Why Is a Revelation Made 20 Years Ago Just Now Gaining Traction?
As more states continue to legalize marijuana, whether medically, recreationally, or both, the stigma around the drug still pervades the American conscious.
In order to understand that, as well as the stigma around drug abuse in general, we need to look backwards to the times in our nation’s history when society was made to collectively feel a certain way about drugs, alcohol, or other “threats” to our way of life.
When it comes down to which drugs are legal and which drugs are not, our stigmas stem only partially from the drugs themselves, having been heavily influenced by what we associate with them: where they come from, who sells them, at what point in US history they became prevalent.
Alcoholism was rampant in America when Prohibition came into effect, and afterwards both alcohol related deaths and the social stigma around alcoholism declined. When the US Government turned its head towards drugs in the 1960s, was it really the public health they were looking to protect?
This Nixon aide says it was all based in race.
Though some cities and counties had been cracking down on certain drugs since the 1800s, America’s “War on Drugs” began in the 1960s.
One of the first major pieces of legislation against psychoactive drugs was San Francisco’s anti-opium law of 1875. This and similar legislation were directed at Chinese immigrants.
Other race-targeted drug laws include the South’s anti-cocaine laws in the early 1900s (against blacks) and the Midwest/ Southwest’s anti-marijuana laws in the 1910s and 1920s (against Mexican and Latino immigrants).
Critics today allege that these communities are still the disproportionate victims of drug enforcement and sentencing.
In June 1971, Nixon and his administration declared a war on drugs by increasing federal drug control agencies and making marijuana a Schedule I drug, where it remains to this day.
Schedule I drugs are considered the most addictive with the highest potential for abuse and with no medical usages.