What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana, a drug obtained from dried and crumpled parts of
the ubiquitous hemp plant Canabis sativa (or Cannabis indica). Smoked
by rolling in tobacco paper or placing in a pipe. It is also otherwise
consumed worldwide by an estimated 200,000,000 persons for pleasure,
an escape from reality, or relaxation. Marijuana is known by a variety
of names such as kif (Morocco), dagga (South Africa), and bhang
(India). Common in the United States, marijuana is called pot, grass,
weed, Mary Jane, bones, etc. The main active principle of cannabis is
tetrahydrocannabinol. The potency of its various forms ranges from a
weak drink consumed in India to the highly potent hashish. The
following consists of pure cannabis resin. Marijuana is not a narcotic
and is not mentally or physically addicting drug. One can use mild
cannabis preparations such as marijuana in small amounts for years
without physical or mental deterioration. Marijuana serves to diminish
inhibitions and acts as an euphoriant. Only once in a while will it
produce actual hallucinations. More potent preparations of cannabis
such as hashish can induce psychedelic experiences identical to those
observed after ingestion of potent hallucinogens such as LSD. Some who
smoke marijuana feel no effects; others feel relaxed and sociable,
tend to laugh a great deal, and have a profound loss of the sense of
time. Characteristically, those under the influence of marijuana show
incoordination and impaired ability to perform skilled acts. Still
others experience a wide range of emotions including feelings of
perception, fear, insanity, happiness, love and anger. Although
marijuana is not addicting, it may be habituating. The individual may
become psychologically rather than physically dependent on the drug.

Legalization Of Marijuana

Those who urge the legalization of marijuana maintain the drug
is entirely safe. The available data suggested, this is not so,

Marijuana occasionally produces acute panic reactions or even
transient psychoses. Furthermore, a person driving under the influence
of marijuana is a danger to themselves and others. If smoked heavily
and a great deal of consistency, its use has been clearly associated
with mental breakdown. In many persons who smoke chronically, the drug
reinforces passivity and reduces goal-directed, constructive activity.

The chronic use of pure resin (hashish) has been associated both with
mental deterioration and criminality. One of the major complications
of marijuana use is the tendency on the part of some users to progress
to more dangerous drugs. Users in economically deprived areas usually
go on to heroin, whereas more affluent individuals tend to move from
marijuana to more potent hallucinogens such as LSD. There is no
established medical use for marijuana or any other cannabis
preparation. In the United States, its use is a crime and the laws
governing marijuana are similar to those regulating heroin. Many
authorities now urge that the laws be modified to mitigate the
penalties relating to conviction on marijuana possession charges.

The Case For Legalizing Marijuana Use

The United States stands apart from many nations in its deep
respect for the individual. The strong belief in personal freedom
appears early in the nation's history. The Declaration of Independence
speaks of every citizen's right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness." The Constitution and Bill of Rights go further, making
specific guarantees. They forbid the government to make unwarranted
entry into dwelling places. They forbid seizure of personal property,
except when very clear reasons are approved by the courts. They allow
every citizen to remain silent in court when accused of a crime. Legal
decisions have extended these rights, so that every citizen may feel
safe, secure, and sheltered from public view in the privacy of his or
her home.

The Right To Privacy

In recent years, Americans have referred to privacy as one of
the basic human rights, something to be claimed by anyone, anywhere.

United States citizens feel strongly about this and often tell other
countries that they must honor their people's claims to privacy and
personal freedom. Foreign leaders often disagree. They resent what
they deem arrogant meddling by the United States. Leaders of the

Soviet Union, for example, regard individual privacy as trivial when
compared to the needs of the state. If the United States is to be
persuasive in promoting freedom in other parts of the world, it must
respect the privacy of its own citizens. Sometimes it is hard to do
this because what goes on in people's private lives may seem
offensive. But, according to U.S. traditions, there is a strong case
to be made against legislating the private behavior of adults, so long
as that behavior does not in turn violate the rights of others. Some
people feel that this reasoning should hold also for marijuana. A
person who smokes at home is not doing injury. The marijuana user is
indulging in a minor pleasure over which that government should have
no jurisdiction. It is