Cannabis prohibition is a misguided idea that the government needs to prevent you from harming yourself by throwing you in a cage. The Pure Food and Drug Act, despite good intentions and positive outcomes, did not start with the intent to prohibit cannabis outright, but that was the ultimate result as bureaucrats enforced the law according to their own biases. The act—signed 111 years ago on June 30, 1906—failed on the cannabis front because it involved subjective judgment calls made by bureaucrats, not doctors. Sound familiar?
The Chemistry Bureau, led by Harvey Wiley (second from left in photo above), had unprecedented power to label, seize and ban drugs from the marketplace. With alcohol prohibition and full-scale reefer madness on the horizon, legislators updated the Pure Food and Drug Act and introduced subsequent laws that gradually instituted full-scale prohibition.
Prohibition reminds us of a quote from famed U.S. intellectual John Stuart Mill in the 1800s. In his treatise On Liberty, Mill wrote, "That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”