Marijuana Prohibition Turns 100 Today. What Is There to Celebrate?

Categories: Marijuana
devilsharvest.jpg
Celebrate the birth of prohibition -- get high!
Alcohol prohibition did little to stop Americans from guzzling booze, though it helped make gangsters rich, cops and courts busy, and encouraged foreign imports of "medicinal whiskey" (sound familiar?)

That experiment was short-lived -- ratified in 1920, the 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was repealed in 1933 -- and particularly short-lived in comparison to the country's experiment with outlawing marijuana -- which turns 100 years old today.


In stark contrast to fermented grapes and grain, the intoxicating qualities of the cannabis sativa plant were unknown to Americans outside of a few Southwest border towns in 1911, according to Dale Gieringer of California NORML. Gieringer spent the better part of 10 years trying to find evidence of marijuana use among 19th-century American writers (local boy Jack London experimented with hash, but he is an exception).

"There is no record of any public concern over marijuana at this time," Gieringer told SF Weekly. "Only after cannabis was prohibited did it come into widespread popularity." Pot got plenty of attention in 1911 -- and thereafter when Massachusetts passed a law to ban "hypnotic drugs" such as opiates. "Marihuana" or "Indian hemp" was added to that list, despite its widespread anonymity as well as a clause in the Massachusetts ban that allowed drug stores to sell medicinal pot. That included the widely available tinctures used to alleviate migraines and menstrual cramps, according to Gieringer. Ironically, these antimarijuana laws fostered a new mystique around the drug, which began seeping into the mainstream in the 1920s; it was popularized by jazz musicians and other hip folk.
Since then, the record has been established: An international compact in 1961 supported the banning of cannabis, which the federal government did outright with the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. Pot use and arrests have increased steadily since; marijuana arrests in the United States have nearly tripled since 1990.
 
"Thirteen years was long enough for American policymakers to realize that alcohol prohibition was a failed experiment, so it's particularly obscene that marijuana prohibition has now been going on for a whole century in parts of the U.S.," said Tom Angell, a spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of former cops fighting to decriminalize pot. "Though it is encouraging to see more and more lawmakers -- both on the local and national level --  starting to call for an end to the madness."

There's more irony here. The fact is that the earliest antimarijuana laws were passed by pharmacy boards and progressive-era advocates of government regulation, Gieringer says.

There's a present-day parallel: California legislators and law-enforcement officials have toyed with the notion of banning Salvia divinorum, which is illegal in nine states.

"Cops said, 'We gotta get out ahead of this and stop it before it starts,'" Gieringer says, adding, "I was saying, 'Your record of being able to stop things is not very good."

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Midd2559
Midd2559

Free Market Hemp will be the deciding factor in the 2012 elections because we can deliver 5 percent of the vote to any candidate honest enough to support our righteous cause.The economic impact of free market hemp is industrial, the production of fuel, fiber, medicine and more from a resource that can be grown and processed in all the states, providing a cascading series of jobs and industry.Hemp production was the economic engine of the American Revolution and can be the CHANGE that marks the beginning of a new era, an era of sustainable food and fuel production, an end to dependence on foreign oil, an end to pollution, hemp fuel is carbon neutral. Most of all an end to the arbitrary and capricious hemp production. The young people of this country will lift you on the wings of this great moral eagle.Start quoting George Washington concerning hemp, "Plant It Everywhere".

Rottipwr
Rottipwr

hemp prohibition was instigated because it competed with the cotton industry ,

Bruno24
Bruno24

100 years of prohibition = 100 years of irrational fears, propaganda, mockery of statistics, mockery of logic, mockery of reason, mockery of health = 100 years of corporatist special interest, corruption, drug dealing, black markets developments, targetting of kids with uncontrollable products, biased competition with nature, etc.100 years of critics without proofs, and that is a symptom how grave it is. And this in almost all countries (with different application of the laws, though). It is time we come back to 1+1 = 2, for the benefice of every one.

Bong
Bong

When do you think it will be legalized?

rsteeb
rsteeb

The prohibition of Earth's most beneficial plant species is a crime against humanity. It shall NOT stand.

ZugPoo
ZugPoo

Whoa, pot is illegal? Tell me it aint so. I been blazing daily for 30+ years and I found out now its illegal? Oh well lol. www.real-privacy.eu.tc

Nambla Roger Young UAFortSmith
Nambla Roger Young UAFortSmith

kill anybody who tries to stop you, especially officials like cops, lawyers, judges, lobbyists, religious freaks and really anybody. Lets start a civil war!

