Marijuana and the law
The word `marijuana' is a Mexican slang term which became popular in the late 1930's in America, during a series of media and government programs which we now refer to as the `Reefer Madness Movement.' It refers specifically to the medicine part of cannabis, which Mexican soldiers used to smoke.Today in the U.S., hemp (meaning the roots, stalk, and stems of the cannabis plant) is legal to possess. No one can arrest you for wearing a hemp shirt, or using hemp paper. Marijuana (The flowers, buds, or leaves of the cannabis plant) is not legal to possess, and there are stiff fines and possible jail terms for having any marijuana in your possession. The seeds are legal to possess and eat, but only if they are sterilized (will not grow to maturity.) Since it is not possible to grow the hemp plant without being in possession of marijuana, the United States does not produce any industrial hemp products, and must import them or, more often, substitute others. (There is a way to grow hemp legally, but it involves filing an application with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the DEA very rarely ever gives its permission.)This does not seem to have stopped people from producing and using marijuana, though. In many of the United States, marijuana is the number one cash crop, mostly because it fetches a very high price on the black market.
Marijuana and your body
Marijuana kills brain cells -- is based on research done during the second Reefer Madness Movement. A study attempted to show that marijuana smoking damaged brain structures in monkeys. However, the study was poorly performed and it was severely criticized by a medical review board. Studies done afterwards failed to show any brain damage, in fact a very recent study on Rhesus monkeys used technology so sensitive that scientists could actually see the effect of learning on brain cells, and it found no damage.But this was Reefer Madness II, and the prohibitionists were looking around for anything they could find to keep the marijuana legalization movement in check, so this study was widely used in anti-marijuana propaganda. It was recanted later.(To this day, the radical anti-drug groups, like P.R.I.D.E. and Dr. Gabriel Nahas, still use it -- In fact, America's most popular drug education program, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, claims that marijuana ``can impair memory perception & judgement by destroying brain cells.'' When police and teachers read this and believe it, our job gets really tough, since it takes a long time to explain to children how Ms. Jones and Officer Bob were wrong.)The truth is, no study has ever demonstrated cellular damage, stupidity, mental impairment, or insanity brought on specifically by marijuana use -- even heavy marijuana use. This is not to say that it cannot be abused, however.The effect of marijuana on memory is its most dramatic and the easiest to notice. Many inexperienced marijuana users find that they have very strange, sudden and unexpected memory lapses. These usually take the form of completely forgetting what you were talking about when you were right in the middle of saying something important. However, these symptoms only occur while a person is `high'. They do not carry over or become permanent, and examinations of extremely heavy users has not shown any memory or thinking problems. More experienced marijuana users seem to be able to remember about as well as they do when they are not `high.'Studies which have claimed to show short-term memory impairment have not stood up to scrutiny and have not been duplicated. Newer studies show that marijuana does not impair simple, real-world memory processes. Marijuana does slow reaction time slightly, and this effect has sometimes been misconstrued as a memory problem. To put things in perspective, one group of researchers made a control group hold their breath, like marijuana smokers do. Marijuana itself only produced about twice as many effects on test scores as breath holding. Many people use marijuana to study. Other people cannot, for some reason, use marijuana and do anything that involves deep thought. Nobody knows what makes the difference.
Effects of Marijuana