Monday, September 13, 2021
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by Sarah Brady Siff now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:
Marijuana was illegal to possess or sell in California for 103 years. The state first banned it in 1913, grouping it with opiates and cocaine on a list of prohibited vice drugs adopted six years earlier, meaning that it was subject to the same penalties as these other, far more dangerous, drugs until 1961. Initially framed as a “Mexican” drug, marijuana prohibition enforcement began on the periphery of Los Angeles in older Latino neighborhoods as well as in agricultural outposts where immigrants lived, worked, and gardened. Later this policing turned toward the city center, targeting the segregated section of Central Avenue with its jazz musicians and its multiracial nightlife, as well as actors and musicians in nearby Hollywood. By 1950, Los Angeles-area police were arresting more people for the possession or sale of marijuana than for heroin, other opiates, and cocaine combined. Mexican, Mexican American, and Black citizens were the targets of this enforcement in sharp disproportion to their presence there.