NICK PANETTAHistorically, marijuana drug laws are the product of a lack of knowledge, and what must either be described as propaganda or complete lunacy. Prior to the federal Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, 27 states had passed laws against marijuana. Those states could be categorized into three groups: Southwestern, Northeastern and Utah.
Looking at the legislation, it's obvious the Southwestern states outlawed marijuana to control an undesired Mexican population. It wasn't marijuana that legislatures were fighting, it was its users; cheap Mexican labor was a problem. Congressmen rallied around statements such as, "All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy," and "Give one of these Mexican beet field workers a couple of puffs on a marijuana cigarette and he thinks he is in the bullring at Barcelona."
Northeastern states had entirely different reasons for the ban. According to a 1919 New York Times editorial, "No one here in New York uses this drug marijuana. We have only just heard about it from down in the Southwest, but we had better prohibit its use before it gets here. Otherwise all the heroin and hard narcotics addicts … and all the alcohol drinkers … will substitute this new and unknown drug marijuana."
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