For ease of explanation, we will refer to hemp by "Cannabis sativa". Other marijuana plants can also be called hemp, however, the cannabis variety of hemp is considered to be most useful. The name, "Cannabis sativa" even means "Useful Hemp" when broken down. Hemp actually boils down to any plant with extreme durability that early humanoids used centuries ago throughout history. We often think of fiber as the most common product, but "Hemp" can simply refer to twine or rope that comes from twisting the strands of a hemp plant. It can also refer to the stalk of a hemp plant that the rope or the twine came from.
The cannabis plant is considered to be the most resilient out of all of the hemp plant varieties. It will produce cloth that is even sturdy enough to be used as sails as it was early on in the history of the shipping industry. This type of cloth is called "canvass" and was strong enough to not deteriorate when it was hit with the spray from the ocean. There are also three incredibly important things that a cannabis plant can create: medicine, seeds and pulp. Other varieties of hemp plant do not make these in any useable form, again setting the cannabis plant apart from its counterparts. The medicine can be used for numerous purposes when you mix the sticky resin found within each blossom and on each leaf with other medicines. Pulp from the cannabis plant can be made into paper or used as a form of fuel. The seeds have dual purposes as well. First animals and humans can eat the seeds, and second, paints and varnishes can use the oil extracted from the seeds.
Originally, the term "marijuana" came from Mexican slang. The term increased in popularity during the 1930s due to American government and media programs currently referred to by the term "Reefer Madness Movement". The term refers to the medicinal portion of the cannabis plant that soldiers from Mexico smoked. Currently, hemp in the United States is totally legal to own. You can't be arrested for owning or wearing a shirt made of hemp or paper made of the pulp. However, in most places, if you possess the buds, leaves or flowers of cannabis plants, also known as marijuana, you can face a lot of legal trouble. You could face possible jail time and stiff fines just for having any of these materials on your person.
Now if you plan to eat the seeds, that practice is totally legal so long as the seeds are completely sterilized to where they cannot grow to reach maturity. Considering it is impossible to grow hemp from cannabis without ending up with the marijuana as well, the United States chooses not to produce products from industrial hemp. Instead, the United States substitutes other plants or imports the hemp from other countries. If you want to look into growing hemp plants legally, then you will need to fill out an application with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). While it has happened, it should be considered rare that the DEA will give this type of permission. Even though this practice is illegal, many people still produce and use marijuana. It has even climbed to the top of the list of cash crops due to the incredible prices it can fetch when listed on a black-market.
Nowadays Hemp seeds are "labeled" a Superfood! So if you are in need of fatty oils and large amounts of protein in your diet, then hemp seeds are the way to go. The most common form of food made with hemp seeds around the world is gruel, which looks quite a bit like what we would call oatmeal. You can also enjoy the leaves as roughage. You may experience slight side effects that result in a psycho-active experience, but the seeds will not make you high. If you look at the protein that is found within human blood, you will see a similarity to proteins found in hemp seeds.
The nice thing is hemp seed's digestibility is so incredible that quite a few doctors will even give patients having trouble with standard foods hemp seeds to eat. Scientists used hemp seeds, also known as "edestine" as a model for different vegetable proteins. For those who need to increase their body's fatty acids, the oil from hemp seeds is the perfect solution. Eating hemp seed oil can help reduce your risk for heart disease as well. Adults can get an adequate supply of both proteins and those essential fatty oils by simply eating a single handful of these little hemp seeds daily, and vegans (and vegetarians) will be able to get the proteins they need without adding any saturated fat to their diet.
The benefits when growing hemp are simple: the plant is able to be grown in many different environments and it requires very little fertilizer. The plant itself is pest-resistant and does not often require the use of pesticide. The roots of the hemp plant run deep which helps aerate the soil, and as the hemp plant loses its leaves, nitrogen and minerals are able to be absorbed by the soil. There are cases of hemp growing in the same place for two decades straight without any problems arising in the soil. The ability to use fewer fertilizers and chemicals is much more cost effective and easier for growers, plus it allows the growth to be advantageous to the environment.
