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Hemp FACT #51-1 Usage Pt.2
Date: 95-03-06 11:16:33 EDT
This here information ain't about none of that maryjeewanna stuff, but I found it interesting. Maybe you will too. I personally feel it goes to show that people that are addicted to substances are going to do them come hell or high water. The others try it and say adios. I'm sure the "drug warriors" can make something else out of these FACTS. They might as well. They never seem to come up with any on there own.
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
Preliminary Estimates from the 1993 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Office of Applied Studies
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Services
1993 National Household Survey
In 1992, an estimated 1.3 million Americans were current cocaine users. This represents 0.6 percent of the population aged 12 and older.
The number of cocaine users did not change between 1992 and 1993. It had been 5.3 million in 1985 (2.7 percent of the population) and 1.9 million in 1991 (0.9 percent). This represents a significant decrease in use between 1985 and 1993 and between 1991 and 1993.
There were an estimated one-half million (476,000, or 0.2 percent of the population) frequent cocaine users in 1993. Frequent use, defined as use on a weekly basis during the past year, was not significantly different than in 1992, when there were an estimated 642,000. Since this measure of frequent cocaine use was first estimated in 1985, no significant increases or decreases have been detected by the NHSDA. It should be noted that these estimates are subject to large sampling error and potentially large nonsampling error.
However, the estimated number of occasional cocaine users (people who used in the past year but less often than monthly) has sharply declined from 8.1 million in 1985 to 3.0 million in 1993.
The estimated number of current crack users was less than one-half million in 1993 and there has been no indication of any increases or decreases in crack use since 1991.
Approximately 60 percent of current cocaine users were age 18-34 in 1993. As in the past, the rate of current cocaine use in 1993 was highest among 18-25 year olds (1.5 percent) and 26-34 year olds (1.0 percent). Rates were 0.4 percent for 12-17 year olds and 0.4 percent for adults aged 35 and older.
The past month cocaine use prevalence rate for the 12-17 year old age group has decreased from 1.4 percent in 1985 to 0.4 percent in 1993. Similarly, 18-25 year olds have seen dramatic decreases in prevalence from 7.5 percent in 1985 to 1.5 percent in 1993. For the 26-34 year old age group, the rate has declined from 5.9 percent to 1.0 percent. The rate for persons age 35 and older has shown variability but remained virtually unchanged since 1985 (0.4 percent in 1985 and 0.4 percent in 1993).
The 1993 survey continued to show higher rates of cocaine use among blacks (1.3 percent) and Hispanics (1.1 percent), compared with whites (0.5 percent) Fifty-nine percent of current cocaine users were white in 1993. Blacks comprised 23 percent and Hispanics another 16 percent. During the peak year for cocaine use (1985), whites comprised 80 percent, blacks comprised 13 percent, and Hispanics comprised 6 percent.
Significant decreases in use have been seen since 1985 for whites (2.8 percent in 1985 and 0.5 percent in 1993), blacks (3.1 percent in 1985 and 1.3 percent in 1993) and Hispanics (2.3 percent in 1985 and 1.1 percent in 1993).
(See Appendix 2 for discussion of trends among blacks.)
Men continued to have a higher rate of current cocaine use than women (0.9 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively, in 1993).
Significant decreases occurred for both men and women between 1985 and 1993. Rates had been 3.6 percent for men and 1.9 percent for women in 1985.
In 1993 the rate of cocaine use was 0.8 percent in the West region, 0.7 in the Northeast region, 0.6 percent in the South region, and 0.5 percent in the North Central.
Hemp FACT #50-Drug Usage
Date: 95-03-05 11:58:37 EDT
The next series of posts will deal with the actual numbers of people using and abusing (and there IS a difference) of various drugs, both legal and illegal. It was obtained from http://WWW.health.org. Maybe someday AOL will have their Web Browser ready to go :-)
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information Preliminary Estimates from the 1993 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Office of Applied Studies U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health ServiceAdvance
Report Number 7
1993 National Household Survey
Marijuana and Hashish Use
In 1993, an estimated 9 million Americans were current marijuana or hashish users. This represents 4.3 percent of the population aged 12 and older.
