HOW DID “REEFER MADNESS” GET STARTED?
THE HEARST/DuPONT/ANSLINGER CONSPIRACY
As we all know, marijuana is a "weed" that grows almost anywhere in the world. It is considered a mild hallucinogen with no more negative side effects than aspirin, and with many potential medicinal uses including pain relief for a variety of diseases and maladies facing many American citizens.
For a few recent examples of the medical establishment’s position on medicinal use of marijuana, go here:
There is virtually no substantial history of any concern about the "evils" of marijuana in American society until the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1919, called the Volstead Act, or more commonly referred to historically as Prohibition. When alcohol prohibition went into effect, it was a big boost for cops, since many new police, customs agents, and U.S. Marshals were added to the government dole to protect American from the evils of alcohol. Just like today’s unjust marijuana laws, Prohibition was unpopular with the vast majority of Americans and was a complete failure. In fact, Prohibition increased the level of violent crime in America by opening the door to smuggling rings, bootleggers, and organized crime syndicates. In fact, the rise of the Mafia - and such notable criminals as Al Capone - can be traced directly back to the institution of Prohibition. Gangsters became rich and often gained celebrity status, elevating murderous thugs into national heroes.
See any parallels with the current War on Drugs? Anyone seen American Gangster? I rest my case!
During Prohibition - an era also referred to as The Roaring Twenties - government corruption was rampant and police - a huge portion of them on "the take"--had no desire to see Prohibition end. The booze ran free at speakeasies, morals were loose, and jazz was the music of choice, performed predominantly by African-American musicians who also had a penchant for marijuana.
As the 1920’s moved into the 1930’s with gang wars becoming commonplace and public dissatisfaction with Prohibition at it’s peak, it became clear to even the most corrupt government officials and even organized crime that the Volstead Act had to go. But it would not go quietly, and something had to be created to take it’s place to keep law enforcement funds rolling in and organized crime in business.
Local and federal policing agencies had grown fat during Prohibition, and a repeal would put many of them flat out of work. At the same time, the tyrannical William Randolph Hearst, the most powerful newspaper owner in America, began printing falsified and exaggerated stories about the "evils of marijuana". A blatant racist who despised Hispanics and Blacks, Hearst used his vast newspaper empire to create hysteria among white parents, alleging that "pushers" - most of them from the lowly ethnic minority class that Hearst despised-- would be dealing marijuana to high school kids, turning them into addicts who would quit school, commit violent crimes like murder and rape as depicted in the laughable film "Reefer Madness", produced in 1936.
In fact, creating public hysteria over smoking marijuana was simply a smokescreen for Hearst and the wealthy DuPont family to prevent the cultivation or importation of hemp products into the United States. The DuPont’s held many lucrative patents on chemicals used in manufacturing plastics, paper, and paints that could become valueless if hemp products and hemp oil derivatives became widely available. But how could they prevent this harmless weed from making their billion dollar patents worthless?
Easy. Outlaw hemp cultivation and importation. But first, the public needed to be convinced that hemp was an "evil". During the 1930’s, the Hearst and DuPont families, in conjunction with corrupt or ignorant government officials,condoned and popularized movies, books pamphlets, and and newspaper articles warning about the evils of smoking marijuana. This tacit conspiracy worked beautifully. By 1930, many states had already criminalized marijuana use and labeled it a "narcotic"! White America had adopted the lunacy of "Reefer Madness" as pure truth.
In 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created to enforce then existing laws regulating and prohibiting the use of opiates, heroin, and cocaine. In 1933, the Volstead Act was repealed by the adoption of the 21st Amendment. Harry J. Anslinger had been the Commissioner of Prohibition, but transitioned to Commissioner of the FBN in 1930 while Prohibition was on the verge of repeal. Between 1930 and 1937, Anslinger, in conjunction with the Hearst/DuPont Empires, had convinced several more states to outlaw marijuana possession. As time went on, more and more states, inundated with more and more hysterical anti-marijuana propaganda, outlawed the harmless herb. But to preserve the DuPont interest in keeping hemp and its derivatives from becoming a commercially viable product, he needed federal legislation. And he got it.
In 1937, The Anslinger Act - formally known as the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 - was passed by Congress. It imposed a prohibitive tax on the cultivation and importation of hemp and hemp products. In conjunction with existing state laws criminalizing marijuana use, the Anslinger Act effectively criminalized marijuana use at both the state and federal levels. In his testimony before Congress in 1937, Anslinger made several outrageous and unsubstantiated claims about marijuana use, calling it "a national menace", "dangerous to mind and body", and at one point calling it a substance "that releases all inhibitions" in those who use it. It is important to note that many of the supposedly "true" stories about "reefer madness" that he relied on in his testimony before Congress encouraging criminalizing marijuana at the state level involved incidents involving Black Americans, Hispanics, and other ethnic minorities. By tying the "evil weed" to ethnic minorities who were already the subject of bigotry and discrimination, he had little difficulty in convincing WASP American that marijuana was an addictive narcotic!
For an in-depth historical narrative illustrating the Hearst/Dupont/Anslinger involvement in manufacturing Reefer Madness and their collective effect on passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, go here:
THE WAR THAT NEVER ENDED—THE WAR THAT CANNOT BE WON
So, the “War on Alcohol” simply transitioned into the current "War on Drugs" including the innocuous pot plant. Many in Corporate America were happy with the ban on hemp and hemp derivatives. The law enforcement establishment turned its focus from alcohol to herion, cocaine, marijuana, and other "narcotics". The number of cops increased, and the "dole" paid to them by crime syndicates and smugglers during Prohibition continued, this time with the focus being the narcotics trade. The now-entrenched crime syndicates gave up bootlegging and simply peddled different products, predominantly heroin. Hemp ceased to ever be a viable commercial product in America, and marijuana use has been a crime ever since. And things haven’t changed much in the past 88 years, at least from the law enforcement perspective. Any suggestion of cut-backs in Drug War funding or suggestions of drug legalization immediately brings whining and panic from police agencies across the country.
WERE YOU UNLUCKY TODAY?
Unless you were just browsing around for good information about marijuana and marijuana busts, you’re no doubt here because it’s already too late, you’ve either just been released by the cops or you’re looking at a citation or summons to appear in court for a marijuana offense. Believe me, I can feel your pain, it’s happened to me!!