Marijuana has been used for centuries in many cultures across the world. Only in the past century has marijuana become illegal.
Did you know George Washington grew hemp? Really. And in the Jamestown colony, it was actually illegal NOT to grow it. The stuff called hemp, which is made from marijuana, was grown for cordage and canvas. But you can't smoke hemp. Hemp is made from the stems of the plant. You smoke the flowers (or buds) and leaves. The US is the largest importer of hemp in the world but it's still illegal to grow it domestically.
It was legal and actually unknown for a long time. It's status remained relatively unaltered until around the early 20th century. So to talk about that, whadda ya say we go back in time to that time known as the Ol' West?
Yeah, there we go. YeeHaw!
The early 1910s in Texas (still the old west) saw a lot of mexicans coming in and looking for work. Mexicans brought with them marijuana, the first instance of it entering the US. Sometime in 1914, a group of white men were assaulted by a mexican who was allegedly high on the reefer. This led to swift action by the people of El Paso, and thus the El Paso ordinance of 1914 was passed, prohibiting possession and sale of cannabis. Now just think about this for a moment: when was the last time you were high on marijuana and wanted to start a fight with somebody for no reason? Never, right? You know what does do that to you? Whiskey.
Just ask an Irishman.
Regardless of what actually happened, this legislation was the first law in the US to prohibit marijuana in some shape or form. Ironically, it wasn't used so much as to control marijuana use but more so to control mexicans. So while laws like this one popped up across the southwest, the majority of the US had never even heard of marijuana. In fact, most people were worried about the opiate problem. So marijuana should have become only a minor issue if it weren't for this butthole: Harry J. Anslinger.
Even his chin had a butthole.
He was the first appointed Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Before that, he was the Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Prohibition. This guy was a very ambitious man and is the reason marijuana is illegal today. He was once quoted saying: "Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind". OK, so he had the public's best interests in mind, albeit a little extreme. But then there's this quote: "Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men" (source) OK, so he was a huge, bona-fide, definition of a racist. It seemed his biggest beef with weed was that it caused white women to have relations with black men, "contaminating" the gene pool. He was also the brains behind all that propaganda like Reefer Madness, which labeled it a drug that will make you go insane, then make you kill your friends, the ones you love, and everyone else around you. Effectively, marijuana made you a menace to society.
He will murder you.
People ate up propaganda like this because they didn't know any better. Besides, people back then believed everything that they were told, unlike today.
All of these claims were based on no hard evidence whatsoever. Anslinger's propaganda still worked like a charm, and soon all 50 states had signed on to his Uniform State Narcotic Act (now under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act). Then in 1937, public outcry to stop the evil drug caused the US government to pass the Marijuana Tax Act. The law said that you could grow marijuana, but you needed the stamps to do it. Otherwise it would be illegal to grow, sell, or possess it. But strangely enough, the treasury (who handled giving out stamps) didn't give out any stamps. Ever. Because if you asked for a stamp, you were arrested (See Leary v. United States).
See? The system works.
Another guy people point a finger at is William Randolph Hearst.
Winner of the Basset Hound look-alike competion in 1940.
He made newspapers and was a unappoligetic supporter of something called "yellow journalism". Supposedly, he had interests in the timber industry and actually helped Anslinger with his propaganda because hemp threatened his paper business. Although, these claims are difficult to substantiate and not many accuse him of such. However, he was often accused of pushing the country into the Spanish-American war in 1898 because he wanted to sell more newspapers. So, yeah, he was kind of a dick.
I could go on about how Richard Nixon founded the DEA, but that's enough talk about this history crap. Let's talk some science!
Marijuana owes it's properties to this dude right here:
Grateful Dead and Phish are forever in it's debt.
Tetrahydracannabinol (or THC for short) is the reason for all of marijuana's effects, and there's a lot of them: euphoria, possible anxiety, distorted perception of time and space, and increased metabolism (that one causes what's affectionately known as "the munchies"). Other adverse side effects include short-term memory loss, mood swings, bloodshot eyes, dry mouth or "cotton mouth", and decreased sex drive. Marijuana also makes music sound fucking sweeeet.
But is it harmful to humans? Well, since the dawn of recorded history, there has not been one instance of anyone who has died as a direct result of marijuana. In fact, you'd have to smoke approximately 1,500 lbs of weed "within about fifteen minutes in order to induce a lethal response." Source: (56 - 8) That's so impractical that it's comical. That's like smoking a blunt the size of a telephone pole, but still bigger than that.
All right, let's not get off topic here. Is marijuana a miracle cure? In California it's legal to buy it if you have a doctor's prescription for it. People with multiple sclerosis take it to ease their muscle pain, and glaucoma sufferers take it so they can see. But practically anyone can go to their doctor and say that they are depressed, or have chronic headaches, and get a prescription. So while marijuana does have it's benefits and won't make you go insane, the system that allows people to get their conditions treated by marijuana also extends it's arm to people who probably don't need it.
Some would disagree.
The marijuana debate has been going on for a while. Should we legalize it? If so, how would we regulate it and tax it? If you replaced a tabacco farm with marijuana, you'd have to set up electric fences and shit to keep the hippies from stealing that cheeba. There's already an illegal market for it, and that market promotes crime and more people incarcerated in the penal system. And we all know what happens in the penal system.
There's some "penals" involved.
Is it a miracle cure? Maybe, but it certainly is a miracle in its own right. How many drugs are plants that need nothing done to them besides sitting in the rays of the sun? And drying. And naming the flavor. Ok names need to change, marijuana naming council.