The History of Marijuana in Utah

Utah has a confusing and controversial history with marijuana that dates back to 1915. Many marijuana historians argue the origin of Utah’s marijuana history because the state is frequently cited as the first to prohibit marijuana in the United States. Scholars disagree about this because according to some, California was the first state to ban all forms of marijuana in 1913. This is just the beginning of the state’s controversial history with marijuana though, because experts also disagree about the motivation for banning the drug, because the reason was different than that leading the other anti-marijuana legalization.

Some experts suggest that the Mormon church condemned the marijuana practices brought to the state by the missionaries returning from assignments in Mexico. They introduced smoking marijuana to Utah, which the church quickly condemned in addition to any other psychoactive drugs. According to this theory, the Mormon church banned the use of marijuana among all members in 1915 and the state legislature soon followed two months later when it passed similar legislation. Other experts suggest that religion played no part in the state’s marijuana evolution, but rather they argue Utah’s law is a model of the earlier California law. Utah’s drafted law didn’t show any particular understanding of the drug, as it merely just put it in writing without actually studying the effects.

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