Marijuana Prohibition is a Violation of First Amendment Rights
"Let me ask you something? if you had a choice, what would it be: Marijuana or Martinis?" This question appeared in the New York Times on Tuesday, May 12th, 1998. Due to the "Marijuana Tax Act" of 1937 the only legal choice that you and the 18 million other adults who used marijuana last year can make is the martini ("Against Drug Prohibition" ix). The legal acceptance of alcohol, however, does not exclude it from the category of a "drug," even in the eyes of the Food and Drug Administration. The prohibition of marijuana is historically counteractive and a direct defiance of First Amendment rights. This prohibition has denied thousands of critically ill patients a drug that would effectively treat their illness and relieve their pain. The basis upon which marijuana is prohibited has been proven by the very government which has banned the drug to be false.
Since 1914, our nation has outwardly protested against the use of any "drug," contrary to our past acceptance of the market. Before and during the Civil War, morphine (a derivative of opium) was implemented for it's anesthetic qualities and was used as a main ingredient in many medicines. Marijuana was also implemented by the medical community in the treatment of migraine headaches, insomnia and rheumatism and cocaine to treat sinusitis, hay fever, and chronic fatigue. These drugs were not only medicinal, however, and they became popular for recreation, and cocaine, specifically became an ingredient in wines and soft drinks, namely Coca Cola (Encarta, "Cocaine").
Just following the turn of the century, a new climate of temperance swept the nation and in 1914 Congress passed the Harrison Act, banning opiates and cocaine, and the prohibition of alcohol soon followed in 1918, making the U.S. officially a "dry" nation. This prohibition led to a rise in a black market trade of narcotics and alcohol. In 1933, the prohibition on alcohol was lifted due to an overwhelming public concern with widespread organized crime, police corruption and violence (Encarta, "Prohibition").
Much like the money spent on maintaining the prohibition of alcohol, since 1981, $150 million tax dollars have been spent in the attempt to prevent Colombian cocaine, Burmese heroine and Jamaican marijuana from entering U.S. borders. In light of this, evidence shows that for every ton of narcotics seized, hundreds more prevail. Also in relation to alcohol prohibition, those profiting most from America's "War on Drugs" are the organized crime barons, who make an estimated $10 to $50 billion dollars a year from drug trade alone (More Reefer Madness, 15-25).
Again, in concurrence with the prohibition of alcohol, during the 1920s, bootleggers marketed small bottles of 100+ proof liquors due to their ability to more easily conceal them (Encarta, "Prohibition"). Drug smugglers tend to carry and sell hard drugs in extremely potent form (i.e. cocaine) for the same reason. The federal government also controls the amount of nicotine and other additives in cigarette and cigar manufacturing, in an effort to lessen their risk to public health. The same tactic could be used on marijuana.
The "harmful" effects of marijuana usage are the number one reason for it's restriction. These effects, however, are disputable. As early as 1972, President Nixon's "National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse" concluded that, "There is little proven danger of physical or psychological harm from the experimental or intermittent use of natural preparation of cannabis," and recommended then that the personal and medical use of marijuana be decriminalized. Since that time, the NAS (National Academy of Sciences) Institute of Medicine, the Federation of American Sciences, the Australian Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health, the American Public Health Association, the British Medical Association, and the New England Journal of Medicine have produced studies showing that marijuana use is not only harmless, but that it is also therapeutic in the treatment of many serious ailments. Moreover, marijuana has been proven to be less toxic and less expensive than conventional medication and in many cases more effective than commercially available drugs ("Against Drug Prohibition" 13).
It is in this that the prohibition of marijuana is most harmful to the American public. Graham Boyd, an attorney representing a group of plaintiffs including eleven prominent cancer and AIDS physicians in San Francisco presented to a federal judge on Friday, April 11, 1997 the following statement:

"The federal government has issued broad threats against physicians who might recommend