Why should marijuana be legalized? Well, before that question can be answered another question needs to be asked and answered first. How and why did marijuana and hemp become illegal? That question from the research that I have undertaken since high school has provided me with varying reasons for the prohibition of marijuana and hemp.
From my understanding, the laws that were enacted which later led Congress to make marijuana and hemp illegal occurred for different reasons and in different parts of the country. To further understand the laws that led to the "Prohibition," a history of this country and the attitudes of its citizens towards people of different ethnic groups from the "ruling class/majority" needs to be understood.
The first criminal law that was enacted against marijuana came in August 1915. For those who remember their US History (probably not many), the citizens who had the biggest impact on society and its laws during that time period were the Mormons, a religious group, who settled in the area during the 1840's. So what was the reason that the Mormons enacted what became known as the first criminal law against marijuana? The Mormons felt that it was contrary to their religion, so it's use was outlawed and because of the influence the Mormons had at the time, the state legislature convened in October 1915 and passed all of the Mormon's religious prohibitions as criminal law.
I guess what continues to keep marijuana (and hemp) illegal is what made it prohibited in the southwest and northeast, ignorance and a lack of information. You may be thinking now, what does he mean by ignorance and a lack of information?! Well, let me say it like this, in the southwest, specifically Texas, it was the ignorance of those who make the laws and the citizens of Texas; they felt that "All Mexicans are crazy" and their "craziness" was because of smoking "weed." More from the Texas Senate:
"All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff (referring to marijuana) is what makes them crazy." Or, as the proponent of Montana's first marijuana law said, "Give one of these Mexican beet field workers a couple of puffs on a marijuana cigarette and he thinks he is in the bullring at Barcelona."
You may be thinking now, big deal, that was then and that was in Texas, however, that was not the only place that ignorance played a role in the prohibition of marijuana.
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Last Modified: 13 October 2006 EST