Source: Urban Intellectuals
I grew up thinking marijuana was bad for health, a drug worse than alcohol, cigarettes, it was like the other illegal substances. Although I am not a smoker myself I now know that factually it’s unhealthiness was grossly over exaggerated and in fact it’s now seen as medicine through much of the world.
Add the facts that the hemp plant can be used to cheaply produce paper, plastics, textiles and provide an alternative to fossil fuels you see that it can be extremely useful.
Some say that hemp could provide 100% of the energy currently provided by fossil fuels in the USA. This can be seen as one of the main reasons why in the 1930s large business owners made it a priority to make the plant illegal.
Running on false information they set to make the plant illegal based on health and safety grounds.
Here is an excerpt from an interesting article in the Washington Free Press (http://wafreepress.org/article/090304marijuana.shtml).
When powerful businesses don’t like something, they can usually get something done about it. The 1937 criminalization of marijuana is a case where this manipulation is obvious, according to Herer. Hemp threatens certain powerful businesses today, just as it did in 1937.
As the methods for processing hemp into paper and plastics were becoming more readily available and affordable, business leaders including William Randolph Hearst and DuPont stood to lose fortunes. They did everything in their power to have it outlawed. Luckily for Hearst, he was the owner of a chain of newspapers. DuPont’s chief financial backer Andrew Mellon (also the Secretary of the Treasury during President Hoover) was responsible for appointing Harry J. Anslinger, in 1931 as the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Hearst’s papers deplorably published enhanced accounts of marijuana-crazed black men raping white women. With these sensationalist newspaper stories as his support, Anslinger testified before Congress that, “Marijuana is the most violence causing drug in the history of mankind.”
Anslinger completely contradicted himself later–before Congress again in 1948—when he testified that marijuana caused its users to become peaceful and pacifist, and that Communists would use marijuana to weaken America’s will to fight.
A very interesting piece of that history is that only two days before the 1937 marijuana hearings, the American Medical Association (AMA) had just realized that the plant that Congress intended to outlaw was known medically as cannabis, which from 1850 to 1937 had been recorded as being the prime medicine for more than 100 different types of illnesses or diseases in the US pharmacopoeia. Dr James Woodward, who besides being a physician was also an attorney, testified that there wasn’t any real evidence being used to justify the new law and that the whole reason the AMA hadn’t come out against the law sooner was that “marijuana,” the new name given to cannabis by Hearst papers, was always described as a “killer weed from Mexico.”
Dr Woodward and the AMA were quickly denounced by Anslinger and eventually, after more than 3,000 AMA doctors were prosecuted by Anslinger for illegal prescriptions, the AMA came around to “support” Anslinger’s views on marijuana.