Marijuana is by far the most prevalent drug used by illicit drug users, as about three quarters (77 percent) of current (past month) illicit drug users were marijuana or hashish users in 1993. Because of this, trends and demographic differences are generally similar for any illicit use and marijuana/hashish use. The number of marijuana and hashish users did not change between 1992 and 1993 (9.0 million in both years). However, use has declined significantly since 1985, when there were 17.8 million users. The rate of use declined from 9.3 percent in 1985 to 4.3 percent in 1993.
Frequent use of marijuana, defined as use on a weekly basis during the past year, remained unchanged from 1991 through 1993 at about 5.1 million weekly users (2.4 percent of the population in 1993) but was significantly lower than in 1985, when there were an estimated 8.9 million weekly users (4.6 percent of the population).
Trends in marijuana and hashish use by age group are similar to the trends for any illicit drug use. Rates for 12-17 year olds, 18-25 year olds and 26-34 year olds were significantly lower in 1993 than for those age groups in 1985. There was no change in the rate of use for the 35 and older age group.
The rate of marijuana use for 12-17 year olds was 4.0 percent in 1992 and 4.9 percent in 1993. While this is not a statistically significant change, it is still noteworthy given the recently reported increase in marijuana prevalence among high school students surveyed in the Monitoring the Future Study (levels of prevalence are different in the two studies because of different populations covered and different methodologies used). In fact, the NHSDA did find a significant increase in past year marijuana use among youths (8.1 percent in 1992 and 10.1 percent in 1993).
Differences in rates of use between demographic groups were also similar to the differences described above for any illicit drug.
Later on folks and have a great day, even you grammone ;)
Hemp FACT #51-2 Usage Pt.2
Date: 95-03-06 11:18:17 EDT
....continued from previous post.
Since 1985, the difference in cocaine prevalence by population density has narrowed. The rate dropped significantly in large metropolitan areas from 3.6 percent in 1985 to 0.6 percent in 1993, in small metropolitan areas from 2.3 percent to 0.7 percent, and in non metropolitan areas (1.7 percent in 1985 and 0.6 percent in 1993).
Current cocaine use rates remained highly correlated with educational status. Among 18-34 year olds in 1993, those who had not completed high school had a current use rate of 2.4 percent. The rate was 1.3 percent among those with just a high school education, 0.7 percent among those with some college, and 0.8 percent among college graduates.
66 percent of all adult (age 18 and older) current cocaine users in 1993 were employed either full or part time. This reflects an estimated 0.8 million adult employed cocaine users.
The rate of current cocaine use was highest among the unemployed, as 2.3 percent of unemployed adults were current cocaine users in 1993, compared with only 0.7 percent of employed adults.
Hemp FACT #52-1 Usage Pt.3
Date: 95-03-07 12:47:01 EDT
It seems like education has reduced the number of people using Alcohol part-time. The full time drunks remain the same. These statistics somewhat match the stats for the decrease in Cocaine use. I conclude that the laws make no difference; only education and drug abuse awareness work. Remember not all people that use alcohol are alcoholics. Not all people that use drugs are drug addicts. And there are even people that only smoke cigarettes when they are drinking and are not cigarette addicts.
1993 National Household Survey
Estimates of the prevalence of alcohol use are presented in terms of current use (any use in the past month) and heavy use. For this report, heavy alcohol use is defined as drinking five or more drinks per occasion on 5 or more days in the past month.
In 1993, approximately 103 million persons age 12 and over had used alcohol in the past month, which was about 50 percent of the total population age 12 and older. About 11 million Americans (5.3 percent of the population) were heavy drinkers.
Alcohol usage was significantly lower in 1993 than it was in 1985 when 58 percent of the population (112 million) were drinkers. Heavy alcohol use has changed little since 1985 when the rate was 6.3 percent and there were an estimated 12 million heavy drinkers.
Heavy drinkers were more likely to be illicit drug users in 1993. Of the 11 million heavy drinkers, 25.5 percent (3 million people) were current illicit drug users. Among the 92 million current drinkers who were not heavy drinkers, the rate of illicit drug use was 7.6 percent.
For 1993, the rate of drinking remained highest among the 18 to 34 year olds with about 61 percent having used alcohol in the past month. Current usage was 18 percent in the 12-17 age group and 49 percent in the 35 and older age group in 1993. In 1993 there were 3.8 million current drinkers in the 12-17 age group, 16.8 million drinkers in the 18-25 age group, 23.3 million drinkers in the 26-34 age group, and 58.8 million drinkers age 35 and older.
The 18-34 year olds also had the highest rate of heavy drinking at 8.5 percent, with 10.4 percent of 18-25 year olds and 7.3 percent of 26-34 year olds reporting heavy drinking.
Following a decrease from 20.3 percent in 1991 to 15.7 percent in 1992, the rate of current alcohol use among 12-17 year olds increased to 18.0 percent in 1993. The 1993 rate is significantly lower than it had been in 1985, when it was 31.0 percent.
In 1993, whites continued to have the highest rate of alcohol use at 53 percent. Rates for Hispanics and blacks were 46 percent and 38 percent, respectively. Rates of heavy use showed no statistically significant differences by race/ethnicity (5.7 percent for whites, 5.2 percent for Hispanics, and 4.3 percent for blacks).
Fifty-seven percent of men were past month alcohol users, compared with 43 percent of women. Men were much more likely than women to be heavy drinkers (9.5 and 1.5 percent, respectively). A significant decrease in heavy drinking among women was seen in 1993.
The rate of current alcohol use was 54 percent in the Northeast and West regions, 49 percent in the North Central region, and 45 percent in the South in 1993. Heavy alcohol use was 5.9 percent in Northeast and North Central, 5.5 percent in the West and 4.5 percent in the South.
Since 1985, the difference in current alcohol prevalence by population density has narrowed. The rate dropped significantly in large metropolitan areas from 65 percent in 1985 to 52 percent in 1993 and in small metropolitan areas from 56 percent to 48 percent, but has not significantly dropped in non metropolitan areas.
Heavy alcohol use has dropped significantly in large metropolitan areas (6.7 percent in 1985 and 4.1 percent in 1993) but changed little in other areas. The rate of heavy drinking was lower in large metropolitan areas than in small metropolitan areas (6.2 percent) and non metropolitan areas (6.5 percent) in 1993.
Hemp FACT #52-2 Usage Pt.3
Date: 95-03-07 12:48:40 EDT
In contrast to the pattern for illicit drugs, the higher the level of educational attainment, the more likely was the current use of alcohol. In 1993, 64 percent of adults with college degrees were current drinkers, compared with only 36 percent of those having less than a high school education. Among 18-34 year olds, 69.6 percent of those with college degrees were current alcohol users in 1993, compared with only 49.6 percent of those having less than a high school education. However, the rate of heavy alcohol use in this age group was 4.4 percent among those who had completed college and 11.3 percent among those who had not completed high school.
Hemp FACT #53-2 Usage Pt.4
Date: 95-03-08 11:40:17 EDT
What's this? Do I see a trend? It appears that education is working on lowering the rate of tobacco use in this country. The same as it has done with alcohol. And the same as it has done with other drug abuse. If money were spent on education instead of proping-up Columbian drug lords, we may see a greater decrease in drug abuse. For those that say the laws have reduced drug use, I say bollocks. The laws didn't stop anyone from starting their illicit drug use.
