The Social Construction of Drugs
Marijuana arrived in the United States in 1912 with the migration of Mexicans looking for work. Mexicans used marijuana to help them relax after a long day. Middle class individuals did not like the workers. In response a rumor began that this plant gave the Mexicans super human strength, and caused them to become murderers. This was the beginning of the many “truths” about Marijuana and its effects on people. The initial purpose for the illegalization of marijuana was a tactic used by the government and the middle class to rid the United States of the Mexican race. The El Paso Ordinance of 1914 was the first piece of legislation put into place to restrict the use and possession of marijuana. The government enabled the treasury department to become responsible for the war on drugs. Harry J Anslinger became the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Anslinger began a tireless revolt against marijuana and devoted himself to the annihilation of the drug altogether.
Harry Anslinger decided to use the media to “educate” the public of his personal opinion of the substance. Anslinger portrayed marijuana to the public as though it was the black plague. His scare tactic included convincing the public that marijuana would cause an individual to become insane, have nightmares, commit murder and rape, and become heroine addicts. He also attempted to persuade the public that marijuana would be the destruction of our youth, and cause death. Throughout this persistent campaign against marijuana, the public and voters became fearful and wanted some sort of laws in place to protect them.
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made marijuana illegal and created a new group of criminals. Thousands were arrested for the possession of marijuana, which began to overrun the jails and prisons. Samuel R Cardwell was the first man convicted under this new legislation and sentenced to four years of hard labor. Anslinger then began to have full...
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