Why Is Cannabis Illegal in the United States ?
Long before cannabis was banned in 1937, It had been used by cultures and civilizations for over 6,000 years.
The question is, why outlaw a natural plant that has been used for both medical and agricultural purposes for thousands of years?
There must be a reason based on hard scientific evidence right?
The cannabis plant was demonized, banned, made illegal, and criminalized for decades, solely for political purposes.
This is not a short sighted opinion, but a well documented fact.
It’s an unfortunate answer, but the history behind the cannabis plant in America has been well documented.
Why is Cannabis Illegal Today: Initial Ban In 1937
Harry J Anslinger was the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) and introduced the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 which effectively made cannabis (both marijuana & hemp) illegal.
Anslinger was notoriously racist, and if you need proof, here’s some of his infamously racist quotes from the 30’s.
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers.
Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”
Yeah, Harry Anslinger was a real ‘peach’.
And with the help of media mogul and ‘yellow journalist’ William Randolph Hearst, Harry Anslinger published an onslaught of false marijuana articles.
These articles ranged from stories about how marijuana caused ‘white women to have sex with black men’ to graphic and downright ‘gory’ stories about how marijuana caused a completely normal kid to murder his whole family with an axe.
If you’re not familiar, ‘yellow journalism’ is when journalists come to a conclusion with little to no supporting facts.
And Hearst was famous for it.
Backed by dozens of flat out lies and false publications, the ban on Marijuana easily passed congress and became federally illegal in 1937. Cannabis still remains illegal today.
For the record…
Statistics show that white and black people use marijuana at exactly the same rate.
But research shows for every 1 white person arrested for marijuana, 4 black arrests are made for the exact same ”crime”.
President Nixon’s Controlled Substance Act in 1970
Fun Fact: Nixon is the only president in history to resign for corruption.
When Richard Nixon was president he had two major political groups that opposed his efforts.
The hippies who were anti-war and the Black panthers who wanted a share of political representation.
Here’s a quote from one of Nixon’s top advisers & Domestic Policy Chief John Ehrlichman
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,”
“We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.”
“Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” – John Ehrlichman
So with-out any evidence, the Controlled Substance Act which was passed in 1970 which assigned cannabis Schedule I classification.
With marijuana re-classified as a schedule 1 drug it meant marijuana was deemed to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use as well as higher penalties.
Cannabis’s new found schedule 1 classification prohibited even medical use of cannabis and made research and advancing our understanding extremely difficult.
Why Is Cannabis Illegal: Mandatory Minimum Sentences in the 80’s
By the 1980’s marijuana had been demonized, villainized, and used as a prop by greedy politicians for over 50 years.
All with absolutely NO EVIDENCE or scientific research to support any claims.
In the 30’s cannabis was made illegal based on Harry Anslinger’s distaste and hatred for Black people and jazz music.
In the 70’s cannabis was re-classified as a schedule 1 drug based on President Nixon’s distaste and hatred of Hippies and Black people. Both well documented facts.
So what was next for cannabis in the 80’s ?
How about mandatory jail time for nonviolent marijuana use ?
Well, that’s exactly what Ronald Raegan did.
The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 And Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986
The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 And Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 both worked to establish criminal penalties for simple possession of a controlled substance.
Since marijuana was classified as a schedule 1 drug by Nixon, it carried higher penalties than both Cocaine and Meth.
Over the next couple decades, these pieces of legislation would devastate African American communities and cause over-flooded prisons with non-violent offenders serving long term sentences for simply ‘possessing’ not dealing marijuana.
Today Nearly 80% of people in federal prison and almost 60% of people in state prison for drug offenses are black or Latino.
In some states, the penalty for selling 16 ounces of marijuana is equivalent to that for illegally selling 10 firearms: 3 – 15 years in jail.
The absurd message here is that pot is as or more harmful than guns.
Why Is Cannabis Illegal: Medical Marijuana Resurgence in the 90’s
By the 1990’s the American people started to slowly wake up to the lies they’ve been told about cannabis for nearly 70 years.
Starting with legalization in San-francisco, the entire state of California passed the Compassionate Use Act in 1996.
This made California the first state in the nation to legalize the medical use of cannabis.
1st State To Legalize Cannabis: Historic 2012 Election
Through-out the 90’s and 2000’s the strong emergence of pop culture icons , the internet, and social media fueled a new wave of available information that was previously only available by large media controlled outlets.
