Marijuana and Alcohol
Both taken in order to produce a change in one's bodily functions, alcohol and marijuana differ mainly in the way society views the drugs based on historical misconceptions.
In the early days of the United States, most Americans had not been exposed to marijuana. It wasn't until the Mexican migrant workers introduced the drug into mainstream society that the American culture got a glimpse of the narcotic. Alcohol, however, had been brought to America by the widely accepted European culture and been passed down as a sort of tradition.
Driven by social stereotypes and supported by alcohol companies, the illegalization of marijuana occurred in the 1930's. At that time, Americans were at the height of an ethnic prejudice against the lower-class Mexicans. Naturally, Americans would be opposed to any deviance found in migrants' behavior. Marijuana was a definite deviance. As the youth culture began to pick up this drug use as a trend, their parents became extremely concerned.
Feeding off their fear, the government issued such propaganda as the movie Refer Madness. In the film, the makers falsified the effects of the drug, linking it to death, insanity, and moral degradation. Parents and society naturally responded. They were unaware, of course, of the false nature of the claims, and the push of illegalization by alcohol companies. One might ask himself why the alcohol companies (which capitalize on drug use) would be opposed to a drug; the answer lies therein. Unwilling to compete with another social lubricant, they invested in the downfall of marijuana. Their investment paid off as the drug has been illegal for nearly eighty years.
Although Americans are now more aware of the true affects of the drug, a stigma remains. Society is able to see past factors such as the addiction, poisoning, and...