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|The Drug Legalization Debate|
Myths and Misconceptions of Drug Legalization: US Dept. of Justice
Chapter Ten: Environmental Issues and the Legalization of Drugs
I. Their Argument
Some extremists in the drug legalization debate suggest that we should legalize hemp - the plant from which we get marijuana - because hemp could be used as fiber to make clothing, alternatives to lumber, paper products, and the like.
II. Our Argument
Some of the arguments of the legalizers are at least plausible (plausible, but wrong). This is not one of them. The argument that we should grow hemp for fiber is completely absurd. First, if hemp is such a good all-purpose fiber, why isn't any country in the world seriously growing it? Second, there was a time in the U.S. when it was legal to grow hemp (before 1937), and no one did. By 1937, so few people chose to grow hemp that it wasn't even mentioned in Department of Agriculture or Department of Commerce reports.154 If it is such a good idea, why didn't anyone do it when they could have?
Finally, assume (although this assumption is contradicted by history) that hemp could provide all of the environmental benefits that the legalizers claim. These benefits would still have to be weighed against the costs of allowing farmers to grow thousands, if not millions, of acres of marijuana. It would be impossible to have a policy that allowed the legal sale of hemp for fiber but not for smoking, for one simply could not enforce it. (By comparison, think of how plausible a policy would be that said farmers could grow wheat to make bread but not to make biscuits). Thus, in order to get the supposed benefits of "hemp as fiber," you would also have to allow people to use it as marijuana. But when we recall all of the harms associated with marijuana use - medical problems, lost productivity, increased accidents, increased crime, etc. - we find that even granting the supposed benefits of "hemp as fiber," these benefits are still outweighed by the negative consequences of such a policy.
Thus, the "hemp as fiber" argument is disproved by both history and the fact that no other countries are seriously considering it as an option. But even granting the legalizers arguments here, the costs of such a policy still would clearly outweigh the benefits.
154 For proof of this fact the reader is invited to scan any Agriculture or Commerce reports from 1916 to 1937.
Chapter Ten Summary Sheet: Environmental Issues and the Legalization of Drugs
It they say...
We should grow hemp and use it as fiber, thus achieving environmental benefits.
Then you say...
When farmers could do this in the early twentieth century in the U.S., no one did. [Reports of the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, 1916-1937.]
If it is such a good idea, why aren't any other countries in the world doing it now?
Even if we granted the supposed benefits of "hemp as
fiber," (which we should not), the costs of such a program
would still clearly outweigh the benefits.
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Schaffer Library of Drug Policy
Major Studies of Drug and Drug Policy
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - The Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
Licit and Illicit Drugs
Short History of the Marijuana Laws
The Drug Hang-Up
Congressional Transcripts of the Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
Frequently Asked Questions About Drugs
Basic Facts About the Drug War
Charts and Graphs about Drugs
Information on Alcohol
Guide to Heroin - Frequently Asked Questions About Heroin
LSD, Mescaline, and Psychedelics
Drugs and Driving
Children and Drugs
Drug Abuse Treatment Resource List
American Society for Action on Pain
Let Us Pay Taxes
Marijuana Business News
Reefer Madness Collection
Medical Marijuana Throughout History
Drug Legalization Debate
Legal History of American Marijuana Prohibition
Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years
DEA Ruling on Medical Marijuana
Legal References on Drugs
GAO Documents on Drugs
Response to the Drug Enforcement Agency
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