When comparing the protein of hemp plants and soy plants, you will get more protein from soy, but the quality of hemp protein is better. Considering how well the plant grows agriculturally, we may see more hemp plants grown in the future. Hemp plants are UV-B light resistant, unlike soy plants, so as the ozone continues to be depleted, hemp plants are going to survive much better than soy plants will. We may wind up in a situation where we need to grow hemp plants for survival, much as different civilizations have done in the past. If there were not so many political factors in place currently, many people in under-developed countries who are currently starving could take advantage of hemp's benefits. Sometimes growth is halted by the use of the term "marijuana" while other times it is stopped because the farmers have to grow plants to produce heroin and cocaine by force of local drug lords. Either way the shortage could be ended if modern techniques were able to be taught by the Peace Corps for farming hemp seeds.
The hurd and the bast are the two parts that make up the hemp stalk. The bast is considered to be the fibrous portion of a hemp plant, and it is able to be woven into cloth of many different varieties. This cloth has such a strong durability that Levi's were originally made from hemp. Out of all of the different natural fibers on the market, the hemp plant's fibers are often more suitable to many different applications. If you are trying to harvest hemp plants for fiber, here is how you do it. First the hemp plants must be grown closely together and matured to the point of losing the leaves. You then cut the hemp plants down, leaving them in the field to get a few good washings from rainfall. After a few bouts with rain, the hemp plants are turned over allowing both sides to get the same treatment. This process also allows the hurd, or cor's pulp, to soften and return a good portion of the minerals to the ground. Growers call this "retting", and this is considered the final step before separating the hurd from the bast. Thankfully this final step no longer needs to be done by hand as machines are able to do this now.
The biggest thing that makes hemp superior to cotton is the durability. Even though most hemp products are not as soft as cotton ones, it can be grown or treated to be equally as soft. Another thing that makes hemp superior to cotton is the fact that hemp requires little or no pesticide use, whereas cotton uses approximately half of all pesticides used in the United States. Cotton also damages the soil and requires a great deal of fertilizer.
Hemp plants are able to be used in their entirety to make paper by using the pulp, also known as the hurd, and the fiber, also known as the bast. Ancient China made the first batch of paper out of hemp fibers, and it has been used ever since. While fiber paper often appears rough, brittle, thin or tough, the pulp-made paper is just not as durable. Pulp-made paper is able to be made thicker, softer and easier than fiber-made paper, and most common paper users prefer the results of pulp-made paper. Most paper made today uses chemicals to break down the pulp from cut down trees, but pulp-made paper from hemp plants is able to be made entirely without chemicals. Many of the papers made from hemp plants combine the bast and the hurd, leaving no waste. Hemp baste is used to create a very strong fiber-made paper, and the entire process requires no chemicals.
Hemp-based papers are also able to be made without the acids that are required when making tree-based papers, keeping the environment cleaner and keeping the paper more affordable. However, the responsibility ultimately falls on consumers to make choices that are going to benefit the environment and remove the hazardous chemicals from the environment. It can be simple choices such as not buying bleached toilet paper or paper towels to make a difference. Just keep in mind that publishers, archives and libraries order paper that is acid-free on a regular basis to keep their documents from falling apart and discoloring from the chemicals, while paper that was originally made from hemp would have lasted these companies' centuries.
There are no positive effects in the future for the planet if we continue to use chemicals such as those needed to make wood-based paper. We have known that dioxin and the rest of the nasty chemicals that are used for this process will harm both people and wildlife, but there are also agricultural concerns that should persuade us to consider using hemp instead. One instance where we can already see damage is the minerals that are taken from the ground when trees are uprooted. When hemp plants are pulled, minerals are left behind for the ground to end up in better shape. Someone once made a comment about a squirrel being able to go from New England all the way to the Mississippi River's banks without ever having to put its foot on the ground during the entire trip, but that is no longer the case. When settlers moved to the United States from Europe, this was no longer an option.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been concerned with the supply of trees since the origination of wood-based paper becoming a high-profile industry. Hemp plants would easily be able to replace the wood required for paper without damaging soil or the current forests we have in the US. Some people say that forests are on the increase, but this is simply inaccurate. If these statistics were able to accurately depict what the real world looked like, we would not need hemp plants for this purpose. It takes decades for all of the natural cycles to return to a forest after it has been chopped down, and let's face it, tree farms are just not a forest no matter how you "cut" it. The USDA has looked into alternatives, like kenaf, but no other plant had the same type of survivability that a hemp plant does. In just three months, hemp plants can grow more plant matter than nearly any other plant on the planet.
