26 Contemp. Drug Probs. 237 (1999)
The Forgotten Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in California

handle is hein.journals/condp26 and id is 267 raw text is: Contemporary Drug Problems 26/Summer 1999

The forgotten origins of
cannabis prohibition
in California
Long before being banned by federal law in 1937, cannabis was
prohibited by California in 1913. The law was sponsored by the
state Board of Pharmacy as part of a wider, aggressive anti-
narcotics campaign originally aimed at opiates. There was no
broader public concern about cannabis at the time. Prior to 1913,
evidence for the use of hashish in California is exceedingly slim.
Mexican marihuana was not familiar to the public until after the
law was passed. The law was originally proposed by board member
Henry Finger, supposedly to prevent the spread of cannabis use by
Hindoo  immigrants. The board began staging raids against
marihuana in the Mexican district of Los Angeles in 1914. Despite
increasing penalties, use gradually spread during the 1920s and
after. California's law was not caused by reefer madness, anti-
Mexican prejudice, or any publicly perceived problem, but by a
preemptive bureaucratic initiative.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Jim Baumohl, Richard Bonnie, Patricia Mor-
gan, Jerry Mandel, Michael Aldrich, and John Lupien for their assistance
in researching this article.

© 1999 by Federal Legal Publications, Inc.

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