It seems that the United States is becoming more lenient with its cannabis laws. Eight states allow recreational use of cannabis, and many other states allow medical use. If you think you are living in the 420-friendliest era ever, though, you are too young. The story of the legalization of weed begins with the criminalization of weed. Yes, there was a time, long ago, before cannabis was illegal. Weed used to be legal by default.
United States history is full of moral panics, often scapegoating one or another group. If you were born before 1985, you probably remember the controversies about alleged evil subliminal messages in rock music. You might even remember the false claims about children being abused by Satanic cults. You might think the world went crazy in the 80s, but these moral panics are nothing new. Causing hysteria by saying that something is more dangerous than it is has been around for a long time.
Criminalizing marijuana in the early to mid-twentieth century had a lot to do with prejudice against Mexican-Americans. Racist stereotypes about Mexican-Americans being criminals who smoked marijuana led the public to support the criminalization of cannabis. Racist attitudes toward African-Americans and Asian-Americans also played into the criminalization of opium, specifically heroin. Consider that the same people who regarded cocaine as dangerous when purchased in inner city black neighborhoods didn’t bat an eye when white celebrities used it. Cocaine was less scary to them when being consumed at Studio 54 or backstage at Saturday Night Live.
Today, the tide is turning toward the acceptance of medical cannabis. Today, the following states even allow recreational cannabis:
Several other states also allow it. The best news, though, is that medical cannabis is even more widely available. You can even apply for a medical marijuana card online from Dr. Weedy.