However, someone sitting inside their own home smoking marijuana for pleasure is an important use in itself and one which should not be ignored. "Like sex, alcohol, or cigarettes, marijuana is one of life's little pleasures for some people," and although it can be a vice, the recreational uses are a definite reason for legalization (Messerli 2006). People should not be told what they should and should not enjoy; even if marijuana is a 'guilty pleasure' people should be given the opportunity to enjoy the drug. Furthermore, marijuana has value in enhancing visual and musical experiences, and is tied closely to some musical genres such as reggae music. Marijuana is even of value in certain, albeit rare religions. According to the doctrine of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, a Christian religion, "Herb (marijuana) is a Godly creation from the beginning of the world" (the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church). From the lonely individual, to the musically inspired, to the depressed, to the Christian smoker, marijuana has recreational value that can enhance people's lives if they so choose. It should be legalized as the recreational benefits more than far outweigh the dangers of its use. In arguing for the legalization of marijuana, the recreational uses cannot be ignored.
The aforementioned value of marijuana in all aspects of society is an overwhelming argument in favor of legalization. With such great potential to society, it borders on ridiculous that marijuana is illegal. Used in ancient society, and in American history, marijuana has value to us today. "Specimens of marijuana nearly 4,000 years old have turned up in an Egyptian site and that in ancient Thebes the plant was made into a drink," showing that the value of marijuana is not only extensive, but has been recognized by successful cultures throughout history (the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church). We need to follow in the footsteps of our cultural, political, civilized predecessors and as a society recognize the value of marijuana and legalize it. America in particular is losing a great deal without allowing marijuana to be maximized to its full potential. "The marijuana plant is one of the great unused economic resources in America today," as "prior to the twentieth century, the marijuana plant was the single most important industrial, or non-food producing crop in America" (Gettman 1986). This means that America once recognized the value of marijuana, but the aforementioned and ill-advised moral grip on the issue of marijuana legalization has clouded the potential of marijuana to American society. The economic value alone should be enough reason for legalization, as it was and still can be industrial important to society. And surely many sick people would not argue against further production and availability of marijuana as people throughout the country and the world rely on marijuana for medicinal purposes. The purposes can also be extended to include more applications, and society will only benefit if more research is conducted on the potential uses of this illegal drug. Despite all the aforementioned uses of marijuana, it is included in the war on drugs which includes "drugs deemed socially, religiously, medically or politically unfit for recreational use" (legalizationofmarijuana.com 2007). But the reality is that marijuana is fit for social, religious, medical, and recreational use, and political opposition to the drug is unfounded and misguided. Marijuana must therefore be legalized. The known and potentially unknown uses are incredible and untapped. It is used recreationally despite its illegal status, and medicinally in some cases, and not used at all industrially in the United States. This means there is so much potential for this unique plant to be used to improve nearly every aspect of life in the United States. As a culture and a civilization, the uses of marijuana need to be recognized. Throughout history people have capitalized on the value of the marijuana plant, yet for some reason our society has deemed this valuable plant a taboo. Although the taboo appears to be lessening as the medical use of marijuana is slowly being recognized, thanks to the acceptance by respected neurologists for instance, the moral disdain for marijuana, in particular for the recreational use, should be disregarded. Lawmakers should do what is best for the people of this country- economically, spiritually, emotionally, physically. And what is better is the legalization of the drug. Without even getting into the relatively low level of danger in marijuana and the resources that would be saved and accumulated by marijuana's legalization, the potential value from the uses speak for itself as a clear argument in favor of legalization. One final value speaks volumes on the paradox of the government in criminalizing marijuana. In 1942 the United States Government distributed "400,000 pounds of cannabis seeds to American farmers... To aid the war effort," which not only reflects on the value of marijuana, but to how ridiculous it is that the plant is now illegal (CRRH 2007). Something once used to aid our country in a time of war is now illegal, and this needs to change. Even our own government which has criminalized the plant once used it for benefit. We must again capitalize on the benefits afforded to us by marijuana. Society is missing out on the industrial, medicinal, and recreational value of marijuana. Marijuana should be legalized.
Gettman, John. "Industrial Uses of Marijuana." Lycaeum. Fall 2006. 10 Apr. 2007 http://leda.lycaeum.org/?ID=12426.
Hedman, Leighann. "Legalization of Marijuana." 8 Apr. 2007 http://www.usask.ca/education/ideas/tplan/sslp/values/legmarij.htm.
Helpful or Harmful?" American Academy of Neurology. 7 June 2004. Dalhouse University. 9 Apr. 2007 http://communications.medicine.dal.ca/newsroom/release83.htm.
Industrial Marijuana." The Hemp Historian. 2001. 9 Apr. 2007 http://www.glenwoodsmith.com/hemphistorian/industrial.html.
Industrial Uses." The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH). 2007. 8 Apr. 2007 http://www.crrh.org/cannabis/industrial.html.
Marijuana & the Bible." The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church. 9 Apr. 2007 http://www.equalrights4all.org/religious/coptic.htm.