This new wave of available information gave the American people a resurgence of passion to fight against the deep rooted racism that goes hand in hand with marijuana prohibition.
Under President Obama’s second term in 2012, Washington State and Colorado became the 1st states to not only decriminalize, but fully legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Federally Legal Hemp vs. Marijuana in 2018
The 2012 legalization of Marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington were just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
In 2014 President Obama signed the ‘farm bill’ into law which defined industrial hemp as different from marijuana.
The farm bill also gave authorization to institutions in states that legalized hemp cultivation to regulate and conduct research and pilot programs.
Finally in 2018, a new version of the 2014 farm bill was passed which ‘cleaned up the language’ and made hemp (with less than 0.3% THC) federally legal in all 50 states at the national level.
This was a key change that sparked the CBD boom.
Why is Marijuana Still Federally Illegal in 2021 And Beyond ?
So with all this publicly available information, why is cannabis still illegal?
Currently 70% of the states have marijuana programs.
With such large support and well known, documented racial motivation behind marijuana prohibition, why is possession of marijuana still an illegal federal offense ?
And why is marijuana still classified as a schedule 1 drug?
In order to find that answer we have to look at who has the political power to make such a change.
Who would benefit from marijuana legalization and who would NOT benefit from legalizing marijuana.
Who Would Benefit From legalizing Cannabis Federally
1. Anyone Suffering From Health Issues (Mental & Physical) :
America has a prescription drug problem.
Not from illegal drugs, but from legally prescribed drugs for pain like opiates or Xanax for “anxiety” or Prozac and Zoloft for depression or Ambien for sleep.
If you have a health issue in America, pharmaceutical companies have a pill to sell you.
Now lets be real, these drugs do work in the short term, but are they worth the long term side effects?
What are the consequences from so many Americans taking so many pills?
Last year 15,000 people died from opiate overdoses. Every year, over 25 million people are prescribed addiction forming Xanax for “anxiety”
Medical Marijuana provides an all natural alternative to thousands of prescriptions with minimal to no risk of addiction or dependence.
2. All Local State Economies:
The state of Colorado has made over $250 million dollars in legal marijuana tax revenue.
Washington state has made over $350 million and California right behind w. $345 million in tax revenue.
That means more jobs available, more local investment opportunities and more money circulating in local economies instead of that same money going into large corporations.
Both marijuana and industrial hemp provide farmers across America with new opportunities to grow a very new ‘cash crop’. The opportunities are endless.
Who Would NOT Benefit From legalizing Marijuana Federally
Legalizing marijuana would mean less arrests and less inmates.
Seems like a good thing right?
Not if you run a prison or belong to a prison guard union.
If you think profiting from putting your fellow Americans in jail for minor marijuana possession is immoral & unethical.
Your right it is
But this is AMERICA Today.
2. Big Pharma Drug Companies:
While the DEA has been busy locking people up on the streets for possession of non-addictive illegal drugs like marijuana, Big Pharma has been quietly selling highly addictive legal drugs like opiates to millions of Americans every year.
Legalizing marijuana would be direct competition and cut into their billion dollar profits.
3. Tobacco & Alcohol:
Tobacco & alcohol companies are notorious for funding Anti-marijuana campaigns.
Legalizing marijuana would mean direct competition for the ‘relax after work’ target market.
When you look at the ‘big picture’ those who stand to gain from legalizing marijuana are millions of Americans.
Those who stand top loose the most are a handful for already rich corporate executives.
Why is marijuana still illegal in the United States ?
As outlined above, the answer is not simple, but it can be simplified.
What started out as a prohibition based on well documented racist roots in the 30’s was leveraged by president Nixon in the 70’s with similar politicized racist and sinister intent.
The problem was made worse in the 80’s with mandatory sentencing with heavily targeted African American communities and continues to do so to this very day.
Incarceration rates for marijuana related charges heavily favor black inmates when compared to white inmates for the same crime.
However, what may have started out as a means of racist incarceration, seems to have morphed into a power grab for billion dollar profits.
Although marijuana prohibition looks like it may be in its final stages, no doubt billion dollar corporations will continue to put up a fight.
One thing that’s clear, is that the debate over legalizing marijuana is not based on science or what’s best for the American people.
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