1993 National Household Survey
An estimated 50 million Americans were current smokers in 1993. This represents a smoking rate of 24 percent for the population age 12 and older.
Current cigarette smoking declined from 26 percent to 24 percent between 1992 and 1993. In 1985, 31 percent of the population, or 60 million Americans, had been smokers.
Current smokers are more likely to be heavy drinkers and illicit drug users. Among smokers, the rate of heavy alcohol use (five or more drinks on five or more days in the past month) was 11.1 percent and the rate of current illicit drug use was 12.3 percent. Among nonsmokers, only 3.4 percent were heavy drinkers and 3.5 percent were illicit drug users.
An estimated 6.1 million Americans (2.9 percent of the population) were current users of smokeless tobacco in 1993.
The rate of smoking was highest in the 26-34 year old age group (30 percent) and the 18-25 year old age group (29 percent). Rates were 24 percent among adults age 35 and older and 10 percent among 12-17 year olds. More than 2 million 12-17 year olds were smokers in 1993.
Decreases in smoking since 1985 were apparent in every age group. However, rates for 12-17 year olds appear to have stabilized, as the rate was 9.6 percent in both 1992 and 1993.
In 1993, no significant differences in smoking rates by race/ethnicity were found. Smokeless tobacco use was more prevalent among whites (3.5 percent) than among blacks (1.5 percent) or Hispanics (1.1 percent).
Among adults, men had somewhat higher rates of smoking than women, but rates of smoking were similar for males and females aged 12-17.
Since 1985, the rate of smoking decreased among men (35 percent in 1985 and 26 percent in 1993), and among women (28 percent in 1985 and 22 percent in 1993).
The rate of smokeless tobacco use was significantly higher for men than for women in 1993 (5.9 percent vs. 0.2 percent). Over 96 percent of smokeless tobacco users were men.
The rate of current cigarette use was similar across regions, ranging from 23 percent to 25 percent in 1993. The rate of smoking was 22 percent in large metropolitan areas, 25 percent in small metropolitan areas, and 28 percent in non metropolitan areas.
Level of educational attainment was correlated with tobacco usage. Thirty-five percent of adults who had not completed high school smoked cigarettes, while only 15 percent of college graduates smoked.
Hemp FACT #54- FAMM
Date: 95-03-09 11:16:14 EDT
This is an organization I came across. I will try to have the next series of posts dedicated to the atrocities of minimum sentences. Remember, "Send a druggie to jail-- set a rapist free".
FAMM: Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Who's on drugs? You or the Feds?
The feds think you should spend more time in jail for doing drugs than for rape or attempted murder.
In 1986, Congress passed laws that forced judges to give fixed sentences to offenders convicted of drug crimes. In 1988, Congress added certain gun crimes to the list of offenses that required a minimum number of years behind bars, without parole. These mandatory minimum sentences were determined solely by the weight of the drugs, or the presence of a firearm at a drug crime.
The sentences are mandatory in that judges must impose them, regardless of the defendant's role in the offense, his culpability, likelihood of rehabilitation, or any other mitigating factors. Many states have adopted similar mandatory minimum sentences (MMS).
What's wrong with MMS?
Mandatory minimum sentences undermine the basic traditions of justice that Americans have enjoyed for 200 years -- that the punishment fit the crime.
They strip judges of their power to determine the appropriate sentence based on all of the facts of the case. They give low-level offenders longer sentences than most king-pins. The only way to avoid a mandatory minimum is to provide substantial assistance to the prosecutor in exchange for a reduction in sentence. Unlike the organizer, the minor player seldom has valuable information to trade for a lower sentence.
Sending low-level offenders to prison overloads the prison system and costs taxes payers a lot of money. They create sentencing disparities based on race. Studies show that Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to receive mandatory minimum sentences more often than whites charged with the same crime. (U.S. Sentencing Commission Report, 1991).
If anyone is interested in this organization, let me know and I will either post or e-mail address.
