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Salon: US Marijuana policy is rooted in Anti-Asian past

medical marijuan girlA blog published in Salon and Alternet  concludes that drug laws are rooted in anti-Asian racism in both the United States and Canada.

The first federal law to criminalize the sale of drugs was passed in 1914, the Harrison Narcotic Act.

It outlawed opiates which were popular  among drug users in the Chinese American community at a time when anti-Asian sentiment was at a high. At the same time, the Harrison Narcotic Act protected morphine and the middle class whites who used them.

Even before that, in 1907 in Canada, white supremacists formed the Asiatic Exclusion League.

An angry mob attacked Chinatown and a police report later blamed the riots on the victims and their Chinese-run opium dens.

According to the blog in Salon:

The report was a lie, but the lie prevailed. The following year, the Canadian parliament passed the Anti-Opium Act of 1908; and just as King recommended, the act drew a sharp distinction between the “medicinal purposes” of opium, which were allowed under the law, and all other reasons for using the drug, which were prohibited. The means of ingesting opium most favored by the white majority were redefined as “medical” use, while customs like smoking from a Chinese water pipe were banned.

So what does this all have to do with today’s medical marijuana laws?

It seems like a stretch to me, but I’d be curious what you think. Read the Salon and share your thoughts.




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