Medical Cannabis and Racist Prohibition Laws

Today, 29 states and Washington D.C. have legal medical marijuana programs, but the history of medical cannabis is long, and fraught with political intervention that oftentimes seemed to disregard the legitimate needs of people suffering from chronic conditions.

For millennia, the herb was used to treat a host of ailments including asthma, nausea, and depression. As early as 2900 BCE, the Chinese Emperor referenced it as a popular medicine that “possessed both yin and yang,” and in 1652, British herbalist Nicholas Culpeper wrote that hemp extract “allayeth Inflammations in the Head … eases the pains of the Gout … Knots in the Joynts, [and] the pains of the Sinews and Hips.”

Throughout the 19th century, cannabis was commonly used as medicine (usually as an extract), but in the midst of prohibitionist frenzy, Massachusetts became the first state to outlaw the herb in 1911. Other states followed suit, until, in 1930, the use of cannabis as medicine was dealt a crushing blow when Congress established the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and named Harry J. Anslinger as its first commissioner. Anslinger had what would today be characterized as a horribly racist attitude toward cannabis and its users.

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S.,” Anslinger said, “and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”. He added, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” Wow, what a guy.

By the mid-1930s, all 48 states had passed laws designed to regulate marijuana, and in 1937, the federal government passed the Marijuana Tax Act which aimed to stop all use and sale of cannabis by requiring registration with the government and heavy taxation.

It wasn’t until six decades later that, in 1996, California became the first state to buck the trend and legalize medical marijuana. In the ensuing 20 years, American citizens have pushed back against regulations that many see to be foolish at best, and racist at worst.

At The Green Solution, we know that cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for a number of chronic ailments, and we don’t think a person’s physical location should hinder her ability to acquire the medicine she needs. That’s why we welcome medical cardholders from all 29 states (and D.C.) with existing medical marijuana programs and offer them a 15% discount every day, at all of our retail locations (must be 21 or older with a valid ID and a valid state-issued medical cannabis card).