Is Marijuana a Narcotic or a Gateway Drug?

The debate continues: Is Marijuana a Narcotic?

Is Marijuana a Narcotic men smoking a joint

Much of the debate that involves the legalization of marijuana on a federal level is whether marijuana is, in fact, a narcotic. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a narcotic as both a substance that numbs and dulls the senses and a drug which is subject to restriction and is similar to addictive narcotics. Despite this definition, there are some very important differences between drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, codeine and others which are labeled as schedule 2 drugs and that of marijuana.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency website, drugs are put into five categories of controlled substances.This is the drug classification system used all across the United States. Marijuana is placed into the category of a schedule 1 drug according to this list. One important part of the schedule 1 definition has many people wondering why marijuana is on the list at all.

“Schedule 1 drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

The studies conducted on the medical benefits of marijuana and the fact that almost 50% of the states in the US make for medical marijuana allowances has many wondering why marijuana ranks so high on the list. And, beyond this, many are wondering why is weed illegal in the first place.

Marijuana has been used for over 7,000 years. It was not until more recent years that marijuana was made illegal. In 1619, Virginia had a law which required farmers to grow hemp seed as the uses for the plant were numerous. To understand why is marijuana illegal, it is necessary to look at the United States as of 1900. There was an influx of immigration from Mexico into the southern parts of the US, this caused much tension. There was a long standing tradition in the Mexican culture which used Marijuana as a medicinal remedy for a variety of ailments. To discredit the new settlers coming in from Mexico, media and government agencies began to demonize marijuana saying it had a direct link to cartels south of the border.

While this technique worked and swayed the opinions of many American citizens, most Americans did not know that marijuana was one in the same as cannabis. And cannabis was an ingredient found in most of the medicines of the day. Years earlier, opium had been demonized as a way of striking at the Asian population. The technique worked well and was used with marijuana. Classifying marijuana as a narcotic gave the US government a reason to deport illegal immigrants.

The Marijuana Tax Act was instituted in 1937 and while the act was later deemed unconstitutional, it was replaced with the Controlled Substances Act. When the DEA made the scheduled substance list, marijuana was placed as a schedule 1 substance until President Nixon could make the final recommendation for placement. Though the Schafer Commission suggested that marijuana should not be deemed an illicit substance, Nixon ignored this suggestion.

The anti-marijuana movement has maintained that marijuana is dangerous and that it is a “gateway” drug. The truth about marijuana’s past is now coming to the surface. Those who are in favor of marijuana legalization, according to a Gallup Poll comprise roughly 51% of the population in the USA. These figures are among the highest they have ever been.

 

Sources:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/narcotic
http://www.drugs.com/schedule-2-drugs.html?generic=1
http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml
http://www.drugwarrant.com/articles/why-is-marijuana-illegal/
http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/how-did-marijuana-become-illegal-first-place
http://civilliberty.about.com/od/drugpolicy/tp/Why-is-Marijuana-Illegal.htm
http://www.gallup.com/poll/179195/majority-continues-support-pot-legalization.aspx

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