Currently, drugs remain high on the lists of concerns of Americans and are considered one of the major problems facing our country today. We see stories on the news about people being killed on the street every day over drugs. To many people drugs are only an inner-city problem, but in reality they affect all of us - users and non-users. I believe that the negative affects we associate with drugs would be greatly reduced if the United States adopted a policy towards the total decriminalization of marijuana. The current drug policy of our government is obviously failing. Drug laws have created corruption, violence, increased street crime, and disrespect for the criminal justice system. Current drug legislation has failed to reduce demand. It's just too hard to monitor illegal substances when a significant portion of the population is committed to using drugs. (Inciardi and McBride 260) .
Marijuana comes from the hemp plant, which can readily be grown on fields across the nation and was cultivated heavily in colonial period. After 130 years of being legal, the potential problems of marijuana were brought into the public eye by Harry J. Anslingler, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and author of Marijuana: Assassin of Youth (Goldman 88). In his book, Anslinger portrayed images of Mexican and Negro criminals, as well as young boys, who became killers while under the influence of marijuana. With the added public pressure, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This law made the use and dale of marijuana federal offenses. At this point marijuana was removed from the public eye, and heavy users included poor Negroes, migrant Mexicans, and Jazz Musicians (Himmelstein 3). .
Marijuana reappeared in the mid 1960's with the emergence of the "Hippie." Widespread objection to the use of marijuana remained because of the set of valued and lifestyles associated with it, but use appeared in colleges and among middle-class youths in the suburbs (Himmelstein 103).