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Fact Tuesday: A Short History of Weed Laws

by Countable | 9.19.17

Each week, we dive a little deeper into the facts behind an issue: hurricane classifications, immigration in America, who uses DACA. This week, our topic is…what was I just writing?

Wow, I should not have eaten that whole brownie...always the same: take a few bites, think it’s not working, so eat the entire thing…

Oh, right, our topic is pot laws. It’s like in-laws but made of pot.

I should not have eaten that entire brownie.

Just The Facts

  • George Washington grew hemp at Mount Vernon as one of his three primary crops.

  • Medicinal cannabis entered the American pharmaceutical scene in the 1850s. In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act required labeling any cannabis found in over-the-counter products.

  • During the Great Depression, widespread unemployment led to public distrust of Mexican immigrants and their “marihuana.” Research at the time linked the use of the “evil weed” with crime, violence, and sexual deviancy. Viz., 1936 film Reefer Madness.

  • In 1930, Harry J. Anslinger became the first Commissioner of the newly-created Federal Bureau of Narcotics. In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, effectively criminalizing the warm smell of colitas.

  • In 1951, the Narcotics Control Act set mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses, including marijuana—which, in the eyes of the law, was as harmful as cocaine.

  • Recreational pot use increasing in the 1960s = the passing of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, which made it illegal to possess, use, sell, or grow indica or sativa. High Times was founded in 1974.

  • Nancy Reagan was not a subscriber. She urged kids to “Just Say No” to drugs in the 1980s. Meaning: the former first lady was sober for this photo of her sitting on the lap of Mr. T dressed like Santa Claus.

  • In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, making it the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

  • A number of states have followed suit, though marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” But in 2016, 57% of Americans surveyed said they think pot should be legal. For comparison, 57% of Americans also hit the snooze button each morning.

Did we forget anything? Are you one of the 57% who support recreational pot? Or was Nancy Reagan right urging “Just Say No”? What do you think clouds taste like? Hit the Share button and comment below.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons, PolitiFact.com)

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(56)
  • Bluewitsend
    09/19/2017
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    I support the legalization of marijuana. Regulate it, legalize it, tax it, and go on down the road. The time has come just like it did during prohibition. It would be a positive healthcare move too. We have already researched it as a defense against opioids addiction when it comes to pain and many other illnesses.

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  • Heidi
    09/19/2017
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    Hemp and cannabis were deleted from the market by DuPont and others to boost business for synthetics and other materials they wanted to market. Hemp is very sustainable and non narcotic and can be used to make clothing, animal feed, etc. cannabis has medical value (as do many plants) and should be open for research and use.

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  • Deirdre
    09/19/2017
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    Legalize cannabis! So many jobs and with taxes so much money for each state. It's a win win all around! The medicinal aspect of cannabis is truly amazing. And if someone wants to smoke it instead of drinking, which causes more issues, why not?

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  • Robert
    09/19/2017
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    I support the legalization of marijuana. The only people who seem to disagree or goes with the monetary interest that would be the penal system with privatize prisons and the pharmaceutical companies. Asked to Jeff sessionsand his opinion they're good people don't smoke weed, all I can say is There a lot of good people who smoke weed, but what would he know about good people, good people do not discriminate against their fellow man.

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  • Jerry
    09/20/2017
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    Time to legalize and control like alcohol. Stop using it to fill for-profit prisons.

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  • Julia
    09/19/2017
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    Please legalize marijuana and release those already in prison for using and selling marijuana (as wonderful people like Chance the Rapper has suggested). It has been proven so many times to be safer to use than alcohol and tobacco, why not just be rational and legalize it? Is that so hard? While we are at it why not legalize all drugs and instead of throwing addicts in cages we try to help them? Why not put our money to good use? I'm tired of you spending my tax dollars to imprison people and destroy families.

