The Texas Democratic Party has made a bold move this year in updating its political platform: A call to legalize marijuana. As pot becomes more mainstream and accepted by doctors, progressive politicians, and everyday citizens, the political party seeks to get the weed decriminalized completely throughout the nation.
It makes sense, actually, because hemp and marijuana plants are both incredibly useful. In fact, the U.S. Constitution was written on hemp paper. George Washington (our first president for you American History flunkies out there) grew hemp, and at one point, Americans could even pay their taxes with hemp. It was even illegal for Virginians to refuse to grow hemp in the early days of the nation!
Now, although hemp and cannabis are technically different, both are illegal to grow in the United States, although manufactured hemp items are legal. Hemp doesn't get you high, so why is it illegal to begin with? Cannabis, on the other hand, does get you high, but its main side effects are that it essentially gives you a sudden, pressing need for White Castle burgers. And it makes you feel good, too.
Hemp and marijuana weren't criminalized for health reasons. They were criminalized because they're so damned useful and easy to grow (hence the term "weed") that they threatened the wealth of pharmaceutical companies, large petrochemical companies, and paper companies. In the 1920s and 1930s, William Randolph Hearst, of the Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division of Kimberly Clark, owned acres and acres of land upon which grew trees he grew for paper products. But the easily-grown hemp threatened his profits. You see, up until the early 1900s, school books, bibles, and much of the world's clothing and rope were created from hemp. Just one acre of hemp could produce as much as 4.1 acres of trees.
Think about that for a minute. No trees need to be cut down because hemp is fast, efficient and cheap.
Hemp's sister plant, cannabis, was actually a recommended remedy for a wealth of ailments, and the first documented use of cannabis was as a remedy for constipation, gout, malaria, and rheumatism in 2,800 B.C. China. It became the preferred sedative and pain reliever throughout the 1800s until it began to lose favor in the West...largely due to a massive negative ad campaign by wealthy business owners who wanted to eliminate the competition so their products would have to be used.
Now, the trend is swinging back in favor of the weed, and rightly so. Texas Democrats are doing the right thing in making the legalization of marijuana a part of the political platform this year.
Will it succeed? Probably not. This is, after all, Texas, and the state has more prison real estate per capita than any other state in the union. Many of those prisons are for-profit and by no means are willing to give up their gravy train of inmates incarcerated for nothing more than a few ounces of pot possession without a fight.
The highest prison rates in the world are right here in the United States, and it's because of a harmless weed and a few corporate-owned politicians who are too stubborn to see the truth.
Legalize marijuana. It's the right thing to do.