The United Nation calls it the most widely used illicit substance in the world. It is marijuana, marihuana or Cannabis. Yet "Which countries allow marijuana?" is at the top of queries on Google.
Marijuana is a product of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana, also present in other forms of cannabis, is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
Of the roughly 400 chemicals found in the cannabis plant, THC affects the brain the most.
- As a fibre, Cannabis has been discovered in archaeological ruins dating back to 10 000 B.C in Taiwan.
- As a ritual and psychotropic agent, Marijuana has been known for millennia. Richard Rudgley, in his book The Alchemy of Culture: Intoxicants in Society argues that Marijuana was not that rare in the third millennium B.C. and there is archaeological evidence found at ancient burial sites from Romania to China.
- The ancient Hindus used it, calling it ganjika in Sanskrit (ganja in Hindi nowadays).
- The Assyrians in the second millennium B.C. called it qunubu (“way to make smoke”). Did the word cannabis originate from this?
- Practitioners of the Dionysus cult as well as shamans used it to produce altered states of consciousness.
- The Greek historian, Herodotus in 5th century B.C Greece mentions Cannabis.
- Some writers even claim that Jesus Christ himself used cannabis-based oil to help cure people with crippling diseases as was common among the Jews in those times.
The Muslims, especially the Sufis puffed away to ecstasy already in the Mameluk times, not to mention the delightful customs of the highly spiritual Sufi saints.
“But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body's work's expired”
- South Africa in 1911
- Jamaica (British Colony then) in 1913
- UK and New Zealand in 1920
- Canada in 1923 and in 1937 in the United States. California and Utah were the first US states to outlaw “preparation of hemp seed or loco weed” in 1913 and 1915.
- Blame it on the Mexicans - The reasons for outlawing marijuana in USA vary, according to the writer. Some claim that cheap Mexican labourers, after the Mexican revolution in 1910 brought the habit to USA. Some writers claim that Mormons travelling to Mexico brought the bad habit back.
- Racism – A newspaper editorial in 1934 declared “Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”
Money, of course, is a big player.
- “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
- “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”
- “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”
- Corporate profits – William Randolph Hearst, the owner of a chain of newspapers, which paired cannabis and Mexicans together and lurid stories, sold more newspapers. It has also been suggested that DuPont chemicals, who patented Nylon wanted hemp removed as a competition. Pharmaceutical companies hated cannabis as people grew it themselves and no money came to the large companies.
- Philippines (not after 2006)
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
The amounts of marijuana in question vary from 149 grams in Lisa Tray case in UAE, 922 grams in Lam Ming Hwa case Brunei.
- Pakistani law prescribes the death penalty for possession of over 200g
- Sri Lanka 500 g
- Bangladesh 2 kg
- India is the most liberal in the region with 10 kg in the case of opium.
- Sri Lanka prescribes the death penalty for possession of 2 g of heroin in contrast to 50 g in China and 500 g in Laos.
- In 1985, only 22 countries had legal death penalty for drug offences. In 1995, this number grew to 26 countries.
- By the end of the 2000, it stood around 34.
This is about half of the 64 countries in the world, which retain the death penalty.
Arguments For Decriminalizing and Legalizing Marijuana in USA
The main arguments for decriminalizing marijuana are:
- Lower costs of law enforcement and criminal justice system
- Reduction of income earned by organized crime
- Reduction in prison overcrowding
- Reduction of subsequent use of hard illicit drugs e.g., heroin and cocaine
- Moderate lifetime use may decrease certain types of cancer
Arguments Opposing Decriminalizing Marijuana in USA
- Marijuana use produces biochemical changes in the brain, which leads to heavier illicit drugs and addiction
- Increased crime
- Australia (Decriminalized in Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory)
- Brazil (one gets only warning for smoking)
- Canada (legal for medical and industrial use)
- Chile, Colombia
- Czech Republic
- India (government shops sell cannabis as bhang)
- Pakistan (laws are never enforced)
- Friedrich Nietzsche -
Use and abuse are entirely different things. Before you get too excited about marijuana, Read here real life information about marijuana abuse and addiction from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.