Marijuana Prohibition is officially an Octogenarian… but will it live much longer?

Yesterday, the United States had a monumental anniversary that you probably didn’t know about…

 Despite how it has affected every member of our society for almost 100 years. 

The 80th Anniversary of Marijuana Prohibition

August 2nd, 2017, was the 80th anniversary of the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 – the first federal legislation in the United States that restricted the cultivation, distribution, and possession of the Cannabis plant; a.k.a. Marijuana.

Signed into law on August, 2nd 1937, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, despite complete opposition by the American Medical Association, the Marihuana Tax Act paved the way for all prohibition laws surrounding Marijuana and the Cannabis plant currently in effect in our society today. Local, National and International.

Historical records exposing Harry J. Anslinger’s hidden agenda in his quest to pass the Marihuana Tax Act as part of a larger campaign on Narcotics are very accessible to anyone with Internet and a search engine; and quite the incriminating evidence to 80 years of deception in American History.

Anyone paying attention can connect the dots, and see Anslinger’s use of racist and inaccurate “Reefer Madness” propaganda to terrorize the American public into supporting the prohibition of a very commonly used medicine and household product – then refered to as Cannabis Indica or Indian Hemp – not the slang word, Marihuana, used in Anslinger’s racist agenda because of it’s Mexican ties. 

Through the implementation of a heavy tax stamp on Cannabis products ($1.00 per ounce for registered producers in 1937, the equivelent of approximately $30 per ounce today) and threat of incarceration and prosecution, Anslinger effectively began the prohibition of Marijuana in the United States through the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act.

Anslinger didn’t wait long before pursuing enforcement of his new law. 

He didn’t even wait until it was signed. 

The United States began persecuting Marijuana users the day BEFORE President Roosevelt signed the Marihuana Tax Act into law. 

The law was officially ratified by Congress, and signed by the President, on Monday, August 2nd, 1937; but the first arrest was made in the early morning hours of Sunday, August 1st.

Moses Baca and Samuel Caldwell were the first citizens arrested and prosecuted for the sale and simple possession of Marijuana. 

Baca was arrested first, on Aug. 1st, for possession of 1/4 ounce Marijuana.  Then, on Aug. 2nd, Caldwell, was arrested for the intent to sell approximately 3-4lbs of Marijuana. 
Coincidentally, they were arrested by the FBI and local police in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize Marijuana in 2012.

The two arrests were not connected, but their stories remain connected through their noteriety as the first Cannabis POWs.

Combined, Baca and Caldwell served a total of 5 1/2 years of hard labor in federal prison work camps, (Caldwell getting the majority of the time) for the sale and possession of Marijuana without the tax stamp.

Whether Caldwell and Baca had prior knowledge of the pending law, or its passage, will forever remain a mystery.

Understanding of their professions and skill set (farmer/laborer) and societal status (career criminals), in non-technologically advanced 1937, combined with logical speculation, suggests that it is highly unlikely either man had access to such political knowledge. The speedy and unlimited access we have to global current events,  and political/legal information, just didn’t exist at the time. 

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was Unconstitutional

Through an appeal by Dr. Timothy Leary in 1969, the United States Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional because such a requirement forces self incrimination, a violation of the 5th amendment, in the possession of a substance now considered illegal. 

Depsite the ruling, and subsequent redaction of the law, Anslinger’s agenda through the 80 year old legislation, and following 32 years of efforts to further prohibition, have been seen and felt by our society for almost a century.

The Nixon Administration’s response to the Supreme Court ruling on Dr. Leary’s appeal was the Controlled Substances Act of 1970; which lists Marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, along side drugs like Heroin – said to have no medical value and considered extremely addictive and dangerous. 

Testimony to this schedule for Marijuana did not include any actual scientific evidence to support such a placement. Only the lack of understanding of the drug, and the fears already perpetuated by Anslinger’s Reefer Madness Smear Campaigns, were provided to Congress in support of the scheduling.

Regardless of the overwhelming amount of science and history that have disproven these illogical fears, a good majority of the local laws in this country, including Idaho’s, still reflect this lack of understanding of Marijuana as drug and the fear of what we’ve all been wrongly informed it might do. 

