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The Impact of
The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937


The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 laid the foundation for federal criminalization of marijuana, a common plant that had been long used for its medicinal properties. It was fueled by widespread racial discrimination against Mexican-Americans and Blacks and was instigated by a desperate need for funding by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.


At the time, the US federal government lacked the power to ban cannabis, so it levied a tax so punitive that no one could pay it. The effects of cannabis prohibition, inequities in executive and legislative enforcement, and mass incarceration are a direct cause to the current state in many of our families and communities.


It is important to understand this history and to be deliberate about how we leverage this industry to truly address the harms and chart a path forward that is more inclusive and equitable.

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Our Community Engagement Platform

In order to appropriately address an issue, it is critical to define the problem. The core problem: Communities that have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs have disproportionate economic opportunities. The types of trauma experienced as a result of the war on drugs is an interrelated cause and effect loop that includes highly complicated issues such as mass incarceration, abandonment, child abuse and neglect, and violence (e.g., gun violence, domestic violence, sexual violence).

Although this problem does not exist in isolation, it is important to acknowledge its pervasiveness and broad-reaching impact spanning generations. The 1937 Foundation’s program plan serves as a roadmap to aid in addressing this problem.

It is for this reason that the “Grow Through Adversity” program is founded upon raising awareness about the innate need to heal. The 1937 Foundation plans to engage the community by establishing dedicated resources to address trauma-related post-traumatic stress (PTS) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to provide an individualized pathway toward economic viability for individuals who have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs. 


The primary goals of the “Grow Through Adversity” program are:

  1. Improve the mental health of individuals impacted by trauma and participants recently incarcerated;

  2. Reduce the recurrence of violent offenses and recidivism into the criminal justice system by participants; and

  3. Increase employment and business ownership by participants. 

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