Cannabis Time Capsule, 1914: Talks of Prohibition and Shades of Bigotry
This article from the May 1914 Summit County Journal gives a good idea of the official national temperament toward drugs at the time with a summary of the 1914 Harrison Narcotic Tax Act.
But it's the accompanying cartoon that tells the real story.
A refresher: The Harrison Narcotic Tax Act was the federal law that -- for the first time in the country's history -- regulated drugs like opiates and cocaine. But interestingly, the law didn't include marijuana despite a growing movement at the time out West to discredit the plant.
The feds didn't end up making pot illegal until 1937, but Colorado and states like Wyoming, Utah and Nevada had laws against the cultivation, use and sales of pot by 1917.
Instead, we've selected this article because it highlights our ongoing theme of racism's role in demonizing marijuana (and drug use in general) by equating it with dark, sinister minorities.
See that black, borderline-racist Sambo-looking demon devil on the left in the cartoon accompanying the article? That's drugs. The old white Republican-looking guy with the gun and the sword? That's Uncle "Law and Order" Sam chasing drugs down to kill it.
Thank goodness the war on drugs the Harrison Narcotic Tax Act kicked off eventually ended all that.
Oh, wait. No, it didn't.
In case you haven't noticed, parts of our society are still trying to vilify cannabis users by depicting the substance as something crazy, wild-eyed minorities use that should be stamped out at all costs.
And it is an approach that is still failing miserably, 100 years later.
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