The use of marijuana has been glorified in pop culture and, thanks in part to legalization efforts in many states, is now widely accepted. However, federal prisons are still packed with non-violent marijuana offenders.

While inmates are serving years in prison, celebrities and other high-society individuals openly flaunt their substance use at music festivals like Coachella in California. April 20th (aka 4/20, which is colloquial for cannabis) has evolved into a holiday for this counterculture in the US. Many celebrate the day by gathering in a public space to consume the substance together and sharing posts on social media.

This juxtaposition is nothing new in US culture. In fact, to fully understand the dynamics one has to look back at history and ask: Why are certain drugs vilified while others are not? The answer often hinges on the race (and social class) the drug in question is associated with.

In the case of marijuana in the US, the negative connotations took hold right from the start. This led to laws that criminalized the use and distribution of the plant almost everywhere in the Land of the Free.

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