In 1916, the USDA calculated that just one acre growing hemp could replace the growth of forest from four acres. Plus this single acre of hemp would be able to produce rope and other textiles while improving soil quality. A mere 4% of the old-growth forests that America used to have are still standing today, and even that is in danger from new roads and the logging industry. We all just have to hope that the people in charge figure out how simple of a fix hemp could be before it's too late.
The hurd, or pulp, of hemp plants can be used in two ways: it can be processed and made into charcoal, gasoline, methane or methanol or it can simply be burned in its natural state. We call the breakdown of hurd "pyrolysis" or "destructive distillation". This is how biomass fuels are created. The charcoal made with this process can be used in electric generators that are coal-powered, while methanol can work as automobile fuel. It is already used by racers in professional races, and has the potential to replace gasoline. Grain alcohol, or ethanol, can also be made from hemp, using the additive created by cellulosic biomass. The nice thing is, cellulosic biomass can also be created using hemp, so it can be self-sustaining. Hemp seed oil is another way hemp can be used as a fuel. Diesel engines are also being designed to run purely on oil from the hemp seed that has been pressed out. While it is possible to power a great number of vehicles this way, the oil from hemp seeds are often more useful in other applications.
Fossil Fuels create huge quantities of air pollution, which is just part of what makes biomass fuels a good choice. Metal and sulfur are not side effects of these fuels, leaving the environment cleaner when these fuels are used. Plus using biomass fuels means that no extra carbon dioxide is poured into the atmosphere. On the other hand, petroleum products create carbon, potentially making global warming worse through what we commonly call a "Greenhouse Effect". A simple visual is of these carbons creating a quilt that holds the heat on to Earth instead of allowing it to escape into space. Taking carbon dioxide out of the air is the first step in the process of making biomass fuels. This naturally occurs by the growing of many different plants across the globe. Biomass fuels also have the distinct advantage of being able to be created within the United States, making us able to be self-sustained instead of requiring more importation of fuels.
We could save a great deal of money paying farmers along with local delivery drivers instead of having to pay tariffs, drillers, ships and soldiers in order to get the fuel we need. While trees could also be used as biomass, this would end up being more damaging than beneficial. This process would end up damaging the forests and the soil, leaving no nutrition in the soil after the trees were pulled up. Some parts of the US are beginning to burn trees simply because the power created by this process is cheaper than when they have to buy coal. Researches from Australia have recently started trying to burn hemp and they are finding that both the quantity and quality of biomass is greater from hemp than from trees.
Cannabis extract used to be available in the United States until 1937, and it still has numerous medicinal qualities. It used to be sold under the guise of "nerve tonic". However, we know that this type of "relaxer" has been used by civilizations for centuries. Wise men and ancient scholars have written about the benefits of marijuana for as long as books have been around, often falling under the category of "panaceas" or cure-all. If you are wondering which diseases cannabis extract can help treat, here is just a short list: cancer treatment, glaucoma, dystonia, pruritis, severe pain, migraines, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and AIDS. Now keep in mind this is just a list of diseases that people will either eat or smoke marijuana for and does not include medicines made from marijuana directly. Over 60 different chemicals found within the marijuana plant have medicinal qualities. It is not a difficult process to extract these chemicals into different foods or beverages, and may even help people with insomnia.
A chemical derived from premature marijuana buds, called "cannabidiolic acid", is also a powerful disinfectant. People suffering from herpes can help control the sores that appear on their skin by dissolving marijuana into rubbing alcohol. A salve similar to this mixture was known to be a very early medicinal use of cannabis. Marijuana leaves used to be placed inside bandages and even a mild herbal tea created from tiny stems of the cannabis plant has been helping people for centuries. Nausea with or without vomiting is also able to be controlled by marijuana use.
Scientists have found a correlation between being able to eat well and responding well to AIDS medications AZT and Foscavir, and the same goes with chemotherapy patients. The ability to sustain the body with food can make a difference between living through the treatments or dying from them. Marijuana use has been found to be incredibly effective when fighting back nausea. The success of this method has prompted some to create a "buyer club" giving patients access to a steady and reliable supply. Some municipalities within California openly look past these clubs as a way to help these patients cope. The same goes with glaucoma patients and multiple sclerosis patients because the marijuana can help control the pressure within the eye, avoiding blindness, and the spasms that multiple sclerosis creates, helping patients not deteriorate further.