Hemp FACT #55- FAMM2
Date: 95-03-10 11:05:59 EDT
I will get to atrocities later. This post may be a day late and a dollar short, but it may not be too late to act on these mandatory minimums. Maybe some "staffers" would be kind enough to pass this own to their bosses. :-)
HELP Families against Mandatory Minimums
REFORM MARIJUANA SENTENCING LAWS NOW!
Congress has established that a marijuana plant be treated as 1000 grams of marijuana for sentencing purposes involving 50 or more plants even though it is stated in the Sentencing Guidelines, that a mature marijuana plant produces on the average only 100 grams. In cases less than 50 plants the guidelines use 100 grams per plant or the actual weight of useable marijuana, whichever is greater. This is a 10 to 1 disparity and it is wrong!
PROPOSED MARIJUANA AMENDMENT
The U.S. Sentencing Commission is considering various proposed amendments to the Federal U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Among these is Amendment #37, which proanging the weight equivalency for marijuana plants from the current 1000 grams per plant to 100 grams per plant. Comment is sought on all proposals, alternatives, and any other aspect of the Sentencing Guidelines, policy statements, and commentary.
If you support a change in the weight equivalency of marijuana plants, please WRITE the Commission voicing your support of Amendment #37.
They are accepting Public Comment until March 7, 1995 (Sorry I'm late with this).
The Commission will make recommendations to Congress before May 1, 1995. Some forms of communication are more powerful than others. Following is a list of the most effective to the least effective means of impressing members of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. IT IS CRITICAL for people on the "outside" to do at least ONE of the Following:
Best - Handwritten letter in your own words.
2nd Best - Handwritten letter copied from a form letter.
3rd Best - A form letter with your signature, address, and the date in your own handwriting.
4th Best - A petition with the signatures and addresses of as many people as possible.
TELL them that the current guidelines are arbitrary and irrational.
REQUEST that they be changed to 100 grams per plant rather than 1000 grams per plant now in effect.
ASK that the mandatory minimums be changed to reflect this.
REQUEST that the changes to the guidelines be made RETROACTIVE.
Also ask your friends to write.
Send your comments to: U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle, NE Suite 2-500
Washington, D.C. 20002-8002
Public Information : Amendment #37
Hemp FACT #56- FAMM3
Date: 95-03-11 10:40:05 EDT
The Cost of Mandatory Minimums
What do mandatory minimums cost taxpayers?
The average cost of incarcerating a federal inmate is $20,804 per year. (Bureau of Prisons, 1994)
Sixty-two percent of federal inmates are drug offenders, and half of them are first offenders. (Bureau of Prisons testimony, May 1993).
To feed, clothe, house, and guard the 54,000 federal drug inmates costs taxpayers over $1.1 billion per year.
The Bureaus of Prisons budget increased by 1,350 percent between 1982 and FY 1993, to a total of $2.3 billion annually. (National Drug Control Strategy Budget Summary, 1992).
States spend more of their budgets on justice programs (6.4%) than on housing and he environment (3.8) and nearly as much as on health care (8.9%) (Bureau of Justice Statistics, September, 1992).
It costs more to send a person to prison for four years than it does to send him to a private university for four years, including tuition, fees, room, board, books and supplies. (Bureau of Prisons).
What is not mentioned here is the fact that most of the people serving mandatory minimums were gainfully employeed before they met their fate. This adds untold millions in lost tax revenue from these "inmates". Personally, I feel these people should be let out and put back to work. I'm tired of my tax dollars going to support them when they are quite capable of supporting themselves. I rather the govt. spend my money feeding kids or helping the sick instead of on able-body ready-to-work people that were the victim of the govt's misguided logic. Remember, "Send a druggie to jail, set a rapist free."
I wish the best to those in California. I hope your computers float and that sunny days return.