NAMBLA Dan Maher UAFS
NAMBLA Dan Maher UAFS

Good to see NAMBLA is alive and well with the disabled services of UA Fort Smith (U-Fuss)

malcolmkyle
malcolmkyle

Prohibitionists often express the belief that the resulting, suffering, mayhem and corruption that their policy engenders is in no way connected to the basic and erroneous mechanism being used, but simply that they haven't been granted sufficient governmental powers (the removal of even more basic individual rights and freedoms) to do their work properly.

It's quite possible, that many of the early Prohibitionists did not intend to kill hundreds of thousands worldwide, or put 1 in 32 Americans under supervision of the correctional system with their ill-thought-out-actions. Nevertheless, it's now reasonably safe to claim, that our Latter-Day Sadomoralist Prison-for-Profit Prohibitionists don't care. They don't care that, historically, the prohibition of any mind altering substance has never succeeded. They don't care that America has the highest percentage of it's citizens incarcerated of any country in the history of the planet. They don't care about spawning far worse conditions than those they claim to be alleviating. These despotic imbeciles are actually quite happy to create as much mayhem as possible. After all, it's what fills their prisons and gets them elected.

malcolmkyle
malcolmkyle

Prohibitionists often express the belief that the resulting, suffering, mayhem and corruption that their policy engenders is in no way connected to the basic and erroneous mechanism being used, but simply that they haven't been granted sufficient governmental powers (the removal of even more basic individual rights and freedoms) to do their work properly.

It's quite possible, that many of the early Prohibitionists did not intend to kill hundreds of thousands worldwide, or put 1 in 32 Americans under supervision of the correctional system with their ill-thought-out-actions. Nevertheless, it's now reasonably safe to claim, that our Latter-Day Sadomoralist Prison-for-Profit Prohibitionists don't care. They don't care that, historically, the prohibition of any mind altering substance has never succeeded. They don't care that America has the highest percentage of it's citizens incarcerated of any country in the history of the planet. They don't care about spawning far worse conditions than those they claim to be alleviating. These despotic imbeciles are actually quite happy to create as much mayhem as possible. After all, it's what fills their prisons and gets them elected.

Here's what the UK Economist Magazine thinks of us: "Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little" http://www.economist.com/node/...

According to Paul Craig Roberts, a former editor of the Wall Street Journal and former assistant secretary to the treasury under Ronald Reagan, "Police in the US now rival criminals, and exceed terrorists as the greatest threat to the American public."http://www.newstatesman.com/no...

Charles Carmichael
Charles Carmichael

What is there to celebrate?

The *end* of prohibition. Let's end it in 2012, even if we have to elect a Republican.

dalemm
dalemm

The prohibition of marijuana has about as much logic as Governor Gregoire threatening to veto 5073. We here in Washington all know the federal government has no real intention to prosecute state employees because that would lead to basically civil war/secession. I don't understand how this argument has held up for 100 years. In the time since we started down the path to make marijuana illegal we have fought world wars and then forgiven the countries that started those wars, we have given guns to countries who later used them against us, and we have failed to create the worlds best healthcare system for what is supposed to be the worlds best country. Don't you think theres better arguments to have then marijuana? I mean we know prohibition doesn't work when the president has smoked marijuana. I just don't get why we don't get over this unlogical and frankly unconstitutional argument and legalize it so we can focus on more important things, like ending the war, providing better health care then you can find in cuba (isnt that sad, we don't trade with them even though we are the nearest major country yet they manage to have a better health care system then us), putting america back to work, supporting our college students because without them we will never be able to compete against Asia, etc etc etc. It seems like America is more concerned about "Oh was Obama really even born in the US?" which is trivial and really doesn't matter even if he wasnt (even though he obviously was born in the US, and also stupid republicans need to give up that whole middle name thing, its a very common middle name and really even if he is Muslim that would show how great we are because we are supposed to believe in freedom of religion) and start being concerned about the fact that the DEA is arresting cancer patients. As someone who runs a dispensary I know how legit this medicine is, anyone who tries to argue against it never has logic and even when they do I highly doubt there logic compares to our 22 lawyers....

Beardy
Beardy

you are correct, there are many fronts to fight on the war of righteousness. But fighting cannabis prohibition is just as important. think of all the youths who are arrested each year and are then punished for the rest of their lives for a non violent offense...ie...no federal grants for education, permanent records that follow them around here there n everywhere, etc...i happen to think that if we keep coming at the Feds from all angles, sooner or later their house of cards will fall.

