The speed with which Americans are now considering legalizing marijuana has taken everyone by surprise. But in the midst of this shift in public opinion and state law it is worth remembering the speed with which marijuana was made illegal. This month Stephen Siff looks at how political and racial factors combined with the way marijuana users were portrayed in the media to create the "illegalization" of marijuana across the 20th century.
Pres[ edit ] InKing James I decreed that the American colonists of Jamestown would need to step up efforts to do their fair share towards supporting England. The Virginia Company enacted the decree, asking Jamestown's land owners to grow and export hemp plants to help support England's cause. Later the colonists would grow it to support its expansion in the Americas.
George Washington grew hemp at Mount Vernon as one of his three primary crops.
The use of hemp for rope and fabric later became ubiquitous throughout the 18th and 19th centuries in the United States. Medicinal preparations of cannabis became available in American pharmacies in the s following an introduction to its use in Western medicine by William O'Shaughnessy a decade earlier in Poison laws generally either required labels on the packaging indicating the harmful effects of the drugs or prohibited sale outside of licensed pharmacies and without a doctor's prescription.
Those that required labeling often required the word "poison" if the drug was not issued by a pharmacy.
Other regulations were prohibitions on the sale to minors, as well as restrictions on refills. Some pharmaceutical laws specifically enumerated the drugs that came under the effect of the regulations, while others did not—leaving the matter to medical experts.
Those that did generally included references to cannabis, either under the category of "cannabis and its preparations" or "hemp and its preparations.
Eight states are listed with "sale of poisons" laws that specifically mention cannabis: Among those states that required a prescription for sale were Wisconsin and Louisiana.
Many states did not consider cannabis a "poison" but required it be labeled. The first draft of the bill 'An act to regulate the sale of poisons' prohibited the sale of cannabis—as with the other substances—without the written order of a physician.
Inthe section which enumerated the substances was repealed with an amendatory act, though cannabis was still required to be labeled.
A bill introduced in in the California state legislature was titled 'An act to regulate the sale of opium and other narcotic poisons' and would have forbidden anyone to keep, sell, furnish, or give away any "preparations or mixtures made or prepared from opium, hemp, or other narcotic drugs" without a doctor's prescription at a licensed store.
That bill was withdrawn in favor of one specifically aimed at opium, though further bills including hemp-based drugs were introduced in and in It was estimated there were around such establishments in New York City alone.
Previously, many drugs had been sold as patent medicines with secret ingredients or misleading labels. The new revisions aimed to restrict all narcotics, including cannabis, as poisons, limit their sale to pharmacies, and require doctor's prescriptions.
The first instance was in the District of Columbia inunder "An act to regulate the practice of pharmacy and the sale of poisons in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes". The act was updated in to the Federal Pure Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act of which remains in effect even today, creating a legal paradox for federal sentencing.
Under this act, the framework for prescription and non-prescription drugs and foods are set, along with standards as well as the enforcing agency, the Food and Drug Administration FDA. That, combined with a legal requirement that all convictions be published Notices of Judgmentproved to be important tools in the enforcement of the statute and had a deterrent effect upon would-be violators.
In New York, reform legislation began under the Towns-Boylan Act, which targeted all "habit-forming drugs", restricted their sale, prohibited refills in order to prevent habituation, prohibited sale to people with a habit, and prohibited doctors who were themselves habituated from selling them.
The inclusion of Cannabis indica among the drugs to be sold only on prescription is common sense. Devotees of hashish are now hardly numerous here enough to count, but they are likely to increase as other narcotics become harder to obtain.
The Poison Act was passed in and amended in andand in an amendatory act was made to make possession of "extracts, tinctures, or other narcotic preparations of hemp, or loco-weed, their preparations and compounds" a misdemeanor. Shortly afterwards, the Great Depression came which increased tensions as jobs and resources became more scarce.
Because of that, the passage of the initial laws is often described as a product of racism, yet the use of hashish by Near Eastern immigrants was also cited, as well as the misuse of pharmaceutical hemp, and the laws conformed with other legislation that was being passed around the country.
Mexico itself had passed prohibition infollowing the International Opium Convention see below. The convention did not ban trade in fibers and other similar products from European hemp, traditionally grown in the United States. According to the edition of the Swedish encyclopedia Nordisk familjebokthe European hemp grown for its fibers lacks the THC content that characterizes Indian hemp.
It was argued that the traffic in narcotic drugs should have the same safeguards and the same regulation in all of the states.
The committee took into consideration the fact that the federal government had already passed the Harrison Act in and the Federal Import and Export Act in Beginning of parents' movement against marijuana A nationwide movement emerged of conservative parents' groups lobbying for stricter regulation of marijuana and the prevention of drug use by.
Oct 22, · "There is a growing sense among the U.S. population that it is time to end our nation's failed experiment with marijuana prohibition," Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy.
The group, which supported O'Rourke when he first ran for Congress, hailed him as a “true champion for abolishing our disastrous prohibition on marijuana since the very beginning of his. If a single date marks the beginning of the end for the legal prohibition of marijuana, there’s a very good case for January 1, On .
Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from to During the nineteenth century, alcoholism, family violence, and saloon-based political corruption prompted activists, led by pietistic Protestants, to end the alcoholic beverage.
The legal history of cannabis in the United States pertains to the regulation of cannabis (legal term marijuana or marihuana) for medical, recreational, and industrial purposes in the United States.
Increased restrictions and labeling of cannabis as a poison began in many states from onward, and outright prohibitions began in the s.