Hemp FACT #57- Atl. Mthly-1
Date: 95-03-12 14:56:12 EDT
I am reposting this article from Atlantic Monthly. Just some more enlightenment for those that need some. For those that are, it makes for some interesting reading.
8/94: REEFER MADNESS (part 1)
8/94: REEFER MADNESS
Marijuana has not been de facto legalized, and the war on drugs is not just about cocaine and heroin. In fact, today, when we don't have enough jail cells for murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals, there may be more people in federal and state prisons for marijuana offenses than at any other time in U.S. history.
by Eric Schlosser
Copyright 1994, The Atlantic Monthly.
In the state of Indiana a person convicted of armed robbery will serve about five years in prison; someone convicted of rape will serve about twelve; and a convicted murderer can expect to spend twenty years behind bars. These figures are actually higher than the figures nationwide: eight years and eight months in prison is the average punishment for an American found guilty of murder. The prison terms given by Indiana judges tend to be long, but with good behavior an inmate will serve no more than half the nominal sentence.
Those facts are worth keeping in mind when considering the case of Mark Young. At the age of thirty-eight Young was arrested at his Indianapolis home for brokering the sale of 700 pounds of marijuana grown on a farm in nearby Morgan County. Young was tried and convicted under federal law. He had never before been charged with drug trafficking. He had no history of violent crime. Young's role in the illegal transaction had been that of a middleman--he never distributed the drugs; he simply introduced two people hoping to sell a large amount of marijuana to three people wishing to buy it. The offense occurred a year and a half prior to his arrest. No confiscated marijuana, money, or physical evidence of any kind linked Young to the crime.
He was convicted solely on the testimony of co-conspirators who were now cooperating with the government. On February 8, 1992, Mark Young was sentenced by Judge Sarah Evans Barker to life imprisonment without possibility of parole. (Poster's Note--Remember, "Send a druggie to jail--set
a rapist free")
There was so much talk in the 1970s about the decriminalization of marijuana, and the smoking of marijuana is so casually taken for granted in much of our culture, that many people assume that a marijuana offense these days will rarely lead to a prison term. But in fact there may be more people in prison today for violating marijuana laws than at any other time in the nation's history. Calculations based on data provided by the Bureau of Prisons and the United States Sentencing Commission suggest that one of every six inmates in the federal prison system--roughly 15,000 people--has been incarcerated primarily for a marijuana offense. The number currently being held in state prisons and local jails is more difficult to estimate; a conservative guess would be an additional 20,000 to 30,000. And Mark Young's sentence, though unusual, is by no means unique. A dozen or more marijuana offenders may now be serving life sentences in federal penitentiaries without hope of parole; if one includes middle-aged inmates with sentences of twenty or thirty or forty years, the number condemned to die in prison may reach into the
hundreds. Other inmates--no one knows how many--are serving life sentences in state correctional facilities across the country for growing, selling, or even possessing marijuana.
More of this article to come over the next several days.
Hemp FACT #58- Atl. Mthly-2
Date: 95-03-13 11:09:49 EDT
REEFER MADNESS -- Part 2.
REEFER MADNESS by Eric Schlosser
Originally published in Atlantic Monthly, August 1994 issue.
The phrase "war on drugs" evokes images of Colombian cartels and inner-city crack addicts. In many ways that is a misperception. Marijuana is and has long been the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. It is used here more frequently than all other illegal drugs combined. According to conservative estimates, one third of the American population over the age of eleven has smoked marijuana at least once. More than 17 million Americans smoked it in 1992. At least three million smoke it on a daily basis. Unlike heroin or cocaine, which must be imported, anywhere from a quarter to half of the marijuana used in this country is grown here as well. Although popular stereotypes depict marijuana growers as aging hippies in northern California or Hawaii, the majority of the marijuana now cultivated in the United States is being grown in the nation's midsection--a swath running roughly from the Appalachians west to the Great Plains. Throughout this Marijuana Belt drug fortunes are being made by farmers who often seem to have stepped from a page of the old Saturday Evening Post. The value of America's annual marijuana crop is staggering: plausible estimates start at $4 billion and range up to $24 billion. In 1993 the value of the nation's largest legal cash crop, corn, was roughly $16 billion.
