The Illegalization of Marijuana

With the use of marijuana becoming legal in some states, many people are wondering why it was ever in the category of drugs considered most dangerous? Cannabis had been used medicinally for thousands of years before it ever became illegal. And even with all the evidence of medical benefits, the government denied these benefits and made the use of the drug illegal.


Marijuana was introduced to the US through Mexico in the early 1900s where they used cannabis for medicine and relaxation. During this time, there were a lot of immigrants coming from Mexico, right after the Mexican revolution. The media began portraying these immigrants as “disruptive” and claimed that their behavior was dangerous, even their use of marijuana. People in the US didn’t realize that they already were using the drug medicinally, due to the fact that they referred to the drug as “cannabis” rather than “marijuana”.


The outlaw of marijuana was believed to be an excuse to deport Mexican immigrants, similar to what happened with Chinese immigrants with their use of opiums years earlier. This method of controlling immigrants proved to be extremely effective.

In the 1930s, there were claims that the drug could cause men of color to become violent towards white women. This claim, without proper evidence, caused the ban of marijuana usage and sales.


California became the first state to legalize the use of medical marijuana in 1996. Although there are claims that there is no evidence that cannabis helps in medicine, the fact that the drug has been used for 5000 years effectively shows otherwise.


Initially, the drug became illegal because of ignorance, racism, and fear. Though less evident today, these issues still play a role in marijuana laws.