Before the rest of this blog post I would like to preface that I do not smoke marijuana either recreationally or medicinally and will continue to follow the laws regarding all controlled substances in the United States.
Marijuana as we know it comes from the cannabis plant, what is commonly smoked and used for medical purposes around the world comes from the flowers of it. Some cannabis plants are used primarily for the cultivation of it’s flowers and the THC and CBD oils that can be derived from them, while other cannabis plants are used for a material called hemp. Hemp is a super durable and cost effective alternative to many different products such as paper, cotton and other popular goods. Unfortunately the legality of growing cannabis of any kind, for hemp or for flowers, is outlawed by the US government. While the government still stands by the reasoning that all forms of cannabis will lead to memory loss and crime (see 1936’s “Reefer Madness” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbjHOBJzhb0), the true reasoning behind this policy is rooted in special interest groups and lobbying. In the 1930’s William Randolph Hearst, the owner of a large chain of newspapers and paper mills, felt threatened by the prospect of a new crop (that product being hemp) that could be used to make a better stronger version of the product that he had the market virtually cornered on. Now good ole’ Billy Hearst did not want for his massive investment in the timber and the timber industry to go to waste. So using his power of the press, he published articles about the dangerous side effects of consuming marijuana. Most of his claims had zero basis in science and some were outright racist and inappropriate. In doing this the public now looked at marijuana with a negative light. All the while William Randolph Hearst was turning the literate masses against marijuana, Harry J. Aslinger was named the head of the new Federal Department of Narcotics. Instead of doing his job of keeping dangerous opiates and narcotics out of the streets, he focused on pushing his own racist agenda. According to him, the primary users of marijuana at the time were black people who went to jazz clubs and hispanics. In the act of criminalizing marijuana, people of these races and ethnicities, could put these people in prison based off of one man’s racist ideas!
Since the 1930’s Marijuana laws have been left virtually unchanged on a federal level. Regardless of what laws that each individual state passes, marijuana is still classified as a schedule 1 drug. While states like Colorado, Washington and Alaska have legalized marijuana for recreational use and many more states adopting medicinal marijuana, the federal government can send in the FBI, DEA and the ATF to arrest any one who sells, grows, buys or uses marijuana regardless of their states laws can be put in federal prison. The support for the legalization of marijuana on a federal level has never been as popular as it is today. With newfound medicinal uses for the drug and the success that legalization is having in recreational states people want legalization and they want it now. But because of big tobacco, alcohol and prison guard lobbyists, it is more profitable for congressmen and women to keep the drug illegal so that they can line their pockets with dirty political money.