Why is Cannabis Still Not Legalized in the US?

In the early 20th century, cannabis was a drug little used among Americans. However, with the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, many Mexicans began to move to the United States, bringing with them the tradition of smoking marijuana. Amid growing fear of Mexican immigrants, hysterical claims about drugs began to circulate, such as accusations that it caused “blood craving.” In addition, the term cannabis was largely replaced by anglicanized marijuana, which some speculated was done to promote drug foraging and, therefore, fuel xenophobia. Around this time, many states began passing laws to ban marijuana.

Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Narcotics Office, turned the battle against marijuana into a war without quarter. Some believe he was less motivated by safety concerns - the vast majority of scientists he surveyed stated that the drug was not dangerous - and more so by a desire to promote his newly created department. Whatever the impetus, Anslinger sought a federal drug ban, and to this end launched a high-profile campaign that relied heavily on racism. Anslinger stated that most marijuana smokers were minorities, including African-Americans, and that marijuana had a negative effect on these “degenerate races”, such as inducing violence or causing insanity.

In addition, he noted that “Reefer makes black people think they are as good as white men”. Perhaps even more worrying for Anslinger was the alleged threat of marijuana to the virtue of white women; he thought smoking marijuana would result in them having sex with black men. With the help of enthusiastic media and propaganda films such as Reefer Madness (193), Anslinger eventually oversaw the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, which made the drug illegal in the United States. Although it was declared unconstitutional in 1969, it was replaced by the Controlled Substances Act the following year.

That legislation classified marijuana, as well as heroin and LSD, among others, as a Schedule I drug. As expected, racism was also evident in law enforcement; according to some studies, African Americans in the early 21st century were nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested on marijuana-related charges, even though both groups had similar consumption rates. In recent years, there have been substantial changes in cultural attitudes towards marijuana for medical and recreational use. Public opinion and even some states and members of the GOP have come to accept legal weed.

But how difficult is it to finally make it happen? Medical marijuana must be subject to the same rigorous approval process as other drugs prescribed by doctors. Legalizing recreational marijuana may have negative effects on public health; potential issues with approval, production, dispensing, route of administration and adverse health effects must be reviewed. Cannabis has a long and complicated history in the United States; its use, sale and possession are currently illegal under federal law. However, individual states have enacted their own laws that often contradict the federal position; marijuana laws are changing at a rapid pace in all 50 states.

Earlier this year, the Florida Senate introduced the Marijuana Availability for Adult Use bill which would have legalized and regulated marijuana within the state. Since 1996 when California passed the country's first medical marijuana law several factors have led states to pass some form of legalization including rising costs associated with arresting and incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders growing scientific evidence of therapeutic benefits of plant change in public attitudes towards cannabis use and of course marijuana as a source of tax revenue. As of this writing medical marijuana is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia; recreational marijuana is now legal in Washington and Colorado. Cannabis lawyer Cristina Buccola who also contributed to Drug Policy Alliance report says federal legislators should consider legalizing marijuana first and foremost as a matter of justice and that New York State Marijuana Tax and Regulation Act could serve as gold standard.

Diana Unverzagt
Diana Unverzagt

Hardcore coffee maven. Friendly social media fanatic. Passionate social media guru. Typical music buff. Hardcore coffee scholar. Devoted pop culture aficionado.

Leave Message

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *