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The Canadian government should seriously consider legalizing marijuana. The cannabis plant has been used as a pharmaceutical for millennia, and doctors still prescribe the plant as a pain killer, anti-nausea medication, and appetite enhancer (particularly for chemotherapy patients) today. There is also preliminary evidence to suggest that cannabis would be useful in the treatment of epilepsy, anxiety, depression, asthma, migraines, muscle spacisity, and glaucoma, which happens to be the leading cause of blindness in the USA (Relman, p. 139). Such a diverse plant should be at the forefront of medical research. It would greatly benefit the government financially to legalize marijuana if they were to control it and tax it. Just like they do with tobacco and alcohol. The state of California is considering legalizing marijuana, they estimate that annual taxation of marijuana would earn $1.4 billion, not including the relief it would provide for the jails and police forces who currently spend money enforcing current marijuana regulations (Associated Press, para 1). Canada's population is very comparable to that of California's and it is reasonable to assume that as a nation we could expect similar financial gains. The cannabis plant itself (stock and leaves, not the drug) is also very diverse. Acre for acre, cannabis plants convert more carbon dioxide to oxygen then the rainforest, and According to Railey, a hemp expert, “anything made from wood can also be made with hemp and with a much higher sustainable yield”. This is important because our forestland is disappearing. Hemp paper is another amazing product, 1 acre of hemp produces 410% of the amount of paper produced by 1 acre of forestland, and hemp paper can be recycled 7 times instead of just 3 times like normal paper. Better still, hemp paper can be bleached in a much more environmentally safe manner, using hydrogen peroxide rather than chlorine bleach. The list of products that can be efficiently manufactured using hemp is almost endless (Railey, para. 15). In such an environmentally conscious era why isn't there a greater focus on using the cannabis plant? There are several arguments against legalizing marijuana. One of the most prominent of these arguments is the idea that marijuana is addictive. Although it is true that all mind altering substances have addictive properties, there are many legal substances, and activities which have addictive properties examples include alcohol, tobacco, tattoos, sex and even video games. Isn't it odd that Canadians are trusted to self moderate all of those addictive things, some of which are possibly more harmful then marijuana, while having the government tell us that Canadian adults aren't mature enough to self moderate their use of marijuana? Don't you find it a bit offensive? The bottom line is that the government needs to listen to science and reason on the topic of legalizing marijuana. The medical, financial, and environmental benefits seem to be overwhelming. Canadians have a right to decide on this matter and the issue needs to be re-examined.
Railey, K. (n.d.). The Amazing Hemp Plant. Retrieved September 28, 2009, from http://chetday.com/hemp.html
Relman, A. (1982). Marijuana and Health Report of a Study by a Committee of the Institute of Medicine Division of Health Sciences Policy. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.
Associated Press. (2009, July 16). California Tax Officials: Legal Pot Would Bring $1.4 Billion | Cannabis Culture Magazine. Retrieved September 28, 2009, from http://www.cannabisculture.com/v2/content/california-tax-officials-legal-pot-would-bring-14b