Herbalist81
Herbalist81

I agree with you Beardy but I was convicted of felony PWISD marijuana in 2000, and have currently received several Pell grants and been in college for a year and a half with a free ride. The new law is your financial aid will be cut off IF you get convicted of ANY felony DRUG charge while CURRENTLY receiving financial aid, and you will be paying that grant back to the feds, sometime, someway. I was denied all fed grants in 2005 because of the felony drug charge, but the law has been altered since then and have got free rides for the past 3 semesters.

Littlelibra89
Littlelibra89

It was revised in 1933, which ment ALL states now banned it, which only makes today, 78 years. Massachusetts would be the only state with 100 years under its belt. I think you might want to change that misinformed title..

Chris Myers
Chris Myers

give him a break... the start of prohibition was the first prohibition law... which was 100 years ago.

If you think this is a gross factual inaccuracy; then may I draw your attention to every statement ever made by a US drug czar?!!?

Littlelibra89
Littlelibra89

the start of prohibition was inacted because of alcohol. not marijuana. so yes, in a round about way you are correct, prohibition has been around for 100 years. but marijuana, in total, meaning all 50 states, has only been prohibited for 78 years. which would mean his title "Marijuana Prohibition Turns 100 Today. What Is There to Celebrate?" is incorrect, mathematically speaking. just using constructive criticism.

your second comment really has no relevance to my previous comment. i dont follow what drug czars' 'statements' are. its not like theres a public broadcasting network to keep myself up to date.. im assuming because they are dengerantes, most of what they would say would be a inaccurate fact.

Pillamydofeternity
Pillamydofeternity

Cody Adams..... grapes will ferment within their skin and pot grows from the earth so just let it be and profit the proceeds.....

Jillian
Jillian

The DEA enforce the federal marijuana prohibition and the DEA is the *only* organization capable of removing marijuana from Schedule I of the CSA. The DEA also fights tooth and nail against every effort to legalize adult marijuana sales. And then they tell us that "they don't make the laws, they only enforce them". Nonsense! When it comes to marijuana, they not only enforce the law they do everything in their considerable power to keep the law exactly as it is, which is a clear conflict of interest!! We have no way of knowing whether they're fighting to protect society or their jobs!

We need legal adult marijuana sales in our supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales - to keep unscrupulous black-market criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana should be legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.

Chris Myers
Chris Myers

DEA is not the only way. copy/paste wiki:

Cannabis could be rescheduled either legislatively, through Congress, or through the executive branch. The Congress has so far rejected all bills to reschedule cannabis. However, it is not unheard of for the Congress to intervene in the drug scheduling process; in February 2000, for instance, the 105th Congress, in its second official session, passed Public Law 106-172, also known as the Hillory J. Farias and Samantha Reed Date-Rape Drug Prohibition Act of 2000,[12] adding GHB to Schedule I.[13] The Controlled Substances Act also provides for a rulemaking process by which the United States Attorney General can reschedule cannabis administratively. These proceedings represent the only means of legalizing medical cannabis without an act of any Congress. Rescheduling supporters have often cited the lengthy petition review process as a reason why cannabis is still illegal.[2] The first petition took 22 years to review, and the second took 7 years. In 2002, the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis filed a third petition.

Horborgl
Horborgl

It's also true that a drug cannot be placed in Schedule I if the Department of Health and Human Services recognizes that it has any medical value.

Chris Myers
Chris Myers

Follow the money... who drops millions yearly to lobby to keep this illegal and supports the partnership for a drug free america? American Brands (Jim Beam whiskey), Philip Morris (Marlboro and Virginia Slims cigarettes, Miller beer), Anheuser Busch (Budweiser, Michelob, Busch beer), R.J. Reynolds (Camel, Salem, Winston cigarettes), as well as pharmaceutical firms Bristol Meyers-Squibb, Merck & Company and Procter & Gamble. From 1997 it has discontinued any direct fiscal association with tobacco and alcohol suppliers, although it still receives donations from pharmaceutical companies. I am sure they still contribute, but now it's less obvious that it's them. Sneeky little bastards... I wonder what else "they" are doing right under our noses...

Decrapone
Decrapone

...they are doing whatever the hell they want, and what are you doing to do about it, little man?

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...