Marijuana Prohibition: 80 Years On
This week marks the 80th anniversary of marijuana prohibition in the United States. In 1937, the federal government officially criminalized marijuana, prohibiting the sale, cultivation, and consumption of cannabis. 80 years on, marijuana is still federally illegal. But how far have we come as a nation where cannabis is concerned?
To better understand the future of cannabis in the United States, we first need to understand its past. We all know about the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. It marked the official start of marijuana prohibition in the United States and effectively criminalized cannabis. However, as far back as 1911, Massachusets required people to have a prescription for weed in order to buy it. One by one states put into place laws that would prohibit cannabis within their jurisdiction. Marijuana prohibition was born.
Since it's criminalization, a war has been waged on the cannabis plant. Fear has been spread around it. It has been labeled 'dangerous' and a 'gateway drug' and has also been used to demonize certain groups who use it. Prisons are overflowing yet people continue to be arrested for smoking weed. It seems the remnants of 1937 remain prominent within our nation to this day. However, through the hard work of groups and individuals, steps have been taken to clear marijuana's name.
So, how far have we come since 1937? In 2017, 29 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have medical marijuana programs. 8 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation allowing for the recreational use of cannabis. More and more research is being done into the health benefits of the cannabis plant and it seems like some of the damage of marijuana prohibition is starting to be reversed. The cannabis industry is the fastest growing industry in the United States with more and more jobs being created every single day. Cannabis is booming.
However, we've still got a lot of work to do. Half of the country still blocks access to cannabis for those who need it most. Marijuana prohibition is still in effect, at least in terms of federal law. And there are blocks being put in place for those states that have legalized recreationally that are stopping major cities from seeing their legalization through.
Lessons from history tell us that marijuana prohibition no longer makes sense. That is if it ever did in the first place. It's time for it to end.