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Americans recognizing futility of prohibition, dude

By Matt Brown
On April 15, 2014

For the first time in our country’s history, a majority of the population favors the legalization of cannabis. According to a Gallup poll, 58 percent of Americans say the drug should be legalized. This is not the first time cannabis has been discussed in legislation. In 1619, the first cannabis law was passed in the United States, what was then the colony of Virginia. All farmers were mandated to set aside an acre of their farmland for the cultivation of hemp.

It wasn’t until the late 20th century, combined with the rise of “yellow journalism,” that another piece of legislation was passed, the Marijuana Tax Act, which prohibited all hemp production and cannabis-based medicines. Headlines described minority groups like blacks and Hispanics becoming “frenzied beasts” after smoking, committing heinous crimes like “laughing at a white man,” or even “stepping on a white man’s shadow.”

Disgustingly, not much has changed in the extent to target minority groups for an association with cannabis. However, a recent comprehensive study by the ACLU has shown that consumption of cannabis is used at similar rates by whites and blacks. Comparing arrest rates from 2010 shows that the arrest rate for black people in possession of cannabis was 716 per 100,000 versus the arrest rate for white people at 192 per 100,000. In other words, a black person was and is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possession of cannabis. This is not a war on cannabis; the evidence points to institutionalized racial profiling.

Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder revealed that the Obama administration is willing to work with Congress to reschedule cannabis, which is currently a Schedule I narcotic next to hard drugs like heroin. The latest attempt to reschedule was rejected by the DEA in 2011 and upheld in 2013. The court ruled that there was a lack of “valid” scientific research to reschedule the plant.

The catch-22 here is that for a drug to be defined as Schedule I, the substance has to have no currently accepted medical use for treatment in the United States. This is especially confusing when our own state of Michigan recognized, voted and passed legislation revolving around the medicinal use of cannabis. With the success this past year in Colorado and Washington, it seems that Americans’ tolerance and acceptance of cannabis has increased. We are aware of the convoluted past that cannabis, and its users, has endured. We are aware of the medicinal uses of cannabis historically, and now. With genuine knowledge and interest in the drug this high, the campaign of cognitive dissonance and intolerance is cashed.

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