The Evolving Perception of Marijuana

The Evolving Perception of Marijuana

Marijuana has been a popular topic of controversy and debate for decades. The way it’s used, how it’s perceived and its legal status has changed throughout the years. Let’s take a closer look at the evolving perception of Marijuana in America.

Marijuana Before 1900s

Before the 1900s, marijuana’s domestic production flourished. Society accepted it as a harmless plant. People used it as legal tender and in making products such as rope and clothing.

The government encouraged hemp production in the 17th century. In Virginia, every farmer was required to grow it in 1619. There was an overall positive perception of the plant, as cannabis extract was even used in medicinal products and sold in public pharmacies.  

Marijuana in the Early 1900s

After the Mexican Revolution in 1910, society’s perception of marijuana changed. Mexican immigrants coming into America introduced the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. They became associated with the drug. In turn, society’s fear, prejudice against the immigrants and crimes became associated with marijuana. 

The Great Depression, massive unemployment and social unrest were also to blame. They all played a part in changing perception of the drug. By 1931, there were 29 states that outlawed cannabis.

The government’s negative view on marijuana led to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. It was the first federal law that criminalized the drug nationwide. 

Marijuana in the Mid to Late 1900s

In the 1960s and 1970s, recreational marijuana use grew in popularity. However, marijuana’s criminalization in the 20th century and anti-drug campaigns worsened perceptions. 

In the late 1900s, the increase in research on medical marijuana led to another shift in people’s view of the drug. Research showed its medical benefits such as pain relief. In the 1970s, many also acknowledged that mandatory sentences for marijuana do not eliminate its drug culture. 

In 1972, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse released a report. It recommended lower penalties and partial prohibition for marijuana possession. This, along with other research, helped grow society’s support for marijuana’s legalization. 

The government’s view of marijuana also showed signs of change in the late 1900s. Although there were a number of anti-drug campaigns and Acts, a change in perception was clear in 1996. 

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. By 1998, an additional three states joined California.  

Marijuana in the 21st Century

People’s perception of marijuana has changed drastically. Approximately two-thirds of Americans show support for the legalization of marijuana. The percentage of people who oppose its legalization dropped from 52 percent in 2010 to 32 percent in 2019.

The government’s perception of marijuana has also evolved. Although it is still illegal under federal law, many states have legalized its use. Today, medicinal marijuana is legal in 33 states, and medical and recreational marijuana is legal in 11.

Business perception has changed as well. Many dispensaries bring in a lot of revenue and come with economic benefits. Over a quarter of them generate annual revenues that exceed $1 million.

The perception of marijuana use continues to change as research continues. Certified Medical use of Marijuana has many benefits. To find out more, check out our Medwell Helth and Wellness Centers blog topics page

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