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A personal take on Cannabis Prohibition

By David Dickerman  Photo/istock/eyegelb

With legal use of marijuana on the rise, it has led many to question how and why it was made illegal in the first place. While studies are limited due to legal complexities, the available results have shown that the effects of alcohol are debatably worse than those of marijuana, which adds fuel to this fires of support. In fact, the benefits of marijuana alone far exceed those of alcohol, which is probably why one is considered by many to be a form of medicine. Thus this leads us to the question, with all the information to the contrary, how did we get to a place where marijuana was the villain of the story?

Use was popular in the 1800s, both in the form of recreational smoking and for the plant fibers used to make rope. After the Mexican Revolution in the 1900s, many Mexican citizens immigrated to the United States. Along with them came elements of their culture, and this included marijuana at the time. Many people were unhappy with the large influx of foreigners, and they attributed their negative behaviors to their use of the herb. Keeping tabs on this element of their culture became a way of tracking and controlling the “unwanted” citizens. It was then attributed to violent behaviors of minorities, and outlawed in the form of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This was replaced by the Controlled Substance Act in the 1970s as people incorrectly assumed the substance was addictive. 

Due to the changing opinions and increased funding for studies, science can hopefully soon classify this versatile substance where it belongs without prejudice.