The War on Drugs, Part 1 The Beginning Marijuana Laws

Society and addiction: The War on Drugs Part One

Professor Joshua Kane, Ph.D. – the head of research at A Better Today Recovery Services and lecturer at Arizona State University – sat down with Detox to Rehab to discuss The War on Drugs.

In this six-part series Kane will discuss how we got to the place where prisons are the preferred solution for drug abuse rather than treatment, the roots it has in racist oppression, and how culture is stronger than law.

Townships in the 1800s

As far back as the 1800s The War on Drugs has been used to control people and culture. For example, in the South West, Marijuana was used to take arable land from the Mexicans that were farming it.

Marijuana grew in North America, like a weed, and was a big part of Mexican Culture, but it wasn’t the same for the Europeans.

“In Europe Marijuana was not known and didn’t grow there naturally. So Marijuana was never a part of their culture,” Kane explains, “As European Americans moved into the South West and sought to take those lands for themselves and away from Mexicans, Marijuana became a tool.”

Kane gives the example of the early township of San Antonio, once the township was established the European settlers would use Marijuana laws to take the land that they wanted.

“It was the wild wild west … there were no courts, there was nobody to stop them,” he said, “They would see a plantation or a fertile area that they wanted and of course the Mexicans would be on that land owning it and farming it, the San Antonio Township would expand its ‘borders’ onto that plantation.”

Since Marijuana was illegal in the township that meant now the farmers who smoked it could be arrested and the land could be taken.

“Marijuana smoking was common in these areas, so the San Antonio board members, with guns, would wait for … Mexicans smoking Marijuana on the land that they wanted, when they found it they would arrest the Mexican and either take him to jail, or more often, throw him on a wagon and leave him south of the Rio Grande.”

With the landowner no longer there the Europeans could then take ownership of the land.

“In the South West, laws that were supposedly meant to constrain Marijuana smoking became tools to constrain Mexicans and take land from them, and eventually from Mexico entirely.”

…continue on to The War on Drugs, Part 2 – Making Drugs Illegal

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