For the greater part of the last century, American’s have been witness to one of the most expensive and ignorant wars in our country’s history. The war on drugs, and more specifically the war on marijuana, is at best considered an utter failure. This is evident in national polls supporting marijuana legalization, scientifically proven medical benefits of marijuana, the availability of marijuana to all age groups regardless of its illegality, the incredible uses for industrial hemp, and the extremely high costs of both prosecution and incarceration for marijuana related “crimes”. It is time we as a nation demand a more sensible spending of our tax money from our government.
Prior to its ban, Cannabis, or “marijuana” as most know it, was very much legal in the United States. The first law in the U.S regarding marijuana was a law passed in 1619, which actually required farmers in Virginia to grow hemp. Cannabis hemp was a staple crop of American society, and was even accepted as legal tender in several states. By the time the 1900’s came around, Cannabis was being touted as the new billion-dollar crop.
The war on Cannabis in America started in 1930 and was lead by one man, Harry J Anslinger. His personal crusade against Cannabis was a direct result of lobbyists from the lumber, cotton, and pharmaceutical industries who saw Cannabis as a serious threat to their business. Cannabis was a multi-purpose plant with medical benefits and a growing cycle shorter cotton.
At this point in American history, mass media was becoming very popular. Anslinger took advantage of this and his relentless assaults on marijuana spared no one. He began to use race, and scare tactics in the media as means to push his anti-marijuana agenda. This included stories about how marijuana made white women love black men. This anti-marijuana agenda culminated in the release of Reefer Madness, a film portraying wildly misguided facts of marijuana use. Fear crept in, and marijuana was out. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 made it illegal for Americans to grow Cannabis on their land with out a specialized tax stamp. Those who wanted to continue to grow had to bring their Cannabis to government officials, pay their tax, and get their stamp. However, not long after the law was passed they stopped giving out the stamps all together.
Prohibition continued throughout the years but seemed to lose steam towards the end of the 1960’s. The war however, was reignited in the 1969 when Richard Nixon took office towards the end of the Vietnam War. Americans who opposed the war, or “hippies” as the Nixon administration thought of them, were youthful and passionate about their strong feelings against the war. They also had one other thing in common, the use of marijuana. He could not stand by and let their message of peace carry to the masses, and could not legally stop a peaceful protest. Insert, The Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which listed marijuana as a schedule one narcotic with high possibility for abuse and no medicinal value. When Nixon passed this act into law he effectively was able to shut down the protests because police were now able to arrest anyone in possession of small amounts marijuana. With no protesters on the street, Nixon was able to do what he wanted.
Though the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is still very much in place, marijuana has come a long way. Studies over the years have shown that marijuana has true medical value, regardless of the federal governments adamant denial of these facts. Currently 18 states and the District of Columbia; our nations capitol, have passed laws at the state level allowing marijuana for medicinal use. Marijuana has been proven effective for a long list of ailments and diseases; rheumatoid arthritis, glaucoma, and cancer are just a few of the reasons marijuana is being prescribed to citizens of these states. Patients today are still hesitant to consume because of the very real threat that the D.E.A could come knocking on the door and haul them off to jail.
In November of 2012, two states shocked the nation and sent a message loud and clear to the federal government. Both Colorado and Washington State passed monumental bills, legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults 21 and over though a taxed and regulated market. They took it upon themselves to end the prohibition of marijuana in their respective states and since these laws were passed several other state governments have been looking into legalizing marijuana. This includes Kentucky, who recently passed a bill allowing the growth of industrial hemp, which is useful for hundreds, if not thousands, of products.
According to stopthedrugwar.org, the current federal drug budget surpasses 15 billion dollars per year, which only is responsible for arrests. That number almost doubles when the cost of both prosecution and incarceration are added. Of that 26.2 billion dollar budget, about 75% of it is spent pursuing marijuana; the poster child of the drug war. According to NORML.org each year in America over 700,000 people are arrested for simple possession of marijuana. This not only costs Americans legally, in the form of a permanent record, but it hurts them in other ways that most never think of.
The cost of the current war on marijuana is detrimental to America. Spending money on marijuana enforcement takes officers away from pursuing real crime such as robbery or murder. Marijuana has been ingrained in our minds as a “crime”, yet marijuana has no victim.
The last leg the federal government is standing on to oppose the legalization of marijuana is the protection of our youth. However, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University it is clear that teens are able to get their hands on marijuana easier than both tobacco and alcohol. While tobacco has been legal forever, alcohol was once prohibited; but is now taxed, regulated, and controlled. Legalization, taxation, and regulation are the only logical solutions to this current problem if protecting the children is the most important thing.
Today, national polls show that over 50% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana; and as the tide continues to turn toward marijuana legalization, the federal government will be forced to address this issue for what it is; an irrational attack on potentially the most beneficial plant on Earth. With the United States national debt currently totaling more than $16,000,000,000,000, our resources could certainly be used in a way more beneficial to the American people. For the better part of a century, we Americans have been force fed lies and misguided truths to support this failed war on Cannabis, it is up to us to end this madness.
We here at Legalize Ohio fully support the legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana. Together with your help we can make this happen. Join the fight today! Stand up for what you believe in!