Survey of Cannabis Reform and Legalization

Guest Blog Post by Shanta Devourn

One of America’s originating policies is the safeguarding of private rights. A reasonably common fundamental of private rights is the right to enjoy nature.

How did a plant used by millions of people because a significant legal issue? Conspiracy theories overflow concerning several organizations which profited from marijuana seeds and other cannabis products interdiction in 1937, such as companies from the paper industry that did not want competition from hemp. While that is quite possibly a factor, the actual agenda following cannabis interdiction then and now is that anti-marijuana laws present a legislative tool to oppress millions of people because of their race as well as a cultural and political connection.

Marijuana interdiction in the United States started partially as an attachment to legislation that regulates opiates and cocaine to ethical practices, particularly in Southern and Western states where Black Africans and Mexican settlers were using it. The city of El Paso, Texas banned marijuana in 1915, two years following a Mexican gangster purportedly crazed by frequent marijuana use, murdered a policeman. In 1933 alcohol prohibition was repealed and thirty states had some variety of marijuana law and regulation. The operations corresponding to marijuana escalated following the revocation of alcohol prohibition.

The Strategy

Cannabis was raised commercially in the United States of America following the 1700’s. Nevertheless, recreational Nirvana Seeds cannabis practices was not an influential factor until much succeeding with the coming of Africans and Hispanics. Marijuana interdiction presented activists motivated by racism with the ideal chance to intimidate those unwanted oppositions. Moreover, the withdrawal of alcohol interdiction jeopardizes the vocation of thousands of abstinence and law enforcing staff. Cannabis prohibition presented these influential organizations with indefinite job protection and supported resources to further penitentiaries. 

The same strategy previously proved to be efficient in several different countries. Twentieth-century cannabis interdiction was done in South Africa, where the white oppositions governed black majorities and solicited more authority by condemning marijuana in 1911. The British halted cannabis in Jamaica in 1913 to exercise further jurisdiction over that territory. Canada established a law in 1923 from the efforts of a blatantly racist judiciary who addressed anti-marijuana tirades. 

Similar laws followed in Great Britain and New Zealand. In each instance, these laws did not consider the medical facts and the positive effects of marijuana, but prejudices held by lawmakers against the racial groups that marijuana laws helped persecute and control.

The Stigma with Cannabis

As a result of marijuana’s stigmatization, society has heightened the impact on its users. One of the most noticeable stigmas is the 1936 movie entitled “Reefer Madness.” It is now perceived as an accidental comedy by contemporary audiences, and it even premiered as an off-Broadway musical parody in 2001. However, people in the 1930’s were oblivious to the point of innocence and did not often dispute or challenge authority. The people were followers like sheep, waiting to be driven by several who is in power and authority. If the news appeared in print or other means, most people of that era believed it had to be real particularly the strange and frightful topic of marijuana. Regrettably, that still applies to numerous people today.

A ranking official from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics made a statement versus marijuana, and before the Federal Assistant Alcohol Prohibition Commissioner. “If the hideous monster Frankenstein came face to face with the monster marijuana, he would drop dead of fright,” the head Federal Bureau of Narcotics shouted in the late 1930’s. This racial claim was that white teenagers would be despoiled once they’d encountered the intense desires of having a black man’s marijuana blunt in their mouths. “Colored students at the University of Minnesota partying with white female students smoking and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution, result: pregnancy.” 

The Cold War on Cannabis Legalization

In the late 1930’s, The Prohibitive Marijuana Tax Law was conducted before the House Ways and Means Committee before sufficient data was prepared to counter its deceitful rights. An American Medical Association (AMA) representative testified before the committee that the AMA had not criticized the law earlier because they had just found that marijuana was cannabis — the medicine obtained in many medicinal products of that century. Very few people understood that the “deadly menace” they had seen on the front pages was truly cannabis. So when the Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, this enormous natural resource was abruptly prohibited. 

Congress prohibited cannabis because of a partial lie. The representative persuaded them that fifty percent of all violent offenses in the United States were perpetrated by African Americans, Spaniards, Mexican and Latin-Americans, Filipinos, and Greeks and these crimes could be investigated due to marijuana. 

The representative testified in a discussion on the Bill, also asserting that “marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.” Later in the 1950’s, under the “McCarthyism” threat of Communism, the representative claimed the definite contrast to incite panic — stating that marijuana will appease soldiers so much they will not aspire to fight in war. Neither position signifies the truth. An Associated Press report on June 22, 1971, demonstrated how cannabis restrains neither courage nor compassion.

The Stoned Hero 

Peter Charles Lemon— A Congressional Medal of Honor hero states he was “stoned” on cannabis the evening he fought off two waves of Vietcong soldiers and obtained America’s highest military honor. It was April 1, 1970, when this Army Specialist 4, used his rifle, machine gun, and hand grenades to break a massive attack on his post. He fought the enemy single-handed and pulled out a wounded comrade to the back for safety before dropping from fatigue and three wounds. At the medical center, he denied treatment until more severely injured men had been attended for treatment. The dispatch cited the injured hero as describing: “It was the only time I ever went into combat stoned. You get an alert when you’re stoned…”

The Hippies

Young people in the 1960s began to embrace using marijuana and this in turn forced legislators to deal with an unexpected demographic change: marijuana was no longer restricted to Hispanics and blacks. The children of the white middle class were also “toking-up” in important and rising numbers. Many of the young “hippies” also adopted the Hindu religion and practices. Cannabis has been practiced as part of religious festivals in India for several millennials and still practicing now a days. However, the government’s escalation of the war on drugs used marijuana as a pretext to criticize the ’60s counterculture and ethnic groups. 

The most promising promotion of the Nixon administration (which founded the DEA) and other politicians, was lumping an active cultural-political resistance with black militancy and ghetto heroin obsession. Cannabis prohibition is a part of that political era of the nation’s history and even today remains to be used to oppress different groups of all races to promote cultural and political agendas. 

The Reform and Waves Of Legalization 

In 2001, Nevada became the first state to decriminalize and legalize cannabis through state legislature and the 9th state since 1996 to legalize the use of medical marijuana. In the following years, major cities across the United States began to either decriminalize marijuana or perform the implementation of the cannabis laws to a moderate preference in accordance to the existing State Laws. Among those cities were Seattle, Oakland, Denver, and San Francisco. 

In 2008, Massachusetts voters supported a poll initiative to decriminalize cannabis. States that decriminalized in succeeding years were Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maryland, Missouri, Delaware, Illinois, New Hampshire, and the Virgin Islands.

On November 6, 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Regulated marijuana can be purchased in authorized dispensaries allowing the possession of up to an ounce for people of legal age.


Shanta Devourn

Shanta Devourn — A multipotentialite who loves to create possibilities in terms of his writings. Shanta support educational awareness in online platforms.  He believes in the saying “Understanding other viewpoints are enhanced when done so through outspoken synergy with those who have a different perspective as long as the situation is secure and the idea is well-crafted.” Read more from this guest blogger.

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