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Changing Perceptions: Marijuana Legalization Support Over Time

Public opinion on legalizing marijuana use has ebbed and flowed over the past four decades


Cannabis, weed, pot, marijuana, grass…

The plant has many names and a unique history. First recorded use of the plant dates back to 2900 BC, when Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi referred to the plant as a popular medicine that possessed both yin and yang.

Documented use of the plant as both a medicine and intoxicant appear throughout history. From the ancient Chinese, Egyptians and Greeks, to Shakespeare and the early American colonies, people throughout history celebrated the diverse benefits of the plant. 

Cannabis was first outlawed in Massachusetts in 1911 at the start of the prohibition era. While alcohol prohibition would only last only until 1933, cannabis prohibition persisted and propaganda became fact.

 1936 - Reefer Madness Film Cautions Against Marijuana1930's Marijuana Propaganda Poster

1930s Propaganda: Reefer Madness Film Cautions Against Marijuana

1970 - Controlled Substances Act Classifies Marijuana as a Drug with "No Accepted Medical Use"


Why Should Marijuana Be Legal? Voices of Supporters

Main reason you support legalizing use of marijuana…

“It is not as harmful as alcohol. […] It also helps medical conditions as a more natural substitute to pharmaceuticals.” Female, 46

“I think crime would be lower if they legalized marijuana. It would put the drug dealers out of business.” Female, 62

“Because people should be allowed to have control over their body and not have the government intervene in that.” Male, 18

“I think that we would have more control over it by allowing a federal agency to tax and regulate it like alcohol.” Male, 25