The Historical Context of Drugs

The Historical Context of Drugs - Placing the Blame 1 The...

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Placing the Blame The Historical Context of Drugs: America Placing the Blame on Cultural Minorities By Richard Huntington During the early stages of American colonization around 1619, the Jamestown Colony in Virginia instituted the first law dealing with marijuana. The law contended the economic importance of the cannabis plant was enough to enforce mandated farming of hempseed. Between 1763 and 1767 a person could even be jailed for not growing hemp! In 1996 former Speaker Newt Gingrich proposed to introduce a mandatory death penalty for second time offenders convicted of smuggling 50 or more grams of marijuana onto American soil. (Jacobs, 2005) The opinions of marijuana obviously changed drastically over this 229 year period. How did this change take place? What is at the core of Mr. Gingrich’s no- tolerance attitude towards marijuana? His opinion is so emphatic and yet numerous countries have de-criminalized marijuana as well as other substances illicit in America. Should we legalize some illicit drugs and not others? When determining this question one must consider a drug’s history. More specifically; one must consider the factual reasons behind why certain drugs originally became illegal. As the Mexican Revolution of 1910 spilled over the boarder; many Mormons who resided on Mexican lands returned to America. Within the influx of Mormons many chose to reside in Utah (Hemp, 1990, p 35). Needless to say they were not welcomed 1
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Placing the Blame with open arms by the citizens of Salt Lake City. More specifically they were not welcomed by the church and its’ affiliates. The Mormons, who exhibited certain cultural aspects popular in Mexico at the time, became a target of state officials who were often influential members of the church. In 1915 the first state prohibition of marijuana took place in Utah. Other states soon followed but the justification of the hidden agenda no longer hindered with the Mormons. Now it was Mexican Americans who became the target. (Whitebread, 1995) At the core of hostile attitudes towards the Mexican Americans was the farming aspect of the west. The small farmers in Western America began feeling the competitive
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course PSYCH Drugs and taught by Professor Mc.nary during the Spring '08 term at University of Louisville.

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The Historical Context of Drugs - Placing the Blame 1 The...

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