Why is marijuana illegal?
It means that the perception is that people get on marijuana, they become addicted, and it begins to dominate their lives. This unquestionably happens in some cases. But it also happens in the case of alcohol, and alcohol is perfectly legal.
In order to fight this argument for prohibition, legalization advocates need to make the argument that marijuana is not as addictive as government sources claim.
In order to fight the argument that marijuana has no medical use, legalization advocates need to highlight the effects it has had on the lives of people who have used the drug for medical reasons.
But the association stuck, and there is a vast gulf in the American consciousness between "normal" recreational drugs, such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, and "abnormal" recreational drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Marijuana is generally associated with the latter category, which is why it can be convincingly portrayed as a "gateway drug."
Today, thanks in large part to the very public popularity of marijuana among White Americans during the 1960s and 1970s, marijuana is no longer seen as what one might call an ethnic drug, but the groundwork for the anti-marijuana movement was laid down at a time when marijuana was seen as an encroachment on America's White majority culture.
Take the ban on sodomy, for example. It hasn't really been enforced in any serious way since the 18th century, but most states technically banned same-sex sexual intercourse until the Supreme Court ruled such bans unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas (2003).
People tend to be comfortable with the status quo. The status quo, for nearly a century, has been a literal or de facto federal ban on marijuana.
A much better argument for marijuana legalization, from my vantage point, would go more like this: "It makes some people happy, and it doesn't seem to be any more dangerous than alcohol. Do we really want to go around putting people in prison and destroying their lives over this?"
In 1937, DuPont patented the processes to make plastics from oil and coal. DuPont's Annual Report urged stockholders to invest in its new petrochemical division. Synthetics such as plastics, cellophane, celluloid, methanol, nylon, rayon, Dacron, etc., could now be made from oil. Natural hemp industrialization would have ruined over 80% of DuPont's business.
Films like 'Reefer Madness' (1936), 'Marihuana: Assassin of Youth' (1935) and 'Marihua4na: The Devil's Weed' (1936) were propaganda designed by these industrialists to create an enemy. Their purpose was to gain public support so that anti-marijuana laws could be passed.
Examine the following quotes from 'The Burning Question' aka REEFER MADNESS:
- a violent narcotic.
- acts of shocking violence.
- incurable insanity.
- soul-destroying effects.
- under the influence of the drug he killed his entire family with an ax.
- more vicious, more deadly even than these soul-destroying drugs (heroin, cocaine) is the menace of marihuana!
In the 1930s, people were very naive; even to the point of ignorance. The masses were like sheep waiting to be led by the few in power. They did not challenge authority. If the news was in print or on the radio, they believed it had to be true. They told their children and their children grew up to be the parents of the baby-boomers.
On April 14, 1937, the Prohibitive Marihuana Tax Law or the bill that outlawed hemp was directly brought to the House Ways and Means Committee. This committee is the only one that can introduce a bill to the House floor without it being debated by other committees. The Chairman of the Ways and Means, Robert Doughton, was a Dupont supporter. He insured that the bill would pass Congress.
Dr. James Woodward, a physician and attorney, testified too late on behalf of the American Medical Association. He told the committee that the reason the AMA had not denounced the Marijuana Tax Law sooner was that the Association had just discovered that marijuana was hemp.
Few people, at the time, realized that the deadly menace they had been reading about on Hearst's front pages was in fact hemp. The AMA understood cannabis to be a medicine found in numerous healing products sold over the last hundred years.
In September of 1937, hemp became illegal. The most useful crop known became a drug and our planet has been suffering ever since. Congress banned hemp because it was said to be the most violence-causing drug known. Anslinger, head of the Drug Commission for 31 years, promoted the idea that marijuana made users act extremely violent. In the 1950s, under the Communist threat of McCarthyism, Anslinger now said the exact opposite. Marijuana will pacify you so much that soldiers would not want to fight.
Today, our planet is in desperate trouble. Earth is suffocating as large tracts of rain forests disappear. Pollution, poisons and chemicals are killing people. These great problems could be reversed if we industrialized hemp. Natural biomass could provide all of the planet's energy needs that are currently supplied by fossil fuels. We have consumed 80% of our oil and gas reserves. We need a renewable resource. Hemp could be the solution to soaring fuel prices.
There are many sites which explain all the politics of it, but hemp (cannabis) used to be a huge cash crop in the US, and supplied the raw material for fiber, bioplastics, diesel fuel, bird seed, and paper. But it was really difficult to harvest. In 1936 a thresher was patented that made harvesting much easier. But that put hemp in direct competition with the large paper mills (owned by Hearst); and DuPont chemicals, which had developed a process for producing plastics from petroleum.
All this pretty much coincided with the repeal of alcohol prohibition in 1933. Federal agents who had been merrily busting moonshiners and bootleggers who operated illegal stills, now were out of a job. Harry Anslinger, head of those operations wanted to keep his boys employed, so together with Hearst, DuPont, and a cadre of racists, started a campaign to demonize cannabis. They renamed it as marijuana, said that minority members who smoked it were corrupting White youth, and turning everyone who used it into crazed killers.
Congress, clueless as ever, agreed to but a ban on "marijuana". Unfortunately, they didn't realize it was the same thing as hemp. So a lot of farmers were ticked off. Also, a bunch of doctors were upset because cannabis had been used for a century in many medications including children's cough syrup, and sleeping liquid.
But money talks, and it spoke loudly then, as now. Hearst, of the wood pulp and paper interests, used his many newspapers to print propaganda, and push the prohibition through.
Briefly, during World War II, access to imported hemp was cut off, and the the US Govt. realized it had shot itself in the foot, and actually had to make propaganda films encouraging farmers to grow hemp again (used in ropes, sales, parachutes, etc.)