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  • James
    09/19/2017
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    "To make marijuana illegal, is like saying that God made a mistake." -Bill Hicks-

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  • Timnyc
    09/19/2017
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    As much I think we don't need another vice legalized in this country. This one is worth investigating further. Let's legalize marijuana and study it's long term use and abuse and tax it use the federal tax penalties to pay for treatment of drugs we do know hurt kill and destroy families. Now there is to much LE time money and manpower wasted on this non-lethal substance.

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  • OlderNWiser
    09/19/2017
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    Rather than science, Aslinger was doing in 1936 what would be very popular in this white supremacists White House, demonizing brown people for political control. Reefer Madness was hysterical showing people tweaking on meth--not smoking cannabis--as purported. The physicians I worked with thought cannabis to be a wonderful prescription and didn't even connect it to the name used to demonize it (after we stole whole states from Mexico.) The way cannabis decreases pain, nausea, anorexia, and anxiety is beautiful. Researching it when my husband was dying of cancer, I was impressed that it helps animals, so there goes the idea of placebo effect. I have seen hard working users, scholarly users, kind loving stoners. Don't let corporations take over this magical plant too. This retired RN MFT supports pot 100%.

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  • Morgan
    09/19/2017
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    Again, if you look back in history Marihuano (the name they gave it in a negative light) was widely used. Hello !!! George Washington grew it as one of his major crops! It was only regulated by again, the US government ?? so they can control it as they want the big pharmaceutical companies to charge us high prices and pill us to death. If they're going to leave healthcare up to state by state. Why don't they do the same thing with marijuana hell why are we even the United States 🇺🇸 we are not united? If it's a state-by-state thing maybe we should put all the states that have the same values and views together as a country 😊🤔and then ones that don't agree ,put them together as a country?? that would solve everything?

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  • James
    09/20/2017
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    Pharmaceutical companies would prefer we invest the synthetic poisons they make, because it is a lucrative business, they control congress & the senate, with contributions to their campaigns, therefore their greed, keeps us from getting something safe & affordable, they instead prefer we pay ridiculous prices for their drugs, just disgusting

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  • CombatVeteran
    09/19/2017
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    Absolutely, I support marijuana. It's a natural plant that has extremely beneficial qualities. Leave it to some bureaucrat to outlaw a plant. Anyway, it's harmless and only provides positive results. It's a no brainer.

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  • KansasTamale
    09/20/2017
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    Legalize it, the state government's tax it, a fed tax and it'll be the same as alcohol. No person who takes medical marijuana or smokes marijuana causes problems with the law, except to be incarcerated because they had marijuana on them. Release all who have been incarcerated because of it.

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  • Jennifer
    09/19/2017
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    Clouds taste metallic, everyone knows that! Marijuana should be decriminalized, and all incarcerated marijuana offenders set free.

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  • Harvey
    09/19/2017
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    it should be legal !

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  • SouthernGal
    09/20/2017
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    I support the legalization of cannabis. I have severe arthritis and cannabis keeps me moving and functioning. I tried pain pills that made me high, but did nothing for the pain. Cannabis controls the pain and let's me live my life as I want.

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  • Philip
    09/19/2017
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    It was a great move for Maine to legalize the growing, possession, and use of marijuana. It is also important for Maine to create a way to monetize this so that all of Maine can benefit financially. We need to study other states that are successfully collecting significant sums to help pay for other needs and supplement tax revenues.

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  • Priscilla
    09/20/2017
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    Legalize marijuana federally.

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  • Jeanne
    09/20/2017
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    To quote Barbara: "I support the legalization of marijuana. Regulate it, legalize it, tax it, and go on down the road. The time has come just like it did during prohibition. It would be a positive healthcare move too. We have already researched it as a defense against opioids addiction when it comes to pain and many other illnesses."

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  • Careen
    09/20/2017
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    We need to stop allowing large companies, pharmaceutical companies, and for-profit prison investors from preventing people usage of a natural alternative to pharmaceutical poisons. There is no proof it's a gateway drug. Legalization in some states has proven to be a boon for the local tax payer. It's time to make the change.

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