In an, earlier writing, we expressed our profound objection to the criminalization of [the distribution and use of] cannabis (marijuana). Our main point was, to the effect that, in a Nation, where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, was inherent, and inaliable, such prohibition was invalid and unconstitutinal, unless some basis, founded in the safety or health of society, were the justification. Previous explanations, such as, it is a “gateway drug” to more serious indulgences, in harder drugs and the possibility of addiction, have all been, empirically, debunked. Any health argument, is certainly belied by the legal use and sale of tobacco products, which have been officially proven, to be dangerous to health, and, demonstrably, lethal. We declared, that we have never smoked anything, and have no desire to do so; but do have an objection to all unwarranted limitations on liberty.
We persisted in our frustrating search for the rationalization and historic foundation for the criminalization of cannabis, and actually succeede,d in ascertaining the answer. The historic and legal (purported) justification was profoundly shocking, and morally reprehensible. Prior to our current recommendations, we would like to recite such shameful history, as discovered.
In the early 1900’s, following the termination of the Mexican War, apparently, there was a substantial influx of Mexicans, into the United States, most particularly, to Southern States, like Texas and Louisiana. The incoming Mexicans, naturally, brought with them, their National language, culture and customs. One custom was the use of cannabis, for medical reasons, and for relaxation. The denigration of marijuana use was part of the populist denigration of the Mexican immigrant (as appears to be eternally, the case). The prohibition of use of the substance, was, in reality, an excuse, to “control,” and deport, newly arrived Mexicans.
San Francisco, perniciously, created such a law, to “control” the large, sudden, immigration of Chinese people. It provided the spurious and obnoxious grounds to detain, search and prosecute the immigrant, found, in possession, or using opium.
The prohibition of marijuana, became a popular rationale, for the control of the population, especially immigrants, placing them, by such strategy, under the watchful and legal eye of the authorities. Congressional Acts were attempted to ameliorate the situation, in 1931, and thereafter, but were unsuccessful, or repealed. In 1970, The Controlled Substances Law, was passed, making all “drug” use criminal. Efforts to downgrade cannabis, listed with the hard drugs like heroin and opium, were defeated by the Nixon Administration.
It is the (unverified) opinion, of this blogpost, that marijuana criminalization was also a useful (and, improper) stratagem for the prosecution, by authorities, of protesters against the Viet Nam War, and also, for similarly improper methods of control, or prosecution of selected individuals, pubicly protesting for Civil Rights.
Beto O’Rourke, one of the contenders for the Democratic Party’s Presidential Nomination, has observed, that there are no less than2.3 million of our fellow Americans behind bars, (the largest prison population, on the planet) and that many have been incarcerated for drug crimes, including, the mere possession of marijuana, at a time when more than one-half of the States have legalized or decriminalized it.
If we are a Nation guided by the basic principles of law and justice for all, it appears that it is about time that the unfounded laws criminalizing marijuana be repealed; and that all non-violent people, incarcerated, solely on “marijuana offenses”, be immediately, freed, (perhaps with an overdue apology). -p.