Cannabis History: Why is it Illegal?

10665225_743999938986397_3256407236390771751_nAs of today there are 24 states with medical cannabis laws. Nine with current pending legislation and 2 states with legal recreational cannabis. Washington DC also legalized recreational cannabis but Congress has been preventing DC from going forward with their voter approved recreational program. It is people like Andy Harris, (Republican representative of Maryland) has vowed to put a stop to the progression of the bill in Congress. We all know that even with so much information out there right now about how cannabis can benefit people and how it can be used as a valuable medicine, but still it remains illegal. The government must have a good reason that they made the plant illegal in the first place and this may shed some light on why it is still not allowed to be legal on a federal level.

So why and how did the United States make cannabis illegal? First we need to know when did cannabis become illegal? And who the main players were involved in the push to have a total prohibition of the cannabis plant.

Let me start with the Who: Henry J Anslinger was a former Alcohol prohibition agent. This man is the one who spear headed the laws that made cannabis illegal and he would eventually become the Untied States first drug Czar.

So why and how is it that Henry Anslinger was able to make cannabis illegal? A plant that has had thousands of years of benefit to man kind. What made our government decide to turn its back and in effect made the general public turn its back on cannabis as well. At this time cannabis was used in many different medications for hundreds of different aliments and was list in the US Pharmacopeia. It is hard to decide what is more important to teach everyone about: the how? or, the Why? But I think I should start with the How.

Henry Anslinger introduces the Congress of a new threat to America. Enter, Marijuana the evil Mexican devil weed. Even though he did not coin the word Marijuana he used it because most Americans did not know what Marijuana or weed was. By simply re-naming the plant he was able to convince Congress of the dangers of this weed named Marijuana and in 1937 gets the marijuana stamp act passed.  This is the how but Why?

What was so wrong with cannabis that Henry Anslinger would want to make it illegal? Lets ask him for our selves and hear what he has had to say on this topic.

  • “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
  • “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
  • “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.”

As you can see he was a very racist man. We are all humans right? But racism was not his only tool he used. He also used misinformation to mislead the general public.

  • “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”
  • “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”
  • “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”

He even contradicted himself, what is it do you become a pacifist? or go insane and kill your brother? So it becomes very clear that he is not aware of any truths about cannabis. And it seems to be that his motivation is a pure evil racist one. However there does seem to be more to the story about, Why, make cannabis illegal. Henry Anslinger was also supported by the pharmaceutical companies who wanted people to buy their medicines and not grow their own. Dupont chemical company just patented nylon a synthetic petroleum based fabric and hemp was going to be major competition and wanted hemp removed from competition. It just happens that Dupont nephew was Henry Anslinger. Makes you think, huh?

Now we know who, when, why and how. I have one other thing for you to think about. By renaming cannabis to marijuana he was able to trick everyone. However it is also the term Marijuana that has the most negative stigma still relating to it. Start calling it Cannabis again and shed the negative stigma and remember to:

“Spread Cannabis Knowledge!”

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