Little Known Cannabis Facts – Show 67

Welcome back to Weeducated! It’s time for Little Known Cannabis Facts and I know it’s been forever since the last one, but we’re still continuing with our History of Cannabis Timeline. I want to do a quick recap because it’s been forever since our last one. We started this all the way back in 10,000 BC. We’ve talked about cannabis and the cavemen, the Scythian, the Egyptians, the assassins. We’ve talked about the first drug laws in the world and in America. We’ve talked about how for most of human history cannabis has been recognized as a beneficial and even necessary plant for humanity. It’s only within the last couple hundred years that we’ve treated it as the devil. There are some incredibly fascinating and important facts that anyone who considers themselves a cannabis advocate should know. If you haven’t heard the history to this point, I HIGHLY recommend going back and listening to the older episodes. You can hear all of them by going to lkf.weeducated.com.

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But, I digress. So, moving on….If you do somehow possess the memory of an elephant and remember the last episode, we left off in the 1930’s and 1940’s in America. We talked all about Harry Anslinger (the then head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics) and his campaign against musicians and even Hollywood. If you’ve been a fan of the show for a while now, you know Anslinger was a real peach.

Ok, I might have lied about part of that. He sucked. He sucked so hard. He singlehandedly did more to demonize marijuana than anyone else in American History. He rose up through the ranks via customs and eventually landed the director role for the newly formed FBN. His tenure in this role was largely defined by his approach to drug users. The whole idea that drug users should be “punished” originated with him and his office. Oh, side note, that old show, the untouchables? In real life, those were his agents. Zealots on a mission to eradicate the scourge of drugs and alcohol and their users. Anyway, Anslinger created policies and media campaigns against marijuana based on anecdotal information, bad science and a sense of self preservation. You see, his entire department and thus, his position of power, was all dependent on the “drug war”. We didn’t call it that back then, but that’s certainly where it originated.

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Now, he did this in the face of medical science. It might surprise you to know that originally in this country the American Medical Association OPPOSED the first legislation banning cannabis. Several states outlawed cannabis as part of their general poison laws and surprisingly, the AMA stood against these laws. Their stance was that cannabis was an incredibly helpful and useful plant with many positive qualities.

Now this is where we’re going to pick up this time. As I said, Anslinger never let a silly thing like Science stand in the way of his agenda and the 1950’s were no different. Also, let me set this up a bit….the 1950’s were riddled with crime, mostly of the organized variety. And unlike earlier in the century, most drug addiction wasn’t accidental. And a lot of the addiction was to heroin. AND we were smack dab in the middle of the Korean War and the cold war. Damn those commies. So Anslinger, true to form, capitalized on the fear associated with these issues.

Well, at least after the medical community stuffed him, that is. So here’s how it went…

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There was a new law proposal for the books, the Boggs Act. The Boggs act is where our current iteration of drug policy comes from. We started with a “war on drugs” and when that didn’t work well enough, we made harsher penalties and more extreme punishments. Enter the Boggs Act. It basically QUADRUPLED the penalties for drug possession and use (btw this is where the crazy shit like death penalties for cannabis originates). And of course, before its passage, there were hearings.

Ok, so anyone familiar with Anslinger knows he’s famous for lots of bullshit quotes, but one in particular, stands out. Here goes…”Marijuana, in its users, causes criminality, insanity and death.” He spouted this EVERYWHERE. It was submitted into evidence by him during the hearings for the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, the country’s first anti-marijuana law. And he used it over and over and over after that. In newspaper columns, in radio addresses, everywhere.

Here’s where things get interesting. So as part of the hearings for the Boggs Act, a doctor who ran one of the government’s narcotic rehabilitation facilities testifies and tosses Anslinger’s argument on its ass. He basically gets up on the stand and says, Ya…marijuana? Actually we KNOW it doesn’t cause criminality, insanity or death. Oh…and it’s also not addictive. We know that too.

So what’s Anslinger to do? He’s already been bitten by his own words once (ahem, insanity defense- if you don’t know what I’m talking about listen to past episodes. And believe me, it’s worth it..a government official even turns into a BAT because of cannabis). Anyway, so what is he to do? The whole argument he’s been making for years was just completely destroyed by a DOCTOR..a professional…someone you can trust. Well, this is Anslinger we’re talking about here so it barely even phased him. In fact, this one act…this one lie, has been perpetuated for the better part of seventy years. And it’s one of the most common misconceptions about cannabis today. The gateway theory.

That’s right. Anslinger is such a smooth operator, he gets up there and agrees with the doc… ok ok ok, maybe it doesn’t cause insanity and death, but I personally believe it has something in it that causes criminality…I’ve seen it. And maybe it isn’t addictive, but it is “the certain first step on the road to heroin addiction”. The end.

Yup. No science. Nothing to back this claim up..Nope. He doesn’t explain or back that up in any way. Just blatant uneducated opinion spouted as fact. Personal opinion presented as fact. And what’s wrong with that, after all? Who doesn’t want personal self-preserving opinions to shape our nation’s law and policies?

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*sigh* Ok, well that’s where I’m going to leave off but there’s more to this story. In fact, next time we’re going to be talking about how Anslinger capitalizes on the Cold War to further his anti-marijuana agenda. Yikes!

As always, all sources and references can be found by going to lkf.weeducated.com. Stick with us, we’ll be right back!

By rubylexi • March 5, 2015 • 12:00 am

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