Cultivation of marijuana in the United States date back 400 years ago. Marijuana cultivation for fiber continued in the United States through the turn of the 20th century. In the 1920s and 1930s marijuana was recognized as an intoxicant. Between 1920s and 1930s the exaggerated accounts of violent crimes allegedly committed by the African American immigrants intoxicated by marijuana were popularized by the federal bureau of narcotics which was newly formed and tabloid newspapers. Marijuana Tax Act was approved in 1937 by the congress and was based entirely on the propagandas and misinformation (Ruschmann, 306).
Despite many years of criminal prohibition in the United States marijuana remains the third most popular drug of choice for recreation. According to the federal government figures it is estimated that more than 70 million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once in their life. According to 2000 government report it is estimated that over 10 million people are regular smokers of marijuana (Booth, 101). On the other hand contrary to government propagandas most of the marijuana smokers are citizens who abides by the laws, contribute to the communities and work harder to raise their families (Booth, 107).
These individuals in most cases are not involved in crime problems and therefore treating them as criminals is a form of injustice. Enforcement of laws against marijuana has had negative consequences since at every 45 seconds or less a marijuana smoker is arrested and therefore places a heavy burden to the society (Califano, 37). Since 1972 when the recommendations from national commission on marijuana and drug abuse were issued to the congress to decriminalize marijuana more than 10,000 individuals in the United States have been arrested on its charges (Ruschmann, 310).
The federal government has established harsh penalties against marijuana and therefore marijuana offenders are more likely to be sentenced to more lengthy jail terms. Individuals who avoid incarceration are subject to other additional punishments that include loss of occupation license, loss of federal benefits, loss of child custody and removal from the houses of the public (Booth, 109). Under the federal and states forfeiture laws several individual who are suspected to be marijuana offenders loose their cars, houses, cash, lands, boats and business equipments.
Unfortunately 80 percent of the suspected offenders whose properties are seized are not charged with crimes (Califano, 42). On the other hand prohibition of marijuana disproportionately impacts on the minorities. Black Hispanics and African Americans are over represented in the number of the arrests and offenders incarcerated. According to government report Hispanic and black African American constitute to about 20 percent of the individuals who smoke marijuana in the United States but in the number of marijuana offenders who are sentenced under the federal law is more than 58 percent (Ruschmann, 312).