Currently Reading: Harry Anslinger vs. Cannabis

Drug Czars started in 1930 when prohibition agencies were seen as corrupt. The Bureau of Narcotics first chief was Harry Anslinger, deemed incorruptible, and charged with getting taxable, orderly revenue out of drugs and alcohol sales. Prohibition always seemed more like a device of control to get more productivity out of working class laborers, the high society was always going to drink. The problem was they were acquiring that drink from violent criminals in racketeering schemes, and when the amendment was rescinded, and the criminals mostly behind bars… Harry Anslinger set his sights on cannabis to justify his budget as the Great Depression grabbed hold…

What was once a mild nuisance was re-branded as an epidemic of cannabis abusers, many of darker complexion, threatening the quiet way of American life. William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper mogul, benefitted from the propaganda campaign. Hollywood made films to make this boogieman come to life, and the exaggerations were comical. Reefer Madness, The Devil Weed, and on and on. They were racist first and foremost, economically driven and not in the interest of public health. It was a cash grab, and the fearful masses were tricked in to believing the problem was bigger than it was.

Anslinger buddied up with the owners of DuPont and cashed in on the suppression of hemp as an industrial alternative.

His focus was squarely on demonizing it, giving a face to it, and making sure the impressionable suburbanites knew it was spreading when they watched the evening news.

4Evergreen Group is committed to a day when the war on drugs will end so the earmarks and profiteering can float to the next crusade. Understanding the policies that went in to effect almost a century ago, and still oppose our values today, the ones that taxpayers have voted on repeatedly, is key to creating change.

Prior to the recreational party drug turned nationwide enforcement priority, farmers were given license to harvest the crop. It was taxed and used for a variety of industrial purposes, as you can see from this nice man in Wisconsin’s paperwork authorizing the harvest.

Such a normal and sane behavior. Imagine all the assistance such a crop could provide to the people looking for any way to make life a bit easier. The powers that be already invested in certain options and to oppose those was to lose, outright and without a doubt, each and every time. But to simply strong arm a better product out of the free marketplace is Un-American. This is the land of the free. So best to hire an incorruptible baron like Anslinger, create a propaganda campaign with creative design and high-production value, and get people on your side to avoid messy conflict when they realize what they’ve lost.

When alcohol was outlawed medical prescriptions were issued for the banned substance. It was considered to have therapeutic qualities, and assist in treatment of some ailments. Now we live in a society where cannabis is outlawed, although often indulged in private as a small vice. If the federal government can not see fit to drop this prohibition, it must at least acknowledge the right to prescribe it in cases where doctors feel it would be effective. That’s the same treatment alcohol was given when it was a banned substance, frequently consumed outside of the law.

The greatest irony in a story bursting with them is that Anslinger’s imagery has become a favorite of cannabis supporters. Such bold statements, in contradiction with scientific data and agreed upon fact, make for good art. Or at least a decent addition to the college dorm room. It’s the last spiteful gesture to a man that set our laws back decades, put people in jail for minor possession, and did it for political gain. Your scare tactics don’t work anymore, we think there a mild joke.


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