The Roots of Marijuana Law in the US:
The Marijuana Tax Act was introduced in 1937. It required sellers to obtain a license. Blanket prohibition was not the intention. Harry Anslinger (Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner) testified in hearings on the subject that the hemp plant needed to be banned because it had a violent “effect on the degenerate races.” This specifically referred to Mexican immigrants who had entered the country, seeking jobs during the Great Depression.
The law passed quickly and with little debate. The American Medical Association (AMA) protested the law soon after, both on the grounds of actual disagreement with the law and the supporter’s lies on the subject, claiming the AMA had vocalized support when, in fact, the opposite was true.
There was some legal wrangling over the issue after it was passed. The people who were allowed to issue the licenses did not do so, effectively banning the drugs. The judicial system did not accept, at first, that being arrested in possession of drugs was a tax violation because it must have come from an unlicensed source (because there were no licenses), thereby avoiding taxes. Thus, the federal government did have the right to regulate the ingestion of drugs.
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