Even after the acceptance of cannabis’s credibility in Colorado, many in the industry are still fighting for symbolic destigmatization of every kind. Manny Garza of Fort Collins’s Choice Organics said “We in the industry, we want to educate the public to refrain from the word marijuana. The roots are meant to divide. We’re going back to the scientific term, cannabis.”
Garza referred to a controversial issue happened in the early 20th century when there was a push to demonize the plant and criminalize it throughout the United States. By the end of the century, hemp was a famous industrial crop worldwide, but only a few US residents tested marijuana. Although, there were some restrictions regarding the production and possession of the plant.
Drawing a Stereotype of Cannabis in Colorado – From the Reefer Madness to the Lazy Stoner
‘Reefer Madness’ is called as one of the first ever carefully constructed ‘moral panic’ by the sociologists in the US. Initially, in the 1900s, the use of cannabis was minimal and wasn’t associated with any health concern. Those who took it found oils and tinctures in it and enjoyed smoke openly without any government hindrance. But, 1914 turned to be as the beginning of localized prohibition. Soon, the drug became popular among folks and believed to be immoral, criminals, ethnic minorities and immigrants.
Now, many in the industry credit this age in shifting the thinking of William Randolph Hearst. “He saw hemp as an affront on his wealth, so he used the newspapers he published to run articles about a ‘new substance’ called marijuana,” said Garza. With this, local legislators and different law enforcement officers began implementing stricter laws against the drug.
Yet by 1930, only 16 states successfully banned marijuana cultivation or possession. Throughput this year, Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Anslinger provided data to the media. This created a frightening image of marijuana. After this, the United States’ first federal anti- marijuana law known as 1937 Marijuana Tax Act.
Strangely, later in the year 1960s and 1970s, marijuana was termed differently – stating that people feel lazy and shiftless after consuming it. By then, there was no consideration of marijuana as medicine anywhere in the US.
Return of Cannabis in Colorado and Diminishing the Stereotypes
With more states fighting to legalize cannabis, activities can turn their attention to a broader goal: moving away from stereotypes and divisive history. “In essence, in the US, the word marijuana didn’t exist. And today it’s used in law enforcement circles as this taboo word. I could see people thinking we’re just trying to be different, but it’s more than that. It goes back to the roots of the word, it goes back to the time before it was demonized,” Garza said.
Hope to see some better changes to remove stereotypes against cannabis.