Whether it was fear, racism or economic concerns that led the U.S. in the 1930s to ban growing or even possessing marijuana, the nation’s wall against pot lasted a generation. Now, it’s showing signs of wear.
Twenty-nine U.S. states consider pot legal for people with certain medical conditions. Eight of those states, plus the District of Columbia have legalized pot for all adults over 21.
But the United States’ marijuana experiment isn’t over. Many states still ban the drug for adults who aren’t sick, and threats to the growing industry persist because pot use remains federally illegal.
Three months into the Trump administration, on the eve of the 4/20 date celebrated by marijuana enthusiasts, here’s a look at the drug’s history in the U.S., its legal status and what’s next for the ancient but mysterious plant:
HOW WE GOT HERE
In the 1970s, at least 11 states removed criminal penalties or jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
A few years later, some victims of the AIDS epidemic ravaging the U.S. began turning to pot to relieve pain, stimulate their appetites and help them sleep.
In 1996, California voters blew a hole in the anti-marijuana wall by saying sick people could use weed. The nation’s most populous state simply decided it would stop prosecuting sick people for using pot.
More than a dozen other states followed. The U.S. government expressed outrage and dispatched drug agents to the places growing and selling pot, but those…
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