The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937
This tax act was the first federal law to criminalize cannabis all over the United States. It imposed excise tax on the possession, transfer, or sale of hemp products; thus, criminalizing the use of cannabis.
In October 1937, a farmer named Samuel Caldwell was arrested for selling cannabis. He was eventually prosecuted and sentenced to four years of tough labour.
The Philippines was the primary source of the United States for imported hemp fiber. When it was colonized by the Japanese, Americans had no choice but to cultivate industrial hemp domestically. The last hemp fields in the United States were planted in Wisconsin in 1957.
The War on Drugs
President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 into law as part of the country’s “war on drugs”. It revoked the Marijuana Tax Act and classified cannabis as a Schedule I drug with a huge risk for abuse and no medicinal usage.
In 1972, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse released a report that recommended lower penalties and partial prohibition for the possession of marijuana, provided that the amount was small enough. However, the president merely ignored it.
Provision for Medical Marijuana
In the 1970’s up to the 1980’s, people became interested again to use cannabis for medicine. After all, it has proven to be effective in providing relief to AIDS and cancer patients who had wasting syndrome and chemotherapy.
In 1996, California legalized medical marijuana. It became the first state to do this in defiance of the federal law. Then, in 2001, Canada was allowed to adopt the system for regulating cannabis for medicinal purposes.