Do You Know Why Marijuana Is Illegal? The Real Reasons Are Much Worse Than You Think
In the states where marijuana has been legalized, white voters make up the majority. Now I bet you're wondering: what does race have to do with this? Well, if you look back to the beginning of marijuana prohibition, race was everything.
If you were to ask the average concerned mother today why marijuana is bad, they might tell you that it's dangerous to smoke marijuana and drive, which isn't necessarily false, or that marijuana isn't good for the developing brains of children. But if you went back in time 80 years and asked the same question, the answer would be a little different.
"There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S.," said Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which was the predecessor of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "And most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others."
"Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men," he continued.
On top of these awful racist allegations, there were numerous falsehoods spread about the plant. They said it was more dangerous than other, harder drugs. They even warned that marijuana would "lead to pacifism," as if that were such an awful thing. Some of their charges were ridiculous.
"If the hideous monster Frankenstein came face to face with marijuana, he would drop dead of fright," Anslinger declared in a 1936 anti-marijuana film titled "Reefer Madness." How intimidating.
Many drug laws were simply racist and lawmakers had no issue with declaring it. Numerous drug laws, particularly in the south, fit in nicely with the Jim Crow system.
But thank goodness we can put all of that nasty racism behind us, right? Well, not so fast.
According to a study conducted by the ACLU in 2013, black people were about four times as likely to be arrested and charged with marijuana possession than white people, despite the fact that both races used marijuana at the same rates. In several states, blacks were six times more likely to be arrested. By the age of 23, nearly half of all black man have been arrested.