We at Whidbey Island’s best marijuana boutique are fans of cannabis. That’s no secret. In fact, we’ve seen the use of marijuana result in some fairly extraordinary and positive things for our clients and customers. However, we know not everyone agrees with us about this amazing substance. So, we wanted to take a little time to discuss some of the many ways weed has gotten a bad rap beginning with a short history of criminalization and the state of legalization.

Cannabis has not always been illegal in America. In fact, it was often used in over the counter remedies right through the early 20th century. However, anti-Mexican immigrant prejudice, combined with the popularization of recreational marijuana by these same immigrants created a perfect storm for U.S. politicians to demonize both cannabis and stoke anti-immigrant fears and policies. Eventually, straight-up propaganda campaigns and films, such as “Reefer Madness,” caught cannabis dead to rights and it was effectively criminalized in 1937 by the Marijuana Tax Act.

Marijuana Revenue Stamp

Throughout the rest of the 20th century, cannabis was used as a stalking horse for several politicians. This includes Richard Nixon, who ordered the bipartisan Shafer Commission to evaluate and reconsider the laws surrounding marijuana. The commission suggested that the personal use of weed should be decriminalized. Nixon promptly rejected their recommendation and cannabis was categorized as a Schedule I narcotic in 1973.

Marijuana was cooked as a legal substance until 1996 when the vast range of scientific study on cannabis was finally heeded, and California legalized it for medical use. Several states quickly followed, and today legal medical marijuana has been adopted by twenty-nine states and Washington D.C. with eight states legalizing recreational use. Unfortunately, cannabis is still considered a Schedule I narcotic by the Federal government. Under the Obama administration, something called the “Cole Memo” prevented Federal authorities from spending money on interfering with state’s handling of cannabis legalization and usage. This memo still stands today. However, recent comments from current administration officials make it seem likely that legalization will be a flashpoint issue in the 2020 election.

The history of cannabis in the United States has been long, fraught, and full of obfuscation and–by certain people and organizations–outright lies. Knowledge of this history is so important when thinking through your personal cannabis use and when considering the larger political picture surrounding pot in Washington today. The propaganda and fearmongering of yesterday and yes, sadly, today, must be countered by a knowledge of this wonder herb’s history and by a better understanding of pot’s actual effects and uses. Tune in next time as we debunk some of the most common myths surrounding cannabis.

If you want to learn more about the history of pot in America, check out this article from the Foundation for Economic Education and this handy timeline through 1996 from PBS. To read more about the bizarre process by which weed became and stays a Schedule I narcotic, check out this column from the Washington Post or this article from Scientific American.

Or just stop on by Whidbey’s best marijuana boutique and strike up a conversation with one of our excellent budtenders to learn more about marijuana. Check out our menu and stop in soon! We look forward to seeing you.