Why Was Weed Made Illegal, Anyway? A Short History

Weed delivery and dispensaries are relatively new, but the history between humans and cannabis dates back thousands of years. After decades of prohibition and taboo, cannabis has finally returned to popular culture. 

As we rediscover its best uses and health benefits, many of us are left asking, “Why was weed made illegal in the first place?”

Why Was Weed Made Illegal?

Unfortunately, much of weed’s history in the United States is rooted in racism. Many Americans commonly used cannabis during the early 20th century, but the Mexican Revolution of 1910 introduced new strains, uses, and trends. Many Americans did not recognize “marijuana” as cannabis and created harmful stigmas and prejudices around those who used it.

When the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) criminalized cannabis in the 1930s, their comments made it clear their decision was based on extreme racial prejudices. Additionally, because the laws strategically said “marijuana” instead of “cannabis,” many Americans who favored the law didn’t understand what they were supporting. 

Outside of racism, other theories and possible explanations exist for why weed was made illegal. As with many unusual laws, various decision-makers may have been behind the prohibition. Some people at the time were concerned about health risks related to “marijuana,” though most disregarded previous cannabis studies. Other theories suggest the paper market may have been involved in demonizing hemp, though these have been mostly debunked. 

The Importance of Breaking Cannabis Stigmas

Cannabis’s history is complicated, but it paints a clear picture: misinformation is harmful. Even outside of legalization, weed stigmas have ruined lives and contributed to America’s mass incarceration problem

There are various ways to combat these issues, including donating to nonprofits and writing to legislators. However, one of the easiest things you can do is simply talk about weed. By learning more about cannabis, including its history, uses, and risks, we can help build a more informed public perspective. In doing so, we can debunk harmful myths, encourage safer use, and share its health benefits with those who may need it. 

History of Weed

While we have no record of when humans first “discovered” the hemp plant, the first documented use of cannabis traces back to 2800 BC. Emperor Shen Nung, known as “the father of Chinese medicine,” noted the plant’s healing properties and uses in his pharmaceutical book. Since then, cannabis use has appeared throughout world history with predominantly positive associations. 

As mentioned earlier, cannabis was seemingly used through much of early American history. Though it was criminalized in 1937 and officially outlawed in 1970, it has since been legalized and decriminalized in many states. It may be some time before cannabis is legalized federally. Nevertheless, clear progress has been made toward ending the prohibition and improving weed culture

Celebrate Weed’s Legalization With Harbor House Collective

The best way to combat weed stigmas and taboos is to talk about it more! At Harbor House Collective, we understand the impact of cannabis empowerment and education. Visit us in person or online to learn more. 

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