It is a common assumption that marijuana was made illegal after conducting medical, scientific, and government hearings. However, this is far from the truth and we will be accessing nothing but the real truth in this piece of information.
The history of marijuana’s criminalization is associated with incidents of fear, racism, yellow journalism, ignorance, corruption, and greed. These are the actual reasons why marijuana was made illegal by most countries of the world. The fact that those voting on the legal fate of marijuana never had the facts to supports their claims and depended only on information provided to them by people and agencies that had a certain agenda to deceive lawmakers.
It is worthwhile to note here that marijuana was completely legal for most centuries. The use of marijuana dates back to 7000 B.C. and it was used for making woven fabric, food, clothing, and much more. According to the first marijuana law of the United States of America, all farmers were “ordered” to grow Indian hempseed and there were many incidents when farmers who didn’t obey the order were sent to jail. During these times, hemp was treated as a legal tender that means that people could actually pay their taxes or buy things with hemp.
The revolution in Mexico in 1910 when General Pershing’s army clashed with bandit Pancho Villa and use of cheap Mexican labor by some farmers soured US-Mexico relations. Since many Mexicans smoked marijuana, California passed the first marijuana law and outlawed “preparations of hemp, or loco weed.” Many other states in the United States followed California and passed marijuana prohibition laws, which were specifically targeted against the Mexican-American population.
In 1930, the beginning of the all-out war against marijuana came to light with the establishment of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics under the directorship of Harry J. Anslinger. Files prepared by Anslinger used to be full of negative comments against marijuana, such as:
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”
“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”
“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
In his quest to make marijuana illegal, Anslinger got help from William Randolf Hearst, owner of a huge chain of newspapers. Hearst hated Mexicans and wanted to stop the development of hemp paper as he had invested heavily in timber industry for supporting his newspaper chain. He also had lost 800,000 acres of timberland to Pancho Villa. Moreover, news of marijuana causing violence appearing on his newspapers was making him rich.
Marijuana was soon associated with violent behavior by the so-called experts. Dr. A. E. Fossier wrote in the 1931 New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal: “Under the influence of hashish those fanatics would madly rush at their enemies, and ruthlessly massacre every one within their grasp.”
People were almost “forced” to believe that marijuana is bad for them and should be rightly illegal.
Dupont chemical company that had patented nylon and wanted to eliminate hemp as competition supported the claims made by Hearst and Anslinger. The association set the stage for The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that made the Yellow journalism won over medical science. This was only after the legislation was wrongly told that a doctor from the American Medical Association supports the anti-marijuana law.
In short, it is not marijuana but people with deceiving intentions (full of hatred and racism) who made the plant illegal.
• The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States by Charles Whitebread, Professor of Law, USC Law School. A Speech to the California Judges Association 1995 annual conference.
• THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT AND THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE: AN INQUIRY INTO THE LEGAL HISTORY OF AMERICAN MARIJUANA PROHIBITION by
Richard J. Bonnie & Charles H. Whitebread, II. VIRGINIA LAW REVIEW. VOLUME 56 OCTOBER 1970 NUMBER 6
• The Consumers Union Report – Licit and Illicit Drugs
by Edward M. Brecher and the Editors of Consumer Reports Magazine
• The History of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
By David F. Musto, M.D., New Haven, Conn.
Originally published in Arch. Gen. Psychiat. Volume 26, February, 1972
• The Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
I. Control of Marihuana, Alcohol and Tobacco.
History of Marihuana Legislation
• The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
The history of how the Marihuana Tax Act came to be the law of the land.
• Marijuana – The First Twelve Thousand Years by Ernest L. Abel, 1980