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In recent weeks, we have seen a shift in how drug war proponents are talking about marijuana. No longer able to convince the public that people who use marijuana should go to jail, they are singing a new tune; they should all go to treatment. This is a shift we have seen before. When marijuana first came on the scene in the U.S. in the early 1900s, reports of marijuana induced violence among Mexicans fueled the nation’s fear about the little known plant. When the general population started experimenting with the herb in the 1920s, it became clear that the claims of violence were fabricated. Losing the ability to instill fear in the public around marijuana use, the message was modified. The new message tied marijuana use to insanity and mental illness, which were highly stigmatized conditions, and continue to be. Being labeled as mentally ill frightened the white, middle class, marijuana consumers, and this fear led to the support of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937.
Fast forward to 2012. Public support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high and the government acknowledges that a change is being considered. No longer able to convince Americans that marijuana consumers are dangerous criminals who deserve to be locked up, history is repeating itself. We are seeing a shift in the message, from marijuana consumers as criminals to marijuana consumers as sick people who belong in treatment. It’s a propaganda shell game and we can’t fall for […Read More]