Whenever April 20 rolls around, as enthusiasts mark the 420 date by celebrating “Weed Day,” there are always calls for the U.S. federal government to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
But the debate over marijuana’s legality in the United States has never been about just one plant. As scrutiny of the U.S.-Mexico border reaches a new level in American politics, experts say it’s important to remember that it’s always been tied to concerns about immigration — though not in the way many people think.
“One of the really important things people often presume is that Mexicans have had a more tolerant attitude towards cannabis than Americans, and that’s just not the case,” says historian Isaac Campos, author of Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs. “Cannabis was demonized in other places as well, especially in Mexico. The history of these kinds of