When Was Marijuana Made Illegal in the US?
The federal government’s fight against marijuana began with the 1930s. After the prohibition of alcohol, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was established, and Harry J. Anslinger, who was appointed director, led a campaign to make marijuana illegal. William Randolph Hearst was among the people who funded this effort. At the time, the United States was experiencing a serious economic depression and about to enter World War II, and many Americans lacked patriotic sentiment to accept the government’s position on cannabis. medical marijuana card ny laws
The act regulated the drug by requiring dealers to pay a transfer tax. It was largely ignored by the media, and the House of Representatives did not understand the drug. Speaker Sam Rayburn called it a “narcotic” and Representative John D. Dingle compared it to “locoweed.” The American Medical Association, whose representative testified against the law, accused the congressmen of obstructionism and misrepresenting the organization’s position on marijuana.
As the Mexican population increased, southern states were concerned about the growing number of Mexicans in the region. News articles began to spread stories about a “marijuana menace” and a Mexican epidemic. As a result, newspapers published headlines about Mexican men “going bonkers” from marijuana and killing people. In 1915, El Paso, Texas, became the first U.S. city to ban marijuana, and police began rounding up Mexicans suspected of using the drug.
As the public’s fear of cannabis increased, the federal government began imposing a heavy tax on marijuana. The FBN also encouraged state governments to crack down on marijuana use. The propaganda film “Reefer Madness” portrayed the ravages of the drug on teenagers, and the Motion Pictures Association of America banned the use of narcotics in films. During the 1970s, President Nixon declared war on drugs and criminalized marijuana.
As the drug’s use spread across the country, the anti-drug campaign failed to change attitudes towards the drug. In the years since, marijuana has been redefined as medicine and as a form of entertainment. Proponents of marijuana legalization are focused on the social and economic costs of incarceration. The federal government jails over 800,000 Americans each year for marijuana offenses. Most of these arrests involve simple possession, and only a small percentage end up in prison. But even minor marijuana offenses can have serious consequences, including loss of eligibility for federal student financial aid and subsidized housing.
While the government’s initial stance on marijuana prohibition was unyielding, the stance became more lenient as it spread throughout the white upper middle class. Presidents Johnson and Kennedy commissioned reports that showed marijuana did not lead to violence or the consumption of heavier drugs. As a result, marijuana prohibition laws began to expand and include treatment options in addition to criminal punishments. In 1977, the federal Bureau of Dangerous Drugs merged with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and became the Food and Drug Administration.
Today, twenty states allow the sale of medical marijuana. Earlier this year, the New York governor announced that the drug would be offered for recreational use in Washington State. The District of Columbia has decriminalized possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. As a result, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is now considered a civil offense. It is still illegal to sell marijuana for personal use, though, and only a small amount can be used for medical purposes.