Marijuana has a long history of human use in the United States. The cannabis plant grew wild throughout much of the country. Native Americans used it as a source of rope, oils, medicine, and food before European settlers arrived. Hemp (a variety of Cannabis) fiber was even mandatory in the American Declaration of Independence to help make it into ropes, canvas, and other materials for ships.
The History of Cannabis in the United States
The cultivation of Cannabis was outlawed in the United States in 1937.
The MTA effectively ended all medical use of marijuana at that time. It imposed an extraordinarily high tax on anyone who dealt commercially with Cannabis. This tax required a license even to possess the plant. The passage of the MTA, and several similar laws that followed, effectively criminalized marijuana possession nationwide.
That was dumb.
Despite the prohibition on use and cultivation, Cannabis was widely available during the mid-20th century. This was due to its everyday presence in unprocessed imported hemp products such as rope, fabric, and paper. Hundreds of thousands of people were arrested for possessing small amounts in the following decades. Many are young African Americans and Latinos, although statistics show that use was higher among whites.
In 1970, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)
This racist, bigoted law created five schedules (classifications) for drugs, including Cannabis, based on acceptable medical use and potential for abuse. Marijuana was classified as a Schedule I substance. It had no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. It was claimed to have a high potential for abuse and is unsafe to administer, even under medical supervision.
These classifications have remained unchanged even though studies indicated Cannabis has medical value. About half of the states passed laws in the 1970s making marijuana legal for at least some medical use. Under these circumstances, the federal government did little to enforce prohibition until the mid-1990s, when a shift occurred towards harsher penalties for drug crimes.
Around this time…
…many states began to pass laws to authorize the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana. The federal court held that the CSA prohibited any such activity. This meant that state-sanctioned cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana remained illegal.
In recent years, support for the legalization of Cannabis has grown substantially among voters and lawmakers alike. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, the District of Columbia, and 28 other states have legalized it for recreational use.
Several additional states have passed more limited laws…
…allowing specific benefits of marijuana. These state laws directly conflict with federal law. The federal government has intervened in several of these states. The State has damagingly brought criminal charges against people who operated licensed dispensaries and growers for violating federal statutes prohibiting the cultivation, distribution, and possession of Cannabis.
The Stone Conclusion
In the end, most people will agree that criminalizing such a helpful and harmless plant is ridiculous. Many people die each year from preventable diseases due to the lazy thinking of European Descendants. Profits over people are no longer with the decriminalization and legalization of Cannabis.