History of cannabis illegalization. Once upon a time cannabis was freely cultivated and used in the USA. What happened to pass from this free system to the total and global illegalization and going back again to declare it legal? It is a very interesting story where many factors are included.
Until the XX th century cannabis was widely cultivated in order to produce medications and different kind of fabrics.
Cultivating hemp and marijuana was not only legal in the new world. Its culture was encouraged by the United Kingdom in the colonies (what today is the USA). It was even used as legal tender in some of the mentioned colonies. One way or another it continued being legal and socially accepted until the middle of twentieth century more or less.
During the beginning of the twentieth century starts the attack on cannabis. Why? It all started with the Mexican revolution and war in the early 1900,s. As it always happens, the war produced a remarkable migration of people trying to escape the horrors of the war and the lack of financial possibilities. The immigrants brought with them their customs related to the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
However, the way these people consumed cannabis was completely different. They smoked the leaves and flowers and called the product “marihuana”: a word unknown by the US citizens. Immediately the media began to attack the immigration and started to spread rumors about the Mexicans immigrants behavior.
The head of Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) Harry J. Anslinger argued that Mexicans were causing the increase of marijuana smoking among the middle class people. The immediate consequence was that President Roosevelt adopted cannabis restrictions. Despite being opposed by the American Medical Association, who considered cannabis had many medical properties, the Federal Government charged cannabis with taxes. This was the first step.
From 1950 to 1970 the full prohibition was completed.
With the entry of America in the World War II,the US Government needed hemp again to produce fabric for parachutes, ropes and so. They even distributed free seeds among the farmers to promote the cultivation. But after the war, reports found that marijuana use was going up among the college and high schools students. These young men and women “smoked” marijuana instead of using the traditional hemp oils. Suddenly cannabis was considered a very addictive drug.
Finally Richard Nixon during his campaign in 1968 declared war against drug abuse. In 1970 the federal government included cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act which considered this product one of the most dangerous substances that deserved the highest penalty without making any difference between hemp and marijuana.
The situation continued being like this until during the decade of 1990 it started to reverse and some years later cannabis was declared legal in many states.