Marijuana has enjoyed a bit of a roller-coaster ride in the United States.
Early-on, the government encouraged the production of hemp for industrial purposes. Then, cannabis became an ingredient in patent medicines. In the early 1900s, labeling laws required that its presence be disclosed. Mexican immigrants reportedly introduced Americans to the recreational use of marijuana when they came to the U.S. after the Mexican Revolution.
Recreational use eventually provoked a backlash. In 1932, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics developed the Uniform State Narcotic Act and urged states to adopt it. In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which effectively criminalized marijuana. In the 1950s, Congress started setting mandatory sentences, which it repealed in the 1970s, and reimposed in the 1980s. In 1996, California voters approved the medical use of marijuana.
These days, it seems that public opinion increasingly favors legalization. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of marijuana. Colorado and Washington states have gone further and legalized recreational use. In a recent Gallup poll, 58 percent of about 1,000 Americans surveyed favored legalization. The New York Times reports that after 17 years of experience with medical marijuana, California has not experienced the adverse effects that opponents predicted.
On Nov. 5, Portland residents will be asked to approve an ordinance that would legalize the possession