Last year, History Cool Kids shared the ingredients to the leading cough syrup from the early 1900s to explain the impact of cannabis prohibition in America:
This time period also saw the heavy influx of Mexican immigrants to states like Texas and Louisiana after the Mexican Revolution (1910 – 1920). While Americans were very familiar with “cannabis” because it was present in not only cough drops but almost all tinctures and medicines available at the time, the term, “marijuana” was still foreign and was used almost exclusively by Mexican immigrants.
The American media began to play on the fears of the public by spreading lies about Mexican immigrants, labeling them as “disruptive” due to their penchant for using marijuana. The rest of the nation did not know that this marijuana was a plant already present in their medicine cabinets.
The demonization of marijuana was an extension of the demonization of Mexican immigrants, and an effort to control and keep close tabs on them. Texas borrowed from San Francisco’s playbook, which outlawed the use of opium decades earlier in an effort to control Chinese immigrants.
During hearings on banning marijuana, claims were made that marijuana had the ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women. This imagery served as a catalyst for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which effectively banned its use and sales.
The good news is that cannabis legalization efforts succeeded once again at the polls this week!