People around the world have been smoking marijuana forever, for medicinal purposes as well as just to feel good. The Chinese cultivated it as far back as 2000 years B.C. and used it in their practice of herbal medicine. It was brought into the United States sometime around the turn of the last century by Mexican immigrants looking for work in the American southwest and quickly spread across the country.
The white racist American who had no love for the brown skinned Mexicans, nor their social habits were always looking for excuses to prove their superiority over them. They now found a good one. Someone started the rumor that pot turned the Mexican who smoked weed into a sex crazed killer that could not be trusted. Soon laws were created against it’s usage as a way to control the Mexicans working in this country. From 1914 to 1937, twenty-seven states passed anti-pot laws.
Regardless of the fact that pot was now illegal in some states it grew in popularity and increased in usage, mainly among musicians and artists who found the herb helped them in their creative endeavors. The drug grew in popularity until the white majority took a moral (as well as a financial and the fact they were just downright lied to) stand against it . . . along came Harry Anslinger the perfect political puppet for the anti-hemp cotton cartel.
AlterNet / By Steven Wishnia (excerpt)
Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, headed the charge against pot. “If the hideous monster Frankenstein came face to face with the monster marihuana, he would drop dead of fright,” he thundered in 1937.
An ambitious racist (a 1934 memo described an informant as a “ginger-colored nigger”) who had previously been federal assistant Prohibition commissioner, Anslinger railed against reefer in magazine articles like 1937’s “Marihuana: Assassin of Youth.” It featured gory stories like that of Victor Licata, a once “sane, rather quiet young man” from Tampa, Fla., who’d killed his family with an axe in 1933, after becoming “pitifully crazed” from smoking “muggles.” (Actually, the Tampa police had tried to have Licata committed to a mental hospital before he started smoking pot.)
Anslinger’s other theme was that white girls would be ruined once they’d experienced the lurid pleasures of having a black man’s joint in their mouth. “Colored students at the Univ. of Minn. partying with female students (white) smoking and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution,” he noted. “Result, pregnancy.”
In 1937, after a very cursory debate, Congress enacted the Marihuana Tax Act, levying a prohibitive $100-an-ounce tax on cannabis. “I believe in some cases one cigarette might develop a homicidal mania,” Anslinger testified in a hearing on the bill. (end)
The war on pot had begun. In 1936, Hollywood produced Reefer Madness, a scare movie which perpetuated the myth that pot turned people into crazed killers. The movie is actually pretty funny (though the intention isn’t) and can be watched on Youtube if you are interested. I equate it with the duck and cover bullshit they taught us kids during the 50’s.
So, on and on it has gone. One side equating pot as the devils drug, the other deifying it. Well, neither side seems to know their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to the actuality of the weed so I, as a user since about 1968, intend to set everybody straight . . . 🙂 as to the reality of the wacky weed. (part two coming soon)