Prescriptions that are currently on the market are expensive and difficult to create, plus they are not always effective. If you look at the quantity of drugs that marijuana could potentially replace, you would be taking numerous drugs off of the market that have horribly negative side effects. Medicines made out of cannabis are simple to make, safe to ingest and inexpensive to make. There is a controversy saying that a drug called dronabinol should replace the potential benefit of marijuana use, but there is a problem. While it is nearly an exact replica of one portion of the cannabis extract that makes marijuana so effective, it is difficult to get from both doctors and pharmacies. Most stores refuse to fill out the pages of paperwork that the DEA requires. Another downfall of dronabinol is how ineffective it is when you are nauseous and throwing up. Dosages are hard to determine with this pill and this pill is not effective against all of the same diseases because not all of the same chemicals are shared between this and marijuana. Dronabinol does not contain the same calming effects that marijuana does, which makes it difficult for some patients to take.
Currently, hemp has begun being used to create "press board" and "composite board" for construction. To make these boards, fibers are glued together from the hemp stalks while under pressure, producing a board which is more durable and elastic than its hardwood counterpart. Press-board is a perfect application for hemp due to the long fibers that the plant creates when growing. Plastic is one of the more unknown applications that hemp has due to the high-cellulose levels that come from the hurd of hemp. Varnishes and different kinds of lubricants can be created from the oil of hemp seeds, and this is just a small sampling of the many uses that hemp has. Bridges were built with mineralized hemp stalks that were made into cement according to French Archeologists, showing that hemp has been used for centuries for building materials. The bridges contained no man-made chemicals and yet somehow still produced a material that acted as building filler during the construction process. Isochanvre is what this is called, and the process is becoming more popular in France. This material can be a drywall substitute, insulating walls against excess noise and heat loss, and the material lasts a very long time. Since the introduction of Bio-plastics by Henry Ford in the early 1930s, where a car's body was created with them, bio-plastics have been a part of many different industries. The lack of pollution gives bio-plastics a benefit over standard plastics, but it is difficult for current plastic companies to create these new types of plastics. They either have to compete with established petrochemical companies, import all of the materials that this process would require or do something illegal in order to make them; none of which are good options in the eyes of these companies.
This is a great question. The only way we can explain how this amazingly useful plant became illegal is to also explain the reasoning behind how marijuana became illegal. We really should go back to around the turn of the century and examine a close relative of heroin known as opium and another drug we know as cocaine. Opium was considered a highly addictive drug mainly used by Chinese people, but compared to what drugs can do today, the effects of opium were very small. As the Chinese immigrated to the US, opium was packed along with their most precious belongings. It was regularly used to make mundane daily tasks more interesting, especially for laborers. Opium also has the side effect of making it to where the body does not notice pain or physical exhaustion. During the Industrial Revolution, Chinese immigrants were capable of working those long and exhausting hours because of these effects. This allowed the workers to bring home a better wage than most jobs were offering at the time, and with the diligent focus that Chinese workers seemed to have (from the opium effects), Chinese immigrants secured many of the industrial jobs that were available at the time.
Many American's resented this fact, especially once the Great Depression hit and so many jobs just up and vanished in the blink of an eye. This is part of what led so many working-class white Americans to hate Chinese immigrants, even with the political advantages that white Americans often held. Chinese immigrants rarely spoke more than heavily broken English, and they had no allies within the government, which gave the white Americans the power to put restrictions on immigration. The only way these restrictions would work was if racial boundaries existed between Chinese immigrants and white Americans, so much of the focus went to this opium use that most Americans did not understand. The same pattern emerged with cocaine with the only major difference being that it was not the Chinese-American, but instead, the African American community that got targeted. There is a lot of doubt behind cocaine's benefits within the working environment, however, with the success that white American's found with the original restrictions, they chose to mimic the same behavior in order to keep African Americans from finding success within the workplace.
