|Report Reveals Marijuana as Top U.S. Cash Crop|
Posted by CN Staff on January 20, 2007 at 14:16:12 PT|
By Kate Zabriskie, Staff Writer
Source: Flyer News
Dayton, Ohio -- If you were asked to imagine a proponent of legalized marijuana, most likely you would envision a strung-out, tie-dyed T-shirt wearing hippie waxing eloquent about its spiritual benefits.
Or perhaps, you would immediately think of Willie Nelson, the aging country star who is the most vocal and prominent user and defender of this illegal drug.
It would perhaps come as a surprise, then, to most people that a leading advocate for the legalization of marijuana is in fact a well-educated academic. An adjunct professor at Shepherd University in West Virginia, Dr. Jon Gettman not only completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at leading Catholic universities, but also holds a Ph. D. in public policy from George Mason University.
Gettman released “Marijuana Production in the United States” Dec. 18. The findings of the report reveal that this illegal substance is the country’s largest cash crop, possessing a value of more than $35 billion. This is a sobering reality when one considers that, according to the report, this value is greater than the combined worth of corn and wheat crops between 2003 and 2005.
Gettman’s study also found that, despite the efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to curtail the domestic growth of marijuana, its production has increased from 2.2 million pounds in 1981 to 22 million pounds in 2006. As Gettman noted, this is a ten-fold increase in a 25-year period in spite of the DEA’s “aggressive law enforcement” policies which “eradicated over 103 million cultivated marijuana plants, an average of over four million plants per year” between 1982 and 2005.
Gettman uses this information to draw the conclusion that current drug policies are not sufficient. He recommends that the government reconsider its classification of marijuana as an illegal substance when used outside of the scope of medical research. He believes that the government is allowing criminal suppliers of marijuana to benefit financially from what is undoubtedly a valuable economic resource.
Gettman stresses that if it is recognized as a legal crop by the government, marijuana could fund public services like education and homeland security. Additionally, government regulation would ensure purity standards for the drug, protecting its users from unknown, harmful chemicals that are currently combined with the plant by black market sellers.
The legalization arguments proposed by Gettman are very much in line with the beliefs held by UD junior Thomas Robbins, a mechanical engineering major.
“Marijuana will be available as long as people find its use enjoyable,” Robbins said. “By making it illegal, we have ensured that the marijuana being sold is even more unsafe than it would be otherwise. Additionally, its illegal status is only serving to financially assist anti-democratic, often violent regimes in less developed countries. Poor farmers are forced to grow the plant instead of food crops because marijuana is so lucrative.”
Yet for those who oppose the legalization of marijuana, Gettman’s argument is not welcome news. The DEA contends that marijuana usage is a dangerous undertaking, an action which has the potential for serious ramifications such as respiratory problems, decreased mental functioning and stability, and driving-related deaths, according to www.dea.gov.
According to a 2004 report, marijuana has the highest usage rate among illegal drugs in the US and it is most often cited as the reason for seeking drug-addiction treatment.
UD students are not exempt from these statistics. A 2006 survey by the Alcohol Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT) at UD found that 19 percent of students reported using marijuana at least once in the month preceding the survey.
According to the UD drug policy as listed on ADAPT’s Web site - http://campus.udayton.edu/~adapt/ - selling drugs or possessing drug paraphernalia will lead to suspension or permanent dismissal from the university. Illegal use or possession of drugs results in a $250 find plus probation and a Substance Education Program.
UD has reason for such strict policies, according to the DEA Web site. Marijuana causes learning difficulties and memory loss and is linked to continued poor performance in school. Those who suffer from poor grades prior to marijuana use experience a further decline in grades when the practice of smoking marijuana is started.
The DEA holds that, regardless of economic benefits, marijuana has too great of a mental and physical health risk to be legalized, according to the Web site. They argue that if studies indicate the increased prevalence of domestic marijuana, it is a call to strengthen eradication laws, not dismiss them. The health and future of adolescents and adults is too valuable to sacrifice for monetary benefits, no matter how significant.
Note: Proponent of marijuana legalization brings to light supporting evidence with report revealing marijuana as top U.S. cash crop.
Complete Title: Proponent of Marijuana Legalization Brings To Light Supporting Evidence with Report Revealing Marijuana as Top U.S. Cash Crop
Marijuana Production in the United States (2006) -- http://www.drugscience.org/bcr/index.html
Source: Flyer News (OH)
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