In the 1960's cannabis smoking became popular again, and was a part of the "mind-expansion movement." Then in the early 1970's, President Richard Nixon, of Watergate fame, was upset at all the cannabis smoking hippies who also happened to be demonstrating against the Vietnam war. He wanted to crack down on them, so he commissioned a congressional committee to research cannabis so he could say how "horrible" it was.
Unfortunately for Nixon, the Shafer Commission said they thought cannabis should be legalized. Nixon tore up the study, and launched the "War On Drugs!"
Since then the lies, idiocy, and brainwashing persist. Prisons are making money on the 730,000 folks arrested each year for simple cannabis possession. Minority members, as usual, bear the brunt of these asinine policies, which to a large measure exist to oppress them.
Since mainstream media supports corporate interests which have no stake in making cannabis legal again, it is very hard to find out the truth, or even have a sensible discussion about it.
Actually, everyone should be very angry about these policies. Because of this prohibition, promising medical studies were put on hold. A 1974 study done at the University of Virginia discovered that cannabinoids (in cannabis) cause tumors to shrink and cancer cells to die (while leaving healthy cells alone). The study was not followed up on. In fact, the Ford, Regan and Bush Administrations stopped all research on cannabis, expect for research meant to prove harm.
For those of you who say "legalizing cannabis sends the wrong message to children", it can be argued that it is a cop-out. The truly wrong message is that it is okay for the government to lie! Concerning any damage to the children of cannabis users, there was a study done in Jamaica in the 1980's that determined that babies born to cannabis users tested better on evaluations at 30 days of age than babies born to non-cannabis users. When a five year follow-up showed that these cannabis exposed children were doing just a well as children unexposed to cannabis, NIDA defunded the study.
You should also know, that very ill people who use cannabis as medicine are being arrested each day, or live in fear of being arrested. This is what is truly criminal.
In California, the law was promoted by the pharmaceutical industry that saw marijuana as competition. It received little notice. In Utah, the law was the result of a Mormon religious prohibition. In the other states, there were two major explanations. The first was racial prejudice against the Mexican immigrants who used it. The second was the fear that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana -- exactly the opposite of the modern marijuana gateway myth.
When it was outlawed at the national level in 1937, it was falsely alleged that marijuana caused insanity, criminality, and death -- particularly within minority groups. Only two doctors testified before Congress. One of them was the representative of the American Medical Association. He said there was no evidence that marijuana was a dangerous drug and, therefore, no reason to make it illegal. The committee basically told him that if he wasn't going to cooperate, he should be quiet and leave.
The only other doctor who testified was Dr. James C. Munch of Temple University. Dr. Munch's sole claim to fame was that he had injected some extract of cannabis into the brains of 300 dogs and two of them had died. When they asked him what he concluded from this, he said he didn't know. However, he was the only doctor in the US who thought that cannabis should be illegal, so he became the US Official Expert on Marijuana. He later testified in court, under oath, that marijuana would make your fangs grow six inches long and drip with blood and, when he tried it, it turned him into a bat.
In 1951, the reasons for the laws changed. Harry Anslinger, the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, was up before Congress asking for more money to enforce the marijuana laws. Unfortunately for him, just before he spoke, the head of the Federal addiction research program testified that they knew for certain that all of the reasons given to outlaw marijuana in 1937 were completely wrong. Anslinger, left with no justification for his request, made up the story that marijuana is the certain stepping stone to heroin. It has been the official basis of US marijuana policy ever since.
Another explanation is that prohibition has built its own government bureaucracies and industries that support them. From prisons to sophisticated radar balloons, a huge variety of industries benefit from marijuana prohibition. It has its own micro-economy supporting it.
Another explanation is the one given by President Nixon's US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, in 1973. They said that the real problem is the ignorance of our public officials who have never bothered to read the most basic research.
Another explanation is the holdover effect of Reefer Madness. The US Government has had a dedicated and deliberate campaign of Reefer Madness since 1930. Harry Anslinger once noted that, after the Marihuana Tax Act was passed in 1937, he went out on a bridge on the Potomac and saw before him a field of cannabis that stretched as far as the eye could see. He knew that the law would be completely unenforceable on his meager million-dollar budget. Therefore, he reasoned that the only solution was a campaign of propaganda so horrible that it would scare people away from using it. The truth was completely irrelevant, and he even made extensive efforts to stomp out opposing opinions. Unfortunately, that propaganda campaign worked on a lot of people and there are still many people today who believe the tall tales.
Also, marijuana will likely never be completely legal because it is easily produced and the government can't tax it properly and make money. You'd be surprised what people make money off of, such as sick people. Don't believe what they tell you, the doctors are paid off by these lobbyists to sell you their drugs, some of which people don't need, just to make the dollar.
Because most states can make more money annually fining users rather than selling it to them. Some states, however, like California and Colorado produce it as a cash crop and make more money selling it, which cuts down the "crime" rate. It depends on the state, but it will always be a federal crime. Hemp, however, is legal.
Federal law trumps all state law. The federal govt can enact any
laws if the authority derives from the US Constitution. The US
Constitution gives the federal govt the right to control Interstate
Commerce. Based on this clause in the Constitution, the federal
government has passed laws regulating drugs. Marijuana is
classified as a drug, and falls under the express regulations of
the federal govt. It is unlawful to possess or distribute
marijuana, except in very limited circumstances. State laws that
attempted to 'legalize' marijuana have been held to be
unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, and are not valid.
Marijuana is illegal since it is perceived addictive and is associated with unfashionable lifestyles. It is legal to use it as a medicine in some states.