Well, first, thanks for your comment! I do agree with most everything you’ve stated. But, my interest in the issue is both a personal and professional matter. I have smoked it and actually prefer it over alcohol. It wasn’t until 2002 that I took a deeper understanding of the whole issue with my interests in marijuana being illegal, primarily because of a quote I happened to run across from Harry Anslinger who was the director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now the DEA) which essentially demonized Filipinos and blacks who smoked marijuana:
“Marijuana is the most violence causing drug in the history of mankind. Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana usage.”
I’m not one who is easily offended but that struck a nerve because my mom’s Filipino, my dad’s black, and under the influence of marijuana, I NEVER had any violent tendencies. In fact, what I felt was the exact opposite. This only helped to spark my curiosity as to why it was made illegal in the first place with a claim, to me, that failed to hold any truth to it.
From that point on, I later discovered there was more to this issue which rolls into my professional Industrial Design background. Hemp, a cousin to the more popular cannabis plant, also has a long history with industrial applications. Around the time hemp and marijuana were made illegal, in 1937, the petrochemical industry was beginning to prosper and companies like DuPont and General Motors were looking to partner and capitalize on it. Hemp, which is relatively easy to grow, did pose a threat, and was a fundamental ingredient to Henry Ford’s agenda of manufacturing cars made from plant-based resources.
Another industry it seemed was also threatened by hemp and it was one largely controlled by a media conglomerate, William Randolph Hearst, who owned acres of timber farm specifically for his newspaper companies.
“Hearst was a notorious xenophobe. He reportedly hated minorities, and he used his chain of newspapers to aggravate racial tensions at every opportunity. He especially hated Mexicans, portraying them as lazy, degenerate, and violent, and as marijuana smokers and job stealers. However, the real motive behind this prejudice may well have been that Hearst had lost 800,000 acres of prime timberland to the rebel Pancho Villa, suggesting that Hearst’s racism was fueled by Mexican threats to his empire’s source of newsprint.”
Looking back, it was relatively easy to put blame on non-whites for many of society’s problems. One only has to see what happened to loyal Japanese-American citizens during World War II: http://www.sfmuseum.org/war/evactxt.html
Marijuana was made illegal at a time when the world, it seemed, wanted to get rid of anything which was not white: Japanese, Jews, blacks, Filipinos, etc. And it was the perfect storm for certain industries to take advantage of this opportunity by placing that blame on marijuana as a root cause for negative behavior and was still a plant most people hadn’t even heard of.
So, no I don’t think making marijuana legal everywhere would make society better, but we cannot continue to support marijuana and hemp being illegal when it was made illegal for all the wrong reasons over 70 years ago.
It’s a law which, at its very core, is fundamentally wrong even if you, yourself, have never ingested it. If you did, you are still 100% more likely to survive its ingestion than if you had ingested a gallon of home-brewed beer in one sitting.
What I do hope to see change though is that we could use hemp as a renewable source of energy by growing our own oil and people could grow their own medicine either themselves or in a co-op scenario.
Lastly, the police won’t be necessary to raid people’s homes and incarcerating them for possessing a non-lethal plant.