Tobacco smoking has been a tradition accepted across the world. The same cannot be said for marijuana. In as much as the recent times have witnessed the wave of marijuana legalization, there is more to the banning of the drug in the United States with the racial undertones marking the move as opposed to the health concerns of the drug. Essentially, the federal government ended up disadvantaging marijuana while providing a free hand to the cigarette industry for financial gains as well as due to the racial motivations of the time. Instead of creating the law that would outline how marijuana should be taken, the government ended up abolishing the drug out rightly.
Controlled Substance Act was the brain child of President Nixon. The president was an activist who pushed for the placement of marijuana in Schedule 1 which houses the most notorious drugs in circulation. This can be perceived to have been a mistake of the time. However, the president’s convictions at the time indicated otherwise with his aides leaking information that the placement of marijuana was driven by a different agenda all together.
Racial motivations behind the placement in the schedule can be traced to the president’s perception of the most ardent users of marijuana in the United States. The drug was used mainly by the hippies and African Americans. It has been proven through oval office tapes that the president was not particularly fond of the two groups. His hatred for the hippies is a different issue all together mainly linked to their peculiar lifestyle. However, his hatred for African Americans is linked to the deeply sited racial discrimination.
The classification of the drug under Schedule 1 was excused since the government was presumably protecting the people from a hazardous material. However, the first sign of foul play is in the studies that have been conducted ever since indicating that marijuana is not only harmless but it has potential benefits. If the government had any sincerity, it could have simply included alcohol and cigarettes in the schedule.
Racism linked poverty can be used to explain why marijuana was so popular among the African Americans. Marijuana could be accessed for a small sum of money. The same amount could not possibly facilitate purchase of tobacco. Additionally, tobacco requires stringent processing in order for it to be transformed into cigarettes. On the other hand, marijuana could be easily planted, harvested and rolled into joints. The simple access to marijuana made it popular among the poor people in the country.
Using Nixon as the vehicle for prohibiting marijuana use in the United States was a major lobbying exercise conducted by big tobacco companies. Essentially, the tobacco companies found the perfect fit in him since he was racist towards African Americans. On the other hand, tobacco companies were looking for a form of protection from the new drug that had a shorter growth period and was less expensive to growth. Consequently, the ban on marijuana across the state is a result of government protectionism and racial feelings harbored by a powerful president.