The Truth is Out There
Find anyone who is against the legalization of marijuana and ask them why they believe the “drug” should remain illegal. After they respond with narrow-minded statements that they believe to be facts but actually have zero scientific backing or support whatsoever, I want you to ask this series of questions:
- “How come the U.S. government actually used to tax marijuana?”
- “How come the U.S. government tested marijuana as a truth serum?”
- “Why are thousands of marijuana plants grown today on public land?”
And lastly, my absolute favorite question to make every nay-sayer respond with “uhhhh, ummm, uhhh duuhhh, ummm,”
- “Why has the U.S. government been growing marijuana for decades?”
After you ask that last question make sure to pull out your smart phone or camera and snap a selfie with them because the expression on their face will be priceless. Then upload it to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #dumbass.
The truth is that marijuana and hemp used to be widely accepted and used by the U.S. government and citizens across the country until one political event changed everything. I am about to share with you just how and why marijuana became outlawed in the United States. And it has absolutely NOTHING to do with its effects on the human body as a “drug.”
Mexicans are Responsible for “Marijuana?”
First, consider this. Throughout the 19th century, Americans used the word “cannabis” when referring to the plant, not marijuana. Pharmaceutical companies like Bristol-Myers Squib and Eli Lilly used cannabis in medicines — widely sold in U.S. pharmacies — to treat insomnia, migraines and rheumatism. From 1840 to 1900, U.S. scientific journals published hundreds of articles touting the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. But not once, not never, not ever was the plant referred to as “marijuana.” So where the hell did that word come from and why does it dominate the discourse in the United States today?
The answer can be found in the Mexican Revolution. Beginning in 1910, the Mexican Revolution is responsible for not only the creation of the word “marijuana” but for the radical change in our government’s stance on the plant. And here’s why.
After the war, waves of Mexican peasants migrated to U.S. state borders bringing with them their popular and preferred form of intoxication, what they termed “mariguana.”
With so many Mexican immigrants knocking on the doors of Southern state borders, anti-immigrant fears spread quickly. And after the Great Depression, these fears and prejudices against the Mexican people only grew. Historians and analysts attribute the creation of our nation’s very first marijuana laws to an attempt at trying to place social controls on the immigrant population.
In an effort to marginalize the new migrant population, the first anti-cannabis laws were targeted at the term “marijuana,” says Amanda Reiman, a policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. Scholars say it’s no coincidence that the first U.S. cities to outlaw pot were in Border States. It is widely believed that El Paso, Texas, was the first U.S. city to ban cannabis, when it approved a measure in 1914 prohibiting the sale or possession of the “drug.”
Around the same time, West Indian and Mexican migrants started taking marijuana with them to ports along the Gulf of Mexico — most notably New Orleans, where the media began associating cannabis use with jazz musicians, blacks and prostitutes. Media outlets across the country helped fuel the hysteria, churning out headlines like “Loco weed now cultivated and smoked in cigarettes” and “Murder weed found up and down coast.” By the early 1930s, 29 states had banned marijuana.
Politics and Racism
But the man most largely responsible for cementing the negative view on marijuana is undoubtedly some jackass named Harry Anslinger, director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962. An outspoken critic of the “drug,” he set out in the 1930s to place a federal ban on cannabis, embarking on a series of public appearances across the country.
Anslinger is often referred to as the great racist of the war on drugs, says John Collins, coordinator of the LSE IDEAS International Drug Policy Project in London. That’s funny because I refer to him as the “not-so-great asshole.”
Collins is not certain if the “not-so-great asshole” truly was a bigot. “But he knew that he had to play up people’s fears in order to get federal legislation passed,” Collins said. “So when talking to senators with large immigrant populations, it very much helped to portray drugs as something external, something that is invading the U.S. He would use the term ‘marijuana’ knowing that it sounds Hispanic, it sounds foreign.”
Anslinger began his federal campaign against the drug by publishing a report titled “Marijuana: Assassin of Youth” in 1937. That year, Anslinger testified before Congress in favor of marijuana prohibition stating, “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.” “Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage.”
Was this guy f@cking serious?! How stupid were people back then?
But wait, it gets worse guys…
Big Business and Monopolies Hated Hemp
You see, Anslinger had a friend by the name of William Randolph Hearst. Hearst was not only a notoriously known racist with a strong hatred towards Mexicans, but he also happened to be the owner of the largest media conglomerate of the early-mid 1900s. Hearst owned just about every major newspaper in every major city in the United States. And get this, was heavily invested in the timber and paper production business to support his newspaper chain. Ahhhh, did that little light bulb inside your head just turn on?
What’s very similar to marijuana that could threaten a timber, paper business? Hemp!
Hemp was exploding on the scene in the early 1900s and it was a HUGE threat to Hearst. Early colonists were required to grow hemp, during World War II you could actually dodge the draft by growing hemp, and Henry Ford even made a car entirely from hemp! The mass production of hemp paper threatened to tear Hearst’s empire apart and he wasn’t going to stand for it. So what did he do?
Hearst is the creator of something known as yellow journalism, a practice that involves very little or no research and news but rather exaggerated and outlandish headlines to sell more newspapers. He used eye-catching headlines to captivate an audience and emphasized sensationalism rather than facts about how marijuana was ruining our country. This helped Anslinger build a political following for his fight against the Mexicans, I mean marijuana.
Hearst lost 800,000 acres of timberland to Pancho Villa, a prominent Mexican Revolutionary war general, which only fueled his hatred for the Mexican people. And the bottom line people is that telling outlandish lies about Mexicans and their crazy marijuana usage sold newspapers and made him filthy disgusting rich.
Their combination of political influence and media persuasion proved successful as Congress approved the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 criminalizing pot possession throughout the United States.
Go ahead, take a moment to really let that sink in. We outlawed an extremely useful plant because we wanted to put restraints on Mexican immigrants and some racist guy in a position of power was scared of losing money. Well, I guess nothing’s changed in nearly 100 years because I’m pretty sure immigration is still a major political debate, people are still racist, and big business still has a grasp on global economies.
And considering how big of a political topic immigration laws are today, I’d say the outlawing of marijuana was a complete failure!