In the cannabis community, it is important to revisit the historical circumstances that have placed marijuana, hemp and CBD in a less-than-normal legal situation in America.
Stigma after decades of prohibition and brutal enforcement has understandably tainted many people’s understanding of cannabis products, so this effort serves a legitimate purpose.
Recent reports have once again drawn attention to the 1970 Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Controlled Substances Act, which was passed by president Richard Nixon in one of the most heightened and politically divisive moments in the second half of the 20th century in America.
Both High Times Magazine and the History Channel have recently revisited the bill and it’s explicitly racist rationale for drafting and passage.
After the anti-war and civil rights protests and riots of 1968, the most destructive and far-reaching until 2020, Nixon was looking for an easy fix to his culture war bugaboos.
He found the drug war as a perfect scapegoat, and a couple generations of peaceful people suffered because of it.
“You understand what I’m saying?” Nixon told journalist John Ehrlichmann in 1968, according to High Times and Harper’s Magazine. “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or blacks, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.”
High Times claims that while Nixon ultimately approved the version of the Controlled Substances Act that forced the new prohibition on CBD, marijuana and other cannabis products, he didn’t manage to do so until multiple organized attempts at subterfuge.
For instance the first university study Nixon commissioned on cannabis returned this finding, according to the popular cannabis trade magazine: “Responsible behavior, through individual choice, is both the guarantor and the objective of a free society.”
Nixon’s replacement Gerald Ford, on top of pardoning his disgraced outgoing president, also made it illegal to continue such research on cannabis products given their new prohibited status.
This story isn’t meant to be partisan, as multiple administrations from different parties prosecuted the escalating drug war in the time since Nixon, but it does shed light on the origins of the current status of the cannabis industry.
Industrial hemp was made legal in 2018, and its derivative products like CBD followed, but recreational marijuana still has an irregular status and is prohibited by the federal government under Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act.
It is important to understand what the CBD and cannabis industries are overcoming as they seek to bring more and more people relief and wellness.