Cannabis prohibition has been around for more than eight decades now. It started back in 1937 with the signing of the MJ Tax Act. From here, a war was waged against not only a misunderstood plant but against the people that supported it. Draconian prohibition has ruined countless lives and destroyed families across the country. Finally, in modern times today, we are seeing this outdated way of thinking coming to an end and reform making waves across the US.
Cannabis prohibition was born out of racism. It was fueled by a racist individual named Harry J Anslinger and his accomplice William Randolph Hearst. What these two men started over eight decades ago is finally starting to come to an end. While these individuals may be credited with helping to start prohibition, many others have helped support it and fuel it along the way.
Former US Presidents Nixon, Regan, Bush, Clinton, and Obama all played roles in assisting the attempted eradication of cannabis via the War on Drugs. Nixon played his part in creating the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 that deemed cannabis or marijuana (also sometimes spelled marihuana), as the uneducated government calls it, a schedule 1 substance with an extremely high addiction rate and absolutely no medical value. Reagan did his part ushering in the War on Drugs with the ‘Just Say No’ campaign. Former President Bill Clinton didn’t help matters with his “I didn’t inhale” skit, and Obama had one of the highest incarceration rates for cannabis convictions out of all presidents. Today we Face the Trump era. This is an era where statements like “having marijuana on the ballot hurts Republican candidates” are being thrown around by our President.
Pull out the rabbit foot, your four-leaf clover, carp scales, acorns, your Dala horse, the dreamcatcher, an elephant with the trunk pointing up, perhaps even a horseshoe or maybe even a laughing Buddha. Basically, break out all the good luck charms you can. With a little fortune in favor of the people, the US federal government might end cannabis prohibition on a federal level. During the week of Sept 21st, Congressional leadership has confirmed the House will place a vote on whether or not to remove cannabis from the CSA.
The vote in question will be on the MORE Act, which stands for the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act. Should the House approve this Act many different things could happen. First of all, people might stop actually going to jail for cannabis. Besides the obvious, the MORE Act would expunge records of prior cannabis convictions, add a 5% federal sales tax, and ultimately deschedule cannabis from its current schedule 1 status. It doesn’t stop there. Immigrants seeking citizenship in the US would no longer be denied access to cannabis. It would also open doors for restructuring and resentencing for those currently incarcerated for cannabis crimes.
Legalizing cannabis should be a no-brainer. The federal government has had many of their own try to change past mistakes since they were made. Mayor LaGuardia did this back in the 1940s with the LaGuardia Committee Reports. These reports included the federal government was exaggerating the effects of cannabis and that the country’s people were in favor of it being legal. Again in 1972, William Shafer surprised Nixon by taking the side supporting cannabis legalization once again. A quote from the Shafer Commission Reported stated the following;
“A careful search of the literature and testimony of the nation’s health officials has not revealed a single human fatality in the United States proven to have resulted solely from ingestion of marihuana. Experiments with the drug in monkeys demonstrated that the dose required for overdose death was enormous and, for all practical purposes, unachievable by humans smoking marihuana. This is in marked contrast to other substances in common use, most notably alcohol and barbiturate sleeping pills.”
Fast forward to the current time, and we stand on the precipice of a new era. An era that acknowledges the lies and racism of the past used to create and fuel cannabis prohibition. An era that could stand to prevent future injustices for minorities and people of color. The era and society of now, of course, is one open for cannabis legalization across the country. Politicians currently would utilize the 5% federal sales tax to be placed back into communities that were most impacted by the War on Drugs. This is basically the government’s nice way of saying they will use what they used to incarcerate people with for decades to slowly pay back the communities most impacted by their attempted eradication of a miraculous plant.
Currently, the United States of America is in turmoil. Not only are we dealing with a pandemic but also rampant racism and pedophilia in the spotlight. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said, “less than two years ago we put our blueprint outlining a path to cannabis legalization in the 116th Congress. Now, after many months of hard work in collaboration, we finally have a chance to end the failed policy of prohibition that has resulted in a long and shameful. I’m selective enforcement against people of color, especially black men.”
The tides have changed after decades of having dirt thrown on countless seeds. Instead of covering them up and watching them go away, they did something unexpected. All the seeds covered by the dirt of prohibition sprouted and cultivated a beautiful forest that spans across the globe. This forest can no longer be silenced. Cannabis is not a street drug with no medicinal value. In fact, it holds an unlimited potential of medicinal values as well as commercial and industrial applications that can change our future, ushering in a greener tomorrow.
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