Why are some drugs legal and other drugs illegal today? It’s not based on any scientific assessment of the relative risks of these drugs — it’s based on who is associated with these drugs. The first anti-opium laws in the 1870s were directed at Chinese immigrants. The first anti-cocaine laws, in the South in the early 1900s, were directed at black men. The first anti-marijuana laws, in the Midwest and the Southwest during the 1910s and 20s, were directed at Mexican migrants and Mexican Americans. Today, Latino and black communities are still subject to wildly disproportionate drug enforcement and sentencing practices.