A lot of the damage was done through the use of newspapers at the time, painting African Americans as some type of savage beast that could not be controlled when they were high on cocaine. Some even compared a single African American man high on cocaine to the same strength as four to five police officers. Remember the ads? Well these campaigns ended up first banning opium, followed shortly thereafter by banning cocaine. Unfortunately, marijuana showed up next on the list. Everyone knew that the soldiers from Mexico who fought against the soldiers from America smoked marijuana. It was even documented from Poncho Villa who had rowdy soldiers who smoked vast amounts of marijuana and from the original lyrics of "la cucaracha". (This song was written from the perspective of a soldier from Mexico who was refusing to march unless his superiors supplied him with marijuana.) Thankfully, once the war was over and people began emigrating from Mexico to the South-eastern portion of the US, almost all of the racial tension calmed. Between the abundant job options in both industrial and agricultural sectors, many new Mexican-Americans found work and began to work toward the American Dream. However, once the Great Depression took away many jobs, all of a sudden the racial tension showed right back up and caused a lot of violence. This violence was eventually at least partly blamed on marijuana use which caused the banning of this substance as well.
Even though statistics showed that Mexican-Americans were less violent than their white American counterparts, marijuana took the brunt of the blame and most states enacted laws prohibiting the use of cannabis. Unfortunately this is only the beginning. Aside from all of the racial tension mentioned previously, other factors played into the banning of marijuana as well. Some contribute a portion of the banning to Prohibition, where the United States banned the making, sale or consumption of alcohol. This can be traced back to Puritan ethics that the original European settlers left behind when they immigrated to the New World, but the ethics did not stop a black-market from forming to sell and trade alcohol at ridiculously high prices. Crime statistics went through the roof over people trying to smuggle alcohol, so the police tried to make their presence known in a big way. The numbers of officers grew exponentially until Prohibition ended with the government giving up the fight and allowing people to consume and buy alcohol legally. Most government officials did not realize just how much power they unwittingly put into local thugs and that effect is still felt today. Once Prohibition ended, the US had little to show for all of the fighting it caused other than many police officers who had to be laid off.
If you were a police officer during the times of Prohibition, you were able to earn a decent wage, the community respected you, some immunity to certain laws and some people chose to accept bribes, but after Prohibition ended, many of these officers had no idea how to leave behind the lifestyle they had become accustomed to. This is about the same time that the "Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs" (FBNDD) showed back up with Harry J. Anslinger appointed the leader thanks to a family member who happened to be Secretary of the US Treasury at the time, named Andrew Mellon.
After many years of campaigning for more narcotics officers, Anslinger ended up retiring. He joked that his former institution, the FBNDD, allowed young men to do little more than legally rape and steal with a badge. We now call this institution the DEA, which is what we can attribute all of the new drug laws back to. Anslinger tried for years to find a way to get uniform laws against drugs within each state and up to the federal level, but he did not end up being able to do this. He became somewhat consumed with his dream to arrest each jazz musician across the country to justify his hatred of the music genre and each musician who made that type of music, so that distracted him from reaching his goal of the uniform laws before he retired. During the period we now call Reefer Madness, Anslinger often attended meetings with parents and teachers to scare them with speeches spelling out what he believed the dangers of cannabis to be.
Well, let's make this part short and sweet: Opium was only illegal so Chinese immigrants would stop taking jobs away, Cocaine was only illegal to keep African Americans repressed, and the same goes with marijuana and the Mexican-American community. Each law was created to fuel emotional racism but had very little substance to back up the claims that the laws were founded upon. Look for yourself... just peek through some of the state legislatures' logs and you will see what we mean. Then you add in all of the police officers who were left without a job other than trying to help enforce drug laws. With these police officers needing Americans to believe that these laws were important, scare tactics were often used about the dangers of drugs. This is what made the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act possible. This Act put a large tax on marijuana and products made from the same plant, creating an impossible situation for business making hemp products. Kentucky used to have a good-sized industry based around hemp, even before the breaking machines came out that separated the core and fiber. When the entire job had to be done by hand, the industry in Kentucky was still successful, but once 1937 came, the entire American industry that worked in hemp was no longer able to function.
Currently, chemical pulping is the way we have to make paper, but in years past, the process was called mechanical pulping. The older version was incredibly expensive but that was not enough to encourage paper makers to switch to using hemp hurds. Normally, these hurds were simply discarded after all of the fiber was stripped, so all of these leftover hurds could have easily been used in the paper-making process, cutting down the final costs of paper making. Ironically, the magazine Popular Mechanics believed hemp would quickly become the top crop within the United States before this Act took place, even having printed up their cover story for early 1938 talking about it. Little did they know that the end of 1937 would see the Marijuana Act that would put a stop to this entire industry.
