Letters to the Editor

The battle within

To the editor:

With the continuous efforts from individual people and support groups, legalization of marijuana is becoming more and more a reality. From the colonial times to present day, marijuana has been used for producing paper and fabric. Medicinal use of marijuana has been under public scrutiny for many years. The legalization of marijuana would help the United States government by helping eliminate the national debt by taxing it. The actual battle within is among the politicians.

The colonial American economy was based on farming. Marijuana was among the many crops that were harvested by the farmers of that era. Made into paper and fabric, marijuana was bartered, bought and sold as a commodity. Rudolph J. Gerber wrote, "America's first law on marijuana, dating from 1619 in Virginia, required farmers to grow hemp" (2). So according to today's standards, every farmer of that time would be incarcerated for illegally growing what they were told to do by the government. If it wasn't for marijuana, the United States would not have sustained financial life during and after the Revolutionary War. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights all on paper made of hemp. The very first United States flag was woven by Betsy Ross using hemp. Hemp was used as legal tender in a few of the colonies also.

During World War II, the federal government encouraged the public to grow hemp. Hemp was used to make rope and paper just to name a few products for the war effort. If marijuana was used today for the 5,000 known industrial uses, deforestation in South America, oil spills in the oceans, greenhouse effect, and global consumption of fossil fuels would have never happened. Hence, since all the aforementioned happened, the United States being the "leader" of the consumption, should legalize marijuana, to help stop the deforestation, oil spills, help alleviate the greenhouse gases and the consumption of fossil fuels. With enough hemp growing and being cultivated, the greenhouse effect would be able to reverse itself; hemp would replace the use of wood pulp in paper; the stalks of the plant can be made into a variety of products using hydropower inducing a new industrial age eliminating the use of fossil fuels to run factories because hemp is easier to process.

Even more of a controversial issue is the medicinal use of marijuana. It was said that marijuana has no medicinal use, but throughout time, marijuana has been used for various types of illnesses. As stated by Rudolph J. Gerber, "every legitimate study of marijuana's physical and mental effects on humans has shown that it is the drug of choice ... especially the treatment of pain and nausea" (ix). He describes the very first president smoking marijuana to alleviate the pains of arthritis and the queen of England smoking marijuana to subdue the pains of menstrual cramps. Mary Lynn Mathre wrote, "Doctors who do learn of the drug's therapeutic value are often intimidated by its illegal status. Thus millions of patients afflicted with such illnesses ... are denied access to information about the drug's benefits and, in many cases, suffer needlessly." With marijuana being illegal, today's patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, Crohn's disease, glaucoma, just to name a few, all suffer moderate to severe side effects from the "man-made" synthetic treatments of those diseases. The side effects range from nausea to severe pain with every movement and breath. People go to great lengths to alleviate these symptoms, even to the point of relocating where marijuana is available for medicinal use to try and live a "normal" life. Every legal citizen pays taxes, but why make the people who suffer from these devastating illnesses suffer with these side effects? With the legalization of marijuana, the patients won't have to up and move out of their home state or even the country, and then taxes won't have to go up due the lessened population ratio.

People scream, cry and hate paying high taxes. There is a solution to this, if the United States federal government legalized and taxed marijuana. Marijuana can be taxed and regulated like alcohol and tobacco through the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency (ATF). Only when the government does this, the crime rate here in the United States would drop and the national debt will be paid off. There's an average of 700,000 arrests every year related to marijuana; these crimes are victimless unless you're the person being arrested. There are more deaths related to or caused by alcohol and/or tobacco than marijuana. It's a proven fact that more Columbians die from U.S. tobacco products in Columbia, than U.S. citizens die from Columbian cocaine. From 1977 to 2004, the federal budget has risen 976 percent to help battle against marijuana and other drugs. The United States, since the inception of the DEA, had spent more on the war on drugs than on the hunts for Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden combined ("The Union: The Business Behind Getting High," 2007). The market for marijuana is a multi-billion dollar industry. Just imagine if the government put an 8 percent tax on the sales of marijuana. The federal government would be debt free in a matter of a few years. But in order to rescind previous laws passed, lawmakers would have to commit political suicide.

The battle within is whether or not to make marijuana legal and for what purposes. Marijuana should be legalized. Queen Victoria, George Washington used marijuana for medicinal use from menstrual cramping to pain relief. William Jefferson Clinton and Al Gore both publicly admitted to smoking marijuana for casual use. The judicial system would be less burdened with the legalization, saving taxpayers millions of dollars wasted on agencies losing the crusade against marijuana, reducing the number of prisons, reducing the prison population expenses of the food, shelter and laundry. Hence, the saving of the tax dollars could be put back into the federal budget to help; alleviate the national debt, Medicare, national infrastructure, and Social Security just to name a few areas that are in need of financial help. Patients wouldn't look into relocating out of fear of being arrested and again having the extra population means extra tax dollars to put into the financial needy federal programs. With the extra tax money, the federal government could institute new innovative ideas on how to become more of a "green country" with endorsing the growth and cultivation of marijuana to rid the dependency on wood products, fossil fuels and help the planet with the "greenhouse effect," thus creating jobs, dropping the unemployment rate and receiving more money from the people working the new jobs. All that's been mentioned has been on the federal level, nothings been said about the states' financial gains from the legalization of marijuana. The gains by the states would mirror the federal to an extent. Having the people stay within their home state would cause the states' congressional representative seats to remain the same or increase per population quota; state aid to schools could increase thus causing an increase of attendance in junior colleges because of lower tuition rates. Teachers' jobs, children's sports, liberal arts, and museum budgets wouldn't get cut due to state budgets not being sufficient.

Busch Brock,

Amsterdam

A big help at the library

To the editor:

A large group of Amsterdam High School students volunteered to help last weekend at the Amsterdam Free Library work day. These students were well behaved, polite and diligent workers. They cheerfully worked shoveling, raking, planting, painting, wheel barelling and other tasks. The "oldsters," like myself, who worked with them were very impressed by the students. It renews our hope in the future. Their efforts helped make our community library a better place.

Thanks to these students, their teachers and all those who helped with the spring work day at the Amsterdam Free Library last weekend.

John Naple,

Amsterdam