The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms in the United States that lasted throughout most of the 1930s, damaging hundreds of millions of acres of land used to grow crops and cannabis. The high winds and choking dust swept the region from Texas to Nebraska, so cannabis continued to grow and sell in other areas of the United States during this time.
Resentment of Mexican immigrants and public fear of the “evil weed” that consumed the 1920s continued well into the 1930s, so 29 individual states had outlawed cannabis by 1931. By 1937, the entire nation outlawed cannabis with the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This was the first U.S. federal law to criminalize marijuana nationwide, which effectively criminalized all but industrial uses of the plant. These strict marijuana laws forced consumers to sell and purchase off the black market, where many people were arrested and sent to perform hard labor for a number of years. Cannabis also played a significant role in music at the time, because references of the drug began to appear regularly in popular songs, “The thing about whatever we want to call it, cannabis, pot, marijuana, ‘gage’, ‘tea’, whatever, is that it was it was very prevalent. It was well known in the ‘20s but became really associated with the music with the Swing Era… because it apparently did something to steady their time feel and make it very useful for playing jazz.” Cannabis continues to be well-liked among musicians today.