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America's First Ban on Marijuana


The Criminalization of Marijuana in America

Where did America go wrong with our policies regarding the use of marijuana? What driving forces are responsible for the stigmatization surrounding and policies forbidding the use of an herb that grows naturally from the earth's soil and can be utilized in so many ways that are beneficial to our health, our economy and, in turn, our society and the very world we reside in?

The Bill that Banned Marijuana

Surprisingly the origins are not as difficult as one might think to trace back. The first blow came with the 1937 Marijuana Act pushed forward by Harry J. Anslinger, the first ever to fill the position of Commissioner of the Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics. At the time that he 1937 Marijuana Bill was passed, Anslinger was in office for seven years.

However the exact details leading up to the bill that banned marijuana in 1937 become quite complex and, as many living today can testify, the consequences following from the ban have lead to highly contended political and moral questions. Here, however, we will only focus strictly on the The Bill led that to America's first ban on marijuana and its direct consequences. The bill that banned marijuana is The 1937 Marijuana Act, originally spelled the 1937 "Marihuana" Act but later revised in most areas (yet in order to to remain consistent with previous laws it is still spelled 'Marihuana' in some congressional bills today, for instance, HR 3037, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005).

Anslinger's 1937 Marijuana Act did not succeed in making distributing, buying or using marijuana a criminal offense (the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act would accomplish that task). However, by installing outrageous penalties, up to $2000 fines and five years in prison, The Bill did succeed in indirectly prohibiting marijuana at the federal level. It simply became to risky to buy, sell or use marijuana. The 1937 Marijuana Act was one of the most influential
events that contributed the the criminalization of marijuana, that we see unraveling today.

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