When you think about marijuana prohibition, you think about Reagan and the War on Drugs. But the truth is, the stigma of marijuana as dangerous, criminal, and ‘outside the norm’ began long before that in Mexico. In Isaac Campos’ novel, Home Grown, he dives into the origins of the first war on drugs. Which began long before our own and helped to influence the mindset which shapes our modern day policies.

Marijuana Prohibition: The True Beginnings

The life and times of marijuana has been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster for recreational users, medicinal patients, marijuana entrepreneurs and cultivators. When you think about where it all went wrong, most people typically go to the War on Drugs and the Reagans. But really, the tides were turning long before then.

In the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Mexico began to stigmatize marijuana and its users. There were multiple publications that began to investigate marijuana for its uses and its users. You can think of it very similarly to the beginning of the war on drugs here in America. The introduction of marijuana as the unknown that was coming for our children. These publications in Mexico had a similar effect to that of ‘Reefer Madness’ here on our own soil.

Conquistadors had used marijuana long ago as a religious substance and a textile. Their sentiment was much like our own ancestors and founding fathers, but doing so linked it to past traditions and religious practice. The early claims of divine ‘visions’ and the supernatural acted as a gateway between marijuana and early ideas of madness. From there, it was off to the races.

The Stigma Begins

Marijuana prohibition has been a reoccurring issue for hundreds of years at this point, with each country taking their own approach to it. Some— don’t bother while others are very strict. But you can see that Mexico and America are very tightly bonded when it comes to how they approached marijuana.

It began quite similarly. Marijuana was a purposeful cash crop which was turned sour by the general public’s idea of the users themselves. As outsiders, criminals, and just plain wrong. By introducing the idea of cannabis as a threatening substance, there was really no going back for quite some time.

But as we faced changes here in the U.S., as did Mexico. Medical marijuana has legalized in Mexico just as it is in much of the United States. It goes to show the cycle of things and how a bad rep can go a really long way. Marijuana prohibition is a thing of the past for some states and Mexico as of now, in terms of medicinal use. But the way the cycles have repeated themselves, does beg the question of if we will face these troubles once again.