Marijuana is not dangerous, with ZERO reported deaths from toxicity in the entire history of mankind’s use of the plant. 

Marijuana has been proven to be less addictive and less harmful than the already legal caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and pharmecuticals readily available in our communities. 

And it definitely does not cause violence or murderous rages as alleged by Anslinger. 

It has also been proven through science,  from around the globe, that compounds found in Marijuana can be extremely medicinal. There are more medical studies done on Cannabis than on the FDA approved pharmecuticals available through any licensed medical physician

The United States government owns the patent on numerous medical properties of Cannabis, and also continues to produce and supply medicicinal marijuana to several patients through the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program. 

Yet, Huffington Post reports “an American citizen is arrested every 51 seconds for Marijuana” and the Washington Post reports “police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 88% of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests in this country are for simple possession. 

Those 7.2 million people being persecuted under outdated laws, based on absurd claims, are our children. And our parents. Our brothers and our sisters. And our neighbors and friends. Many of which are illegally using Marijuana for the medicinal benefits in an effort to have a better quality of life.

Mandatory minimum sentencing standards, championed by Anslinger worldwide during his career, are also still in effect. Overcrowded prisons, filled with nonviolent offenders, serving a minimum of 2 years, or more, for marijuana crimes, continue to drain on every State’s budget. Some 3 strike laws can even carry a life sentence for Marijuana convictions. 

All thanks to Anslinger’s hard work as our first Drug Czar.

His idea of a Marijuana tax stamp is still required through most States, including the Idaho’s passage of it’s own Drug Tax Stamp laws.

Luckily for our future, Anslinger’s fear mongering affect on our society is very blatantly wearing thin. Marijuana Prohibition cannot survive much longer. 

Especially if YOU get involved!

The support of legalization has been increasing in Idaho for quite awhile now.

In 2011, Boise State University released the results of a public policy survey conducted by Boise based, Clearwater Research. It is the most recent, scientically conducted poll on the subject in Idaho.

The conclusion of the survey was that 74% of Idahoans were in support of legalizing medical marijuana for their terminally ill and chronically sick neighbors. 

Imagine what that number is today – 8 recreationally legal states29 medically legal states, and 6 years, later.

Just yesterday, in perfect coincidental coordination with Marijuana Prohibition’s anniversary, KIVI Channel 6 posted an article on Facebook about legislation that has been introduced by Senator Cory Booker that could potentially legalize Marijuana on a federal level. 

To a Marijuana advocate, this is a good thing, should it pass, for many reasons; including the beginning of the end to a harmful Drug War that incarcerates billions of people on the tax payer’s dime. But also because Idaho drug warriors would no longer be able to hide behind their argument that Marijuana is federally illegal and should remain illegal locally because of that reason. This has always been their go-to argument anytime they are proven incorrect about Marijuana not having medical benefits and wrongly perceived dangers to society and children.

As part of of their post, KIVI included a meme poll, requesting “likes” for legalization and “angry reactions” for continued prohibition. 

While obviously not as reliable as the BSU survey conducted through a professional research company, the current result of KIVI’s poll plainly speaks for itself.

As of the publication of this article, the numbers on the Facebook poll shows 5.1k “likes” in support of Marijuana Legalization, 91% of the 5.6k responses. 

Only 391 angry faces were among the other reactions.

Hidden in over 1,000 comments, are just a few negative responses littered among a majority of feedback being in favor of Federal and Local Legalization. 

KIVI Channel 6’s impromptu poll and responses speak volumes for their social media following’s awareness of the benefits of this usually misunderstood drug. 

Good job, Idaho!

Now, if we could just get that kind of percentage of the Idaho population to register to vote and participate in Idaho’s petition efforts. 

We could finally bring Cannabis freedom to our home state and compassion to our neighbors!

Will you help end Marijuana Prohibition in Idaho? Get involved TODAY!

Idaho Marijuana Reform Groups:

Green Majority 

New Approach Idaho

Idaho Moms for Marijuana

Compassionate Idaho

Boise Hempfest

Idaho Medical Marijuana Association