Marijuana has well-organized supporters who campaign for its legalization and promote its use through books, magazines, and popular music. They regard marijuana as not only a benign recreational drug but also a form of herbal medicine and a product with industrial applications. Marijuana's opponents are equally passionate and far better organized. They consider marijuana a dangerous drug--one that harms the user's mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, promotes irresponsible sexual behavior, and encourages disrespect for traditional values. At the heart of the ongoing bitter debate is a hardy weed that can grow wild in all fifty states. The two sides agree that countless lives have been destroyed by marijuana, but disagree about what should be blamed: the plant itself, or the laws forbidding its use.
The war on drugs embraced by President Ronald Reagan began largely as a campaign against marijuana organized by conservative parents' groups in the late 1970s. After more than a decade in which penalties for marijuana offenses had been reduced at both the state and federal levels, the laws regarding marijuana were made much tougher in the 1980s. More resources were devoted to their enforcement, and punishments more severe than those administered during the "reefer madness" of the 1930s became routine. All the legal tools commonly associated with the fight against heroin and cocaine trafficking--civil forfeitures, enhanced police search powers, the broad application of conspiracy laws, a growing reliance on the testimony of informers, and mechanistic sentencing formulas, such as mandatory minimums and "three strikes, you're out"--have been employed against marijuana offenders. The story of how Mark Young got a life sentence reveals a great deal about the emergence of the American heartland as the region where a vast amount of the nation's marijuana is now grown; about the changing composition of the federal prison population; and about the effects of the war on drugs, a dozen years after its declaration, throughout America's criminal-justice system. Underlying Young's tale is a simple question: How does a society come to punish a person more harshly for selling marijuana than for killing someone with a gun? (Poster's Note--Remember: "Send a druggie, set a MURDERER free)
Hemp FACT #59- Atl. Mthly-3
Date: 95-03-14 11:26:26 EDT
REEFER MADNESS -- Part 3
REEFER MADNESS by Eric Schlosser
Originally published in Atlantic Monthly, August 1994 issue.
The Plant in Question
"Marijuana" is the Mexican colloquial name for a plant known to botanists as Cannabis sativa. In various forms it has long been familiar throughout the world: in Africa as "dagga," in China as "ma," in Northern Europe as "hemp." Although cannabis most likely originated in the steppes of central Asia, it now thrives in almost any climate, spreading like milkweed or thistle, crowding out neighboring grasses and reaching heights of three to twenty feet at maturity. Marijuana has been cultivated for at least 5,000 years; it is one of the oldest agricultural commodities not grown for food. The stalks of the plant contain fibers that have been woven for millennia to make rope, canvas, and paper. Cannabis is dioecious, spawning male and female plants in equal proportion. The flowering buds of the female--and to a lesser extent those of the male--secrete a sticky yellow resin rich with cannabinoids, the more than sixty compounds unique to marijuana. Several of them are psychoactive, most prominently delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, believes that marijuana will someday be hailed as a "miracle drug," one that is safe, inexpensive, and versatile. In his book Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine (1993) Grinspoon provides anecdotal evidence that smoking marijuana can relieve the nausea associated with chemotherapy, prevent blindness induced by glaucoma, serve as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients, act as an anti-epileptic, ward off asthma attacks and migraine headaches, alleviate chronic pain, and reduce the muscle spasticity that accompanies multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and paraplegia. Other doctors think that Grinspoon is wildly optimistic, and that no "crude drug" like marijuana--composed of more than 400 chemicals--should be included in the modern pharmacopoeia. They point out that effective synthetic drugs, of precise dosage and purity, have been developed for every one of marijuana's potential uses. Dronabinol, a synthetic form of delta-9-THC, has been available for years, though some clinical oncologists find it inferior to marijuana as an anti-nausea agent. There have been remarkably few large-scale studies that might verify or disprove Grinspoon's claims. Nevertheless, thirty-six states allow the medicinal use of marijuana, and eight patients are currently receiving it from the Public Health Service. According to Grinspoon, the federal government has always been far more interested in establishing marijuana's harmful effects than in discovering any of its benefits, while major drug companies have little incentive to fund expensive research on marijuana. As Grinspoon explains, "You cannot patent this plant."
