Sit down, grab your lighters and greenery, and enjoy this really sobering marijuana history lesson.
You guys HAD to have seen this one coming right? Writing a piece on Mary Jane, the lovely lady that so many hold near and dear to their hearts…….or I guess lips in this case. Anyway, I wanted to approach this topic in a way that didn’t necessarily praise the ganja or bash it in anyway either, but to provide some vital information that just didn’t make its way to people’s eyes/ears as much as it should have over these past few years. For over decades Mary Jane has been disproving her undeservedly wrong reputations of “dangerous” and “providing no real medicinal use” and oh let’s not forget the big “gateway drug” label, which has YET to be proven inconclusively. Excuse me, I got a little angry at the end there, but you can see and clearly understand my frustration and the absolute need to inform you of why the world we live in today demonizes marijuana and how it got to this point of a war right before our eyes between an outdated federal law and the numerous progressive state laws that have established medicinal cannabis programs designed to desperately help its citizens.
QUICK HISTORY LESSON! YOU READY? GET EXCITED! BECAUSE ITS IMPORTANT. VERY IMPORTANT
So, what possessed the most powerful sovereign country in the world to baselessly ban a naturally growing plant that’s been used for its incredible medicinal qualities for over thousands of years? Well I’m glad you asked! It’s the same reason this country does a lot of wildly questionable things, through racially and politically corrupted reasons, but that’s another topic for another day.
In the early 1900’s just after the Mexican Revolution there was a massive increase in immigration from Mexico into Texas, Louisiana and other states in that region. As many people know, when there’s a significant influx of immigration into any new place they bring their customs and traditions with them and one of the traditions of the Mexican culture immigrating into the US at the time was the use of cannabis medicinally. Reflexively, when an established norm is challenged, people within that norm begin to worry about this new change, the media played into this fear and uncertainty and soon began to spread false claims not only about the people immigrating into the US, but their traditions and practices as well……..you can begin to see where I’m going with this. In turn what followed were unnecessary searches and seizures of Mexican immigrants on a massive scale and provided the fuel needed for the Marijuana Tax Act of 19371 which effectively banned the use and sale of marijuana in the US.
But it didn’t stop there boys and girls!
The Act was ruled unconstitutional in 1969 by the Supreme Court and was replaced by the Controlled Substances Act of 19702, now this one was a doozy because it established the scheduling of substances we’ve come to know and love that classifies certain substances per their “dangerousness” and “addiction potential”. Can you guess where cannabis was placed? That’s right, in Schedule I, up there with heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and meth! Yes, meth! HOWEVER, this scheduling was only a placeholder, well it was supposed to be, it bought some time for President Nixon to really get to the bottom of the whole “marijuana situation” on whether it was truly harmful or not, he wanted, no apparently NEEDED a substantial report to give a recommendation to drop or keep its assigned schedule. Enter The Schaffer Commission3, a very famous report written to convince the president that marijuana absolutely did not need to be scheduled as such. It not only definitively declared that marijuana shouldn’t be a schedule I drug, it also challenged its general label of being a dangerous drug at all.
And Nixon just discounted the report. The whole thing bro, the whole damn thing.
He just didn’t care, he wasn’t aware of the repercussions this would have in the future and how it would negatively affect millions of non-violent offenders’ lives that got arrested and put in jail for the possession of marijuana. He wouldn’t have been aware that since 1990 over 7.2 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges and nearly 90% of said arrests were for simple possession, not even for cultivation or sale. That understandable lack of seeing into the future however doesn’t give him a pass, not by a long shot. Why? Simply put, politics and racism, I’d like to share and leave off with an excerpt of what former aid to Nixon, John Ehrlichman (Watergate scandal co-conspirator) told a journalist by the name of Dan Baum in 19944:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? 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.”