The War on Marijuana in the United States: Part 1 – The Road to Prohibition (1860 – 1919)

In 1971, Richard Nixon declared his infamous ‘War on Drugs’ in the United States. He pledged to launch a nationwide anti-drug campaign based on “…eradication, interdiction, and incarceration” – in other words, eradicating the presence of illicit drugs in the USA and putting anyone associated with the sale, distribution, and/or possession of drugs behind bars.

Key Points

  • Political concerns about marijuana have existed since as early as the 1860s
  • “Hashish dens” dominated the U.S. east coast in the 1880s
  • Literary reports on weed changed from whimsical to fearful by the early 1900s
  • The American media used Mexican immigrants in the early 20th century as scapegoats to highlight marijuana’s “deadly” effects
  • Restrictions on marijuana quickly escalated between 1911 and 1918

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