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Cannabis : the illegalization of weed in America
2019
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  Publishers Weekly Review

This illuminating work by Brown (Is This Guy for Real?) examines the history of the outlawing of marijuana in the U.S. and finds the drug's restriction is based on racism and falsehoods. Brown begins with the discovery of cannabis and discusses how it affects the body and perceptions, then launches into a long cultural history of cannabis in India and its importation to the Americas by the Spanish. The drug was brought into America by Mexican immigrants in the mid-19th century and later taken up in jazz culture. As lies spread that Mexicans and black people went crazy under the influence of marijuana, becoming violent and overly sexually aroused, presidents Nixon and Reagan cracked down on the drug. Brown's black-and-white cartoons are simple rather than realistic, but known figures like Nixon are readily identifiable, and each character is distinguished from the next by variations in facial features. The lumpy-headed figures are reminiscent of early comic strips, with anger represented by lightning bolts about the head and cannabis-induced euphoria indicated with a mix of wavy lines and circles. Brown ends on a hopeful note for cannabis users, tracing the medical marijuana legalization movement. This useful work will inform anyone curious about cannabis's history in America. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
<p> From the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, cannabis legislation in America and racism have been inextricably linked. In this searing nonfiction graphic novel, Box Brown sets his sights on this timely topic. </p> <p>Mexico, 1519 CE.</p> <p>During the Spanish conquests Cortés introduced hemp farming as part of his violent colonial campaign. In secret, locals began cultivating the plant for consumption. It eventually made its way to the United States through the immigrant labor force where it was shared with black laborers. It doesn't take long for American lawmakers to decry cannabis as the vice of "inferior races."</p> <p>Enter an era of propaganda designed to feed a moral panic about the dangers of a plant that had been used by humanity for thousands of years. Cannabis was given a schedule I classification, which it shared with drugs like heroin. This opened the door for a so-called "war on drugs" that disproportionately targeted young black men, leaving hundreds of thousands in prison, many for minor infractions. With its roots in "reefer madness" and misleading studies into the effects of cannabis, America's complicated and racialized relationship with marijuana continues to this day.</p> <p>In Cannabis , Box Brown delves deep into this troubling history and offers a rich, entertaining, and thoroughly researched graphic essay on the legacy of cannabis legislation in America.</p>
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