Anybody most probably knows that in the days we are living marijuana is still considered as a genuine dangerous drug. However, the first thought that each of us should have before even considering judging this plant, which, by the way, was socially accepted until the year 1930, is questioning the fact that it is not fair at all to consider it as dangerous as cocaine is, because this seems to be the tendency that some authorities have. This is precisely how many leaders explain why medical marijuana is not legal yet.
Who and why?
Many people are not aware, but when marijuana first became illegal, its effects were not the main reason due to which this happened. Up until the year 1930, Harry J. Anslinger, a prominent member of the Treasury Department in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, stated many times that cannabis does not represent a problem, it does not hurt people, and there no bigger absurdity than believing marijuana can make its consumers violent or aggressive in any way.
It seems that Anslinger suddenly changed his mind at the beginning of the years 1930 when the Department of Prohibition became useless once the alcohol prohibition was stopped. This is the main reason due to which he wanted to forbid a new substance so that his department can remain active and so he became the leading activist against marijuana. He gathered some inconsistent and contradictory evidence against marijuana, and he just ignored all the studies and proofs that showed the contrary.
So how did Anslinger did it?
In his “Anti-Marijuana” campaign, Anslinger gets to the head of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and so he uses his whole influence for forbidding marijuana consumption. He spread false and absurd rumors within that times’ media and, as a consequence, in the present social mentality.
In order to better understand the limit his absurdity reached, you should know that he told the false story according to which a particular citizen had killed his entire family under the influence of this “devil’s herb”, how he used to call it. In fact, this character was diagnosed years ago with a severe mental disease, and so Anslinger’s story about marijuana influencing his behavior has no sense at all.
Another unfortunate example he gave to emphasize the so-called harmful effects of marijuana was the one involving the jazz singer Billie Holiday. She was indeed addicted to heroin, an entirely different substance, and most sociologists firmly believe that it was a racial matter that pushed Anslinger to say such things. At that moment, he considered that the singer is the perfect target to be used to make his point about the “dangerous” marijuana. In fact, it was later on noticed that most of the articles which Anslinger published frequently contained racial reasons.
How did the public react?
As you might have already guessed, Anslinger’s stories had an enormous impact on the social mentality at that moment because people were quite naive and they were willing to believe anything. It was a sort of oppressed political method of becoming a leader. If you found the right way to scare people literally, you were bound to become a kind of leader because people believed in you, since you verbalized all their hidden fears.
The case with the citizen killing his whole family, being under the influence of marijuana, was a story that got into people’s heads. The entire American population was scared by the “Bloody Ax,” which, of course, the newspapers were frequently associating it with marijuana’s effects. This was the first thing that pushed authorities into forbidding cannabis consumption.
Another important aspect which had a lot to say in this forbidding marijuana matter had to do with a particular movie being screened at that time, called Reefer Madness. The film’s story intended to sort of “educate” people regarding the malefic effects that this devil’s herb, hence marijuana, can have on the brain. The essential idea they wanted to implement in people’s minds was that after just a joint, any adolescent could become a dancing gay hippie. Can you believe this? Can you just imagine how naïve people were at that time?
What are the consequences?
With the passing of time, Anslinger made his point, and people accepted the idea that marijuana is a dangerous drug. It was the natural and logical effect of not having enough access to certain information regarding the numerous benefits that marijuana can have on the human body’s health if used accordingly. Therefore, it is not very hard to see how media was able, through ought these whole years to just portray the worst image of this plant and the worrying thing is that this picture was maintained for so many years. It is like we haven’t even developed, it is more like we are falling back.
Even though at this moment, we have all the access to valuable information related to how marijuana can help us, there are still parts of the world where authorities just reject the idea, for their reasons, that this plant could indeed help their citizens. This is extremely unfortunate, since so many people dealing with so many severe diseases, such as cancer or epilepsy, get to spend enormous sums of money on useless therapies. But never lose hope, as they say, and let us remain confident that things will eventually take the right turn so that everybody will be able to make full use of this pant’s health benefits.