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The first significant instance of marijuana regulation appeared in the District of Columbia in 1906, though this law was not an outright prohibition. Regulation of cannabis followed in Massachusetts (1911), New York (1914), and Maine (1914). Simultaneously tensions were building in the western and southwestern states regarding the influx of Mexicans to America. Many Mexicans also smoked marijuana to relax after working in the fields. Later in that decade negative tensions grew between the small farms and the large farms that used cheaper Mexican labor. Shortly afterwards the Great Depression came which increased tensions as jobs and resources became more scarce. In 1913 California passed the first state marijuana prohibition law, criminalizing the preparation of hemp and its products, the phrase “Indian Hemp” (Cannabis indica) is sometimes used or “loco weed”. Other states followed with marijuana prohibition laws including: Wyoming (1915); Texas (1919); Iowa (1923); Nevada (1923); Oregon (1923); Washington (1923); Arkansas (1923); and Nebraska (1927).
All of the federal marijuana legislation may soon be “history” as Ron Paul and Barney Frank—surely Congress’ version of the Odd Couple—are set to introduce a bill today that would end once and for all the federal prohibition on marijuana, allowing states to legalize, tax, and regulate the drug. The bill would also “reprioritize federal resources” away from enforcing drug laws and fighting drug smuggling. The so-called War on Drugs has been an absolute disaster from both the enforcement and regulation end of the spectrum and nothing could serve this country more, and save billions and billions of dollars if this wasteful practice were finally ended.
According to Politico it’s the first time such legislation has ever been introduced in Congress, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. They’re touting the bill as “bipartisan legislation,” though Paul is the only Republican cosponsor—four other Democrats are onboard. The group doesn’t expect it to pass, but “it’s definitely going to get a serious debate,” a spokesman tells Reason, though “probably more in the media than on the floor of the House.”
What are your thoughts on this most controversial subject? Would you like to see marijuana regulation/enforcement left to the states?