The long-term health effects of chronic marijuana use, and marijuana's role as a "gateway" to the use of other illegal drugs, are issues surrounded by great controversy. Marijuana does not create a physical dependence in its users, but it does create a psychological dependence in some. People who smoke marijuana are far more likely to experiment later with other psychoactive drugs, but no direct cause-and-effect relationship has ever been established. Delta-9-THC is highly lipid-soluble and has a half-life of five days, which means that it diffuses widely throughout the human body and remains there for quite some time: an occasional user can fail a urine test three days after smoking a single joint, and a heavy user may test positive after abstaining from marijuana for more than a month. Delta-9-THC's persistence within various cells and vital organs (also a characteristic of Valium, Thorazine, and quinine) suggests that it could have the ability to exert subtly harmful effects; few have yet been proved.
Part 4 Tomorrow
Hemp FACT #60- Atl. Mthly-4
Date: 95-03-15 11:14:05 EDT
REEFER MADNESS -- Part 4
REEFER MADNESS by Eric Schlosser
Originally published in Atlantic Monthly, August 1994 issue.
Studies of lifelong heavy marijuana users in Jamaica, Greece, and Costa Rica reveal little psychological or physiological damage. Much more research, however, needs to be done in the areas of cognition, reproduction, and immunology. Adolescent users in particular would be at risk if marijuana were found to have pernicious systemic effects. Some studies have shown that short-term memory deficiencies in heavy smokers, though reversible, may endure long after the cessation of marijuana use. Other studies have demonstrated in vitro and in laboratory animals that marijuana may have a mild immunosuppressive effect, but no study has conclusively linked delta-9-THC to immune-system changes in human beings. Well-publicized horror stories from the 1970s--that marijuana kills brain cells, damages chromosomes, and prompts men to grow breasts--were based on faulty research.
Smoking marijuana does seem to damage the pulmonary system, in some of the ways that inhaling tobacco smoke does. In a study of people who have smoked four or five joints a day for more than ten years, the physician Donald P. Tashkin, of the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, has found substantial evidence that marijuana smoke can cause chronic bronchitis, changes in cells of the central airway which are potentially pre-cancerous, and an impairment in scavenger-cell function which could lead to a risk of respiratory infection. A joint seems to deliver four times as much carcinogenic tar as a tobacco cigarette of the same size. Tashkin expects that some heavy marijuana users will eventually suffer cancers of the mouth, throat, and lungs, although none of his research subjects has yet developed a malignancy. Oddly enough, the more potent strains of marijuana may prove less dangerous, since less of them needs to be smoked.
There is much less disagreement about the short-term health effects of marijuana. According to the physician Leo Hollister, a former president of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, who now teaches at the University of Texas, the occasional use of marijuana by a healthy adult poses no greater risks than the moderate consumption of alcohol. For a variety of reasons, however, marijuana should not be smoked by schizophrenics, pregnant women, and people with heart conditions.
Although the misuse of over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and antihistamines each year kills hundreds of Americans, not a single death has ever been credibly attributed directly to smoking or consuming marijuana in the 5,000 years of the plant's recorded use. Marijuana is one of the few therapeutically active substances known to man for which there is no well-defined fatal dose. It has been estimated that a person would have to smoke a hundred pounds of marijuana a minute for fifteen minutes in order to induce a lethal response.
Part 5. Manana
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