Oregon Ends Marijuana Prohibition After 78 Years

Oregon Ends Marijuana Prohibition After 78 Years

Thousands of peaceful demonstrators lined the bridges of Portland, Oregon on June 31, the last night when marijuana would still be illegal. They were not demonstrating for the new law making pot legal. They were just waiting for midnight, when they lit up and cheered. Prohibition had ended in Oregon.

The end of marijuana prohibition is long overdue. Alcohol prohibition lasted only 13 years, from 1920 to 1933. Marijuana prohibition started in 1937. It’s now been 78 years of stupidity and counting.  Harry Anslinger, Commissioner of Narcotics, officially declared in 1937 that:

“[t]he deleterious, even vicious, qualities of [marijuana] render it highly dangerous to the mind and body upon which it operates to destroy the will, cause one to lose the power of connected thought, producing imaginary delectable situations and gradually weakening the physical powers. Its use frequently leads to insanity.”

None of which is even remotely true, as a report by Fiorello LaGuardia revealed at the time. Apparently Anslinger and other opponents of legal drugs simply made stuff up to justify prohibition.

Republican President Nixon, who officially declared the War on Drugs, said about marijuana on his secret tapes,

“Communists were using it as a weapon. ‘Homosexuality, dope, immorality in general,’ Nixon fumed. ‘These are the enemies of strong societies. That’s why the Communists and the left-wingers are pushing the stuff, they’re trying to destroy us.’ His approach to drug education was just as simplistic: ‘Enforce the law. You’ve got to scare them.'”

Someone could have told Nixon that scaring people into doing what you want is the hallmark of tyranny.

President Ronald Reagan added to the misinformation about marijuana in 1980 by saying,

“Leading medical experts are coming to the conclusion that marijuana…is probably the most dangerous drug in the United States and we have not begun to find out all of the ill effects but they are permanent ill effects.”

Ill effects that have not yet been discovered are not real. Imaginary effects cannot be permanent because they don’t exist.

You would have thought that people  would have given up this violent and false rhetoric, but no. Ken Sabet, president of an anti-marijuana group, recently said:

“When most Oregonians realize this is about Big Marijuana making money, and they see child poisonings from THC gummy bears and candies go up, along with car accidents, they may have reservations.”

Yet again, the charges against marijuana are about imagined things that may happen in the future, not about things that have happened in reality. All along, for 78 years, anti-marijuana sentiment has been driven by irrational fears that are hyped by politicians for political gain.

Oregon becomes one of four states to legalize recreational possession and use of marijuana. Prohibition has ended in those four states and the District of Columbia. The irrational fear of a relatively harmless drug continues to keep filling prisons in the other 46 states. For how long?

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Allan is as a life-long progressive. He has an MA degree in paralegal studies, and has served on the board of directors for the National Lawyers Guild. He also spent 20 years in Silicon Valley at companies like Apple, Netscape, and AOL.