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Marijuana Conviction: A History of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States

NCJ Number
185042
Author(s)
Richard J. Bonnie; Charles H. Whitebread II
Date Published
1999
Length
389 pages
Annotation
This comprehensive history of marijuana use and prohibition in the United States examines the origins and history of marijuana prohibition and the unintended consequences of the laws.
Abstract
The book looks at the complex political, social, legal, and medical factors that led to the codification of prohibition laws at both Federal and State levels. When marijuana first started to become a social problem in the United States, members of Congress made definitive judgments that were not supported by reliable evidence. Laws were passed, based on definitions known to be unscientific. The interest of the authors in the legal history of marijuana began in 1969 when a young college student was sentenced under Virginia law to a mandatory 20-year sentence for the possession of a small amount of marijuana. The authors looked at historical materials dealing with marijuana. The result is a historical review that goes back to the early settlements in the United States and continues to the present. The emphasis is on science, marijuana, and politics. The authors advocate a social policy of official neutrality toward the recreational use of marijuana but a policy that seeks to discourage heavy or otherwise irresponsible marijuana use. Because the criminalization of marijuana consumption has severely affected the legal system and has eroded public confidence in the criminal justice system, the authors suggest that decriminalization is a mandatory step. References, notes, and figures