Smoking Out Our Roots

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Smoking Out Our Roots

Austin McGuff, Editor

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Cannabis was a prevalent crop in the early United States, until the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which declared it a harmful and illegal substance. Marijuana prohibition, in the U.S., has always been an outlet for racial discrimination. While it was claimed to be a harmful and deadly substance, a report from drugs.com shows it was later revealed to be a front for detaining and deporting immigrants. People against the legalization of marijuana argue that things have changed since so much time has passed, but according to a study by the American Civil Liberties Union, from 2001 to 2010, white people were 8 percent more likely to use marijuana, yet people of color were four times more likely to be arrested for it.

 

Marijuana has been considered a Schedule I drug since the 1970’s, originally placed on the list by former President Richard Nixon. Drugs.com shows that being a Schedule 1 puts Marijuana on the same level as ecstasy, bath salts, LSD, heroin, and MDMA. Putting these hard drugs that cause tens of thousands of deaths per year next to a drug rooted, metaphorically and physically, in U.S. agricultural history that has caused fewer than 200 deaths in the past 20 years seems extremely misinformed – and it is. According to a CNN interview with John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s former domestic policy chief, the White House wanted to criminalize marijuana to make African American communities look worse in the public’s eye. If they were to admit their true reasoning, they would have been violating the U.S. Constitution. Nixon intentionally wanted to marginalize African Americans to increase the power of his party.

 

Legalizing cannabis in the US has needed to happen for a very long time. With the legalization of cannabis, the American Civil Liberties Union says the US would save $3.61 billion dollars on enforcing marijuana laws, provide an obvious economic boost to agriculture in the U.S., and reduce blatant racial discrimination. On August 1st of 2017, African American Democratic Senator of New Jersey, Cory Booker, wrote up and proposed the Marijuana Justice Act. It would amend the Controlled Substances Act, removing marijuana from the Schedule 1 drug list. In addition it would also eliminate all criminal penalties on individuals who were or are involved in marijuana trade, and reduce federal funding for states who refuse legislation.

 

When will this happen? There is no huge motion in Congress presently, but with President Trump claiming to be a representative of the people, and polls from rollcall.com showing Republican voters are beginning to lean towards legalization, a surprise could take place under a primarily Republican government very soon.

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