A History Lesson On Why Cannabis Is Illegal
So I’m sure many of us have asked this question more than once, but why is weed illegal? What made it illegal? With the focus turning more and more to legalizing cannabis as many states pass laws to allow either medical or recreational, I couldn’t help but wonder why it was illegal to begin with.
I know it might be hard to believe but Marijuana, Cannabis, Hemp, whatever you want to call it; has only been illegal for 1% of the time it’s been in use. And there are several factors that caused it to be made illegal. Back in the earl 1900s cannabis was in nearly every person’s medicine cabinet taken for any number of ailments. Most pharmacies carried cannabis tinctures which is an extract used with a dropper to use small doses of cannabis. The use of marijuana as medicine dates back to 7000 B.C.
So what changed? What made it evil, since we know it has never been the cause of death by overdose? I couldn’t take not knowing, we sat and talked about all the things that could’ve changed in the late 1920s to make it illegal. We had some pretty crazy ideas and some that made a lot of sense. But we needed to know the real answer. This is where the digging and research started.
After the Mexican revolution, Texas and Louisiana started seeing more and more immigrants from Mexico. They brought with them a medicine they referred to as “marihuana” that they smoked. At this time Americans were very familiar with cannabis since it was used to treat so many things, but had never heard of marihuana. And as it seems to still be true today, the media saw a chance to change the conversation on Mexican immigrants. The media started to play on the fears of the public with this foreign culture coming into the US. Changing the conversation to focus on the “disruptive Mexicans” and their dangerous behavior including the use of marihuana. This is when marihuana became evil in the eyes of the american citizens. All the while most these people were aware that this was the same plant that was in most of their medicine cabinets and used daily.
In an effort to control these new immigrants, El Paso, TX decided to steal a play from San Francisco, CA when they had banned opium a few decades earlier to control Chinese immigrants. This game them the right to search, detain and deport these immigrants for possession of marihuana. This new policy to control new groups entering the US became quite successful.
Prohibition became a great way to control the citizens of this great country. Other states started to ban marihuana as well. Including Wyoming (1915), Texas (1919), Iowa (1923), Nevada (1923), Oregon (1923), Washington (1923), Arkansas (1923), and Nebraska (1927). Then the dialogue started to change again. Saying the minorities were the ones using this drug, they vilified the use as “men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women”. In the 1930s Nixon decided to declare Marijuana a Schedule I drug.
Now we are seeing more and more states legalizing marijuana and as it becomes more and more accepted, I think it’s important to look back and see that we have always been controlled by the media, and it’s easy to fall for their racist tricks. Hopefully we will see one day soon the legalization everywhere and all of this will just be another story of the way things used to be.