Is it really possible that the government couldn't come up with a better law that would allow hemp to be grown commercially while still banning marijuana? Well, yes, but here is why. Dupont Chemicals created chemical pulping during this same time period, which became a portion of a deal worth many millions of dollars between the chain of newspapers that William Randolph Hearst owned and a timber holding company, providing Hearst super-cheap paper. This gave him a distinct advantage over anyone else in the newspaper industry. The problem is if paper was able to be made with hemp, he would lose this advantage, so he was bound and determined to stop this from happening. This is where the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act came into play. Drug laws were typically much more powerful than this act, but this bill went through and was approved anyway; much to the dismay of many historians. Hemp then became illegal because of how businesses were able to take advantage of both the racist climate of the time and the anti-drug campaigns. This made the 1930s one big conglomeration of a mess that brought together timber companies along with railroads, with a splash of Dupont on top. What makes the scenario even more messed up is that the Dupont deal was completely financially backed by the same family member of Aslinger who happened to be Secretary of the US Treasury, Andrew Mellon. The connections in place allowed the Marijuana Tax Act to pass, however unorthodox, but it all boils down to lack of information getting out to anyone who could potentially protest the bill.
Unfortunately, it was only two days prior to the hearings when the AMA (American Medical Association) found out what was being proposed. The AMA sent someone to object who showed up alongside a man who sold bird seed made from hemp seeds to object, but that was not enough and the bill passed. Harry J. Anslinger was predominantly responsible because of his testimony. Many Americans would have had little or no opinion on the bill even if they had been informed simply because they did not know that marijuana and hemp made from cannabis is ultimately the same product, but that was the intention of the people proposing the bill. They intentionally used a new word (marijuana) to confuse people and make it seem more dangerous than a word people were familiar with. It was much easier to make the word seem negative just like they had done with earlier tactics instead of trying to push a negative image on everyday products that people were used to, like shoelaces. The influx of synthetic fabrics also played a part in the loss of this natural product. Then you add in the confusion between hemp and other fabrics commonly mistaken as hemp, like jute, and people did not realize at the time what they were really losing. This confusion is still a problem currently. The term "hemp" was even removed from textbooks in the US in the 1970s to try and keep the entire product line away from children, and the Smithsonian has even gone so far as to remove the same term from all exhibits as a way to not confuse children or get them to ask too many questions about hemp. Hemp activist Jack Herer even was able to find a film created by the US government titled "Hemp for Victory\', that the government has denied existed. This particular film showed how the US government grew large quantities of hemp during World War II in both California and Kentucky despite the Tax Act to encourage the war effort. (Nice job, Jack!)
The first lesson you should pull from this is how hate has destroyed many things for all Americans. The "divine justice" of this outcome is showing Americans just how detrimental hatred really has been to the older ways of life. Tolerance would have saved lives, money, time, and preserved a way of life that is no longer available, instead of having the focus of fear and intolerance of people that had different racial backgrounds. The second lesson this should teach you is how to properly use Democracy. Had people chosen to be more informed, which is easily possible with today's technology, some of these effects would not be a problem today. People need to stay informed of what their government is up to and take the time to make their opinions known before it is too late. The final lesson you should learn from this is how little the banning of marijuana had to do with any type of public safety issues and how much it was all politically fueled. Most people believe that cannabis should have stayed legal from the very beginning. Look at it this way. If Prohibition did not need to be in place and it was easier for lawmakers to give in to public demand, couldn't the same reasoning stand for marijuana? Keep in mind that laws on paper are different than laws in practice, and we have experienced the US passing laws that mean more than just what is written down on paper, so always ask yourself what the possible ulterior motives could be behind a law before deciding it is a good thing.
Laws should be specific, not generalized allowing for police to take the law as they see fit, and unfortunately, many different laws concerning drugs are incredibly generalized. Most drug laws were put in place to fight kingpins, not the everyday recreational smoker. The scariest part is most of these laws created for kingpins will never be used against one. That is why the US prison system is overflowing with casual smokers or other drug users that got caught. Now, if this bothers you or you disagree with how these laws are being put into effect, then start to focus closely on what your local legislature is up to and make your opinions known.