History Matters

BALCA focuses on understanding the historical origins of prohibition of cannabis. Studying history further gives us a powerful analysis to see how unjust, legal systems of control were implemented through drug policy, criminalizing communities with extensive plant based medicinal knowledge and experience. The Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in California by Dale H. Gieringer is a breathtaking insight in California at the turn of the century, where US pharmacists had an appreciation for the pharmaceutical cannabis sativa medicine, while a deep racism towards the people bringing Marihuana or Mariguana. Marijuana was soon as the “loco weed,” will make you violent, crazy, with hyper sensationalist pieces written by top pharmaceutical institutions, reprinted by the top newspapers of the time. This history demonstrates the open points of racial tension in California that were central in forming the prohibition laws in California in 1913, with deep hostility towards the Mexican and Mexican-American Marihuana influence. Notably this racist framework was scaled out, laying the groundwork for the federal prohibition in 1938. Mexicans and the origins of marijuana prohibition in the United States: a reassessment by Isaac Campos challenges what is called the “Mexican hypothesis” regarding marijuana criminalization in the U.S. Campos demonstrates that the original evidence for the Mexican hypothesis was extremely weak, that marijuana was quite rare in Mexican immigrant communities, and that several other factors, xenophobic fear of the Mexican community taking over the US drove the criminalization of marijuana. Forbidden herbs: Alzate’s defense of pipiltzintzintlis by Laura Dierksmeier: For hundreds of years Spanish hemp, called cáñamo, was driven by Colonial policy, while indigenous laborers of cáñamo grew and harvested their own flowers and consumed what was called pipiltzintzintlis. Mexican Scientist and writer José Antonio Alzate y Ramírez (1737–1799) defended the medicinal benefits of cannabis against the prohibition of the Spanish Catholic Inquisition. Alzate concluded that the indigenous herb pipiltzintzintlis was ‘nothing else but cáñamo,’ standing up to the inquisition for early cannabis medical rights.