Throughout history marijuana has been used to
serve various purposes in many different
cultures. The purposes have changed over time
to fit in with the current lifestyles.
This pattern is also true in American history.
The use of marijuana has adapted to the social
climate of the time.
Marijuana, whose scientific name is cannibis
sativa, was mentioned in historical manuscripts
as early as 2700 B. C. in China. (Grolier Electronic
Encyclopedia, 1995). The cultivation of the
marijuana plant began as far back as the
Jamestown settlers, around 1611, who used hemp
produced from the marijuana plant's fibers to make
rope and canvas. It was also used in making clothing
because of it's durability. These uses fit in with
the social climate of the time, because the main
focus was on survival rather than for psychoactive
During the prohibition, marijuana was widely
used because of the scarcity of alcohol. Prohibition
was repealed after just thirteen years while the prohibition
against marijuana lasted for more than seventy five years.
This double standard may have resulted from the wishes of
those in power. Alcohol prohibition struck directly at
tens of millions of Americans of all ages, including many of
societies most powerful members. Marijuana prohibition
threatened far fewer Americans, and they had relatively
little influence in the districts of power. Only the
prohibition of marijuana, which some sixty million
Americans have violated since 1965 has come close
to approximating the prohibition experience, but
marijuana smokers consist mostly of young and
relatively powerless Americans (American Heritage, pg 47).
Alcohol prohibition was repealed and
marijuana prohibition was retained, not because
scientists had proved that alcohol was the less dangerous
of the various psychoactive drugs, but because of the prejudices
and preferences of most Americans (American Heritage, pg 47).
In 1937 the government issued the...