Written By: Owen Rolo
In the 1930’s, the sale, distribution and possession of a millenia old medicinal plant, marijuana, was outlawed and categorized into a class 1 controlled substance. The same class as heroin and crack cocaine. Absolutely insane. It doesn’t make any sense how a perfectly harmless drug that has been used for thousands of years, dating all the way back to the Greeks, and has been legal in the United States since our very own founding fathers almost 200 years ago, could suddenly be made to be such a terrible drug on the 2nd of August, 1937.
It’s all because of a man named Harry J. Anslinger, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. His funding was about to be cut, and with no new narcotics coming into play, his back was against the wall. His brainstorming led to a very hot topic of the 1930s, Mexicans. White people feared Mexicans and saw them in somewhat of a different light than black people because their skin was lighter. White people saw Mexicans as beneath them, yet they feared Mexicans still had the power to harm them.
Anslinger connected smoking marijuana to Mexicans and started a racially invoked campaign saying when Mexicans smoked, it made them insane, crazed and gave them a want to hurt white people. Surprisingly (and at the same time unsurprisingly, considering the country, and especially the time period) the campaign succeeded; White people all across America, including politicians, were stricken with fear, a worsened fear of Mexicans and a newly founded fear of Marijuana. This was the sole reason Marijuana was outlawed federally under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The law was not changed or appealed in any way until Congress officially repealed it in 1970 and re-enforced it within the Controlled Substance Act. More or less, marijuana was made illegal for no scientific reason, but was a racist scheme to get more funding for the narcotics department based off of complete tall tales.
Now as our world is learning more and has actual scientific proof that says not only that THC is safe, but also has health benefits. 33 states in total, in 2019, currently have created some sort of broad medical marijuana law that makes it legal for THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana) to be sold and consumed by the public for medical purposes only.
However, the process to obtain medical marijuana is unnecessarily hard. The first step is to go to a medical marijuana specialist. They have to be specialists because if your normal doctor was to have anything to do with getting you medical marijuana, they could lose their medical license. Not to offend the medical “specialists” but they are often quacks, or doctors that have been retired for years and come back because it’s easy. Nonetheless, there are some reliable institutions to get your medical card from, they are just few and far between. In some clinics you never even meet with a doctor in person, you skype with him or her. Your normal physician can’t prescribe you marijuana just like every other drug that’s used for medical purposes, let alone give you your medical card, all because of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, that is still the major contributing factor to why marijuana is still federally illegal.
Marijuana being federally illegal makes it illegal for your normal doctor to prescribe. Even if it has been legalized in your state, you must see a “specialist” who has a special license for it in your state alone. This may not seem like too much of a hassle or issue to those who don’t use marijuana for medical purposes, but it is. Marijuana is used the same way as an antidepressant for some people, or an anti inflammatory for others, both of which are covered by almost every health care provider in 2019. Yet, because marijuana is still classified as a controlled substance it isn’t prescribed through normal doctors, but rather through a medical card and dispensaries, so health care providers can’t pay for any part or percentage of the bill. Plus, its insanely expensive when you’re also charged a tax.
For a drug with a harmless history, and the science to back it up, to still be illegal and a felony in some states and on a federal level, is ridiculous. There are so many reasons to make this medicinal plant legal again, put money into making it safe and free to the public, or at least at a smaller cost. Many doctors believe THC has even more benefits to cancer than just relieving nausea and that it could possibly even help cure some forms of cancers one day. America needs to change their useless laws and fix what a racist campaign created.