Lies, Damned Lies, and Marijuana

Lies, Damned Lies, and Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on July 18, 2007 at 19:58:08 PT
Los Angeles City Beat
Source: Los Angeles City Beat
Washington, DC -- Since March 2003, we have been listening to George W. Bush and his surrogates offer the American People a progression of reasons for invading the sovereign nation of Iraq and the resulting bloody mayhem. The rationales, the excuses, and the all too obvious lies have progressively eroded support for the war, until, as we move into the fifth year of the conflict, considerably less than a third of the country appears to believe a word that comes out of the White House. As wretchedly disastrous as the falsehoods about Iraq have proved to be – from WMDs to spreading the gospel of democracy – they can only pale in comparison to the lies that have been told about marijuana, if only by the duration of the deceit. 
Pity the generations of potheads, who – for three-quarters of a century – have been derided, damned, demonized, incarcerated, and even killed over a harmless herb, for a sequence of changing reasons, many of which are even less plausible than the ones our current president uses to justify having combat troops in Iraq. And while Bush had his entire crew, plus the whole PNAC neocon manifesto, to create his lies about Iraq, the decades of disinformation about pot can be traced back to a single individual. In 1930, a former railroad investigator, Harry J. Anslinger, was – via family connections– named director of a new division in the Treasury Department, known as the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, supposedly established to regulate the supply and taxation of cocaine and opiates. Anslinger, however, seemingly a full-blown megalomaniac, dreamed of a vast and all-powerful agency with police powers to rival J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, and set about creating exactly that. His strategy was simple but effective. He would instigate a public panic in which the innocuous drug marijuana would be mythologized as the root of all evil, and its eradication would become a matter of national security. Thus began one of the longest running exercises in state-sponsored mendacity in U.S. history. Plus, the demonizing of marijuana even had a practical side. Prior to heading the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Anslinger had been a prohibition agent. Alcohol prohibition was clearly going to be repealed in the next three years, and many of the bureau chief’s former colleagues would need jobs. Anslinger’s propaganda campaign was not subtle. He had enlisted the sensationalist aid of the Hearst newspaper chain and was also firmly backed by the pharmaceutical corporations. One of his more lurid harangues: “A gang of boys tear the clothes from two school girls and rape the screaming girls. A 16-year-old kills his entire family of five in Florida. In Colorado, a husband tries to shoot his wife, kills her grandmother instead, and then kills himself. Every one of these crimes had been proceeded [sic] by the smoking of one or more marijuana ‘reefers.’ Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.” This mythic doctrine was encapsulated in the 1936 kitsch movie classic Tell Your Children – later renamed Reefer Madness – in which dope leads to sexual frenzy, dementia, and finally, homicide. Today we laugh, and turn it into a musical. Under Anslinger it was a tool for producing an intoxicant police state that still flourishes.Anslinger was also extremely happy to play the most evil of race cards. “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers,” he pronounced. “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. Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” He even emphasized political horrors as “marijuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.” Anslinger ran the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962 – “drug czar” in everything but name for an unprecedented 32 years, during which his almost theological doctrine of marijuana being “evil” shaped all official attitudes. It was only after his retirement and the counter-culture’s massive embrace of pot in the 1960s – both for a recreational high and as an anti-authoritarian symbol – that it became obvious Anslinger’s crudity needed modification. Hundreds of thousands of kids were smoking dope, and yet the country had not been plunged into an orgy of rape and slaughter. But demands that pot should be legalized were met with the new argument that this was impossible because it was a “gateway drug.” Dubious government-sponsored studies claimed a majority of (sampled) junkies smoked dope before becoming addicted to heroin, and thus concluded, while marijuana might cause minimal harm, it was dangerous because it led to the use of harder drugs. And yet, applying the government’s own methodology to a wider range of intoxicants, it became apparent that the real gateway drugs used by most junkies prior to their addiction were – ta da! – beer and cigarettes. For a couple of minutes during the Carter administration, the chance of some nationwide decriminalization appeared distantly possible, but then the Iran hostage crisis ushered in the Reagan era with Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, and a total return to the Anslinger doctrine of the “evil weed.” The Federal Drug Administration issued a flat edict that “marijuana was of no medical benefit,” and maintained that position despite overwhelming evidence to contrary. Bush the Elder did everything he could to prove himself a valiant drug warrior, including invading Panama in what became know as the “biggest drug bust in history.” Even Bill (“I did not inhale”) Clinton did nothing to stop the Drug Enforcement Agency from making bizarre claims that marijuana potency had increased 10-, 20-, or 30-fold since the 1970s and was therefore a much more dangerous drug that must remain illegal. He also did nothing when, as individual states declared medical marijuana legal, the DEA stormed in, arresting cancer patients, growers, distributors, and closing legal cannabis clubs. Any mention of the Netherlands as a model for an alternative pot policy elicited knee-jerk fury from both Republicans and Democrats, who would bluster that the Dutch experience had been a complete disaster and Amsterdam was a hell of addiction. They seemed blind to the reality that the Dutch had achieved a healthy tolerance toward alternative lifestyles, were able to protect marijuana users from the marginalization that accompanies arrest and prosecution, and had created a separation between the retail markets for “soft” and “hard” drugs. Even when UCLA pulmonologist and marijuana expert Donald Tashkin, after conducting the largest study of its kind, unexpectedly concluded in 2006 that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, did not lead to lung cancer, and that the chemical THC might kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous, federal health and drug enforcement officials still used Tashkin’s earlier work on marijuana – that he now refuted – to make the case that the drug is dangerously carcinogenic and should remain illegal.After a lifetime spent with illegal weed and the lies and deceptions keeping it so, little hope can be extended for any sudden about-turn to sanity. Which is a pity, because the government’s lying stupidity over marijuana has alienated a whole stratum of citizens. And that’s the truth. Note: A history of federal confusion and persecution over the ‘evil weed’Related Articles:Regulating Reefer: Your Local Cannibisour Collectives: Los Angeles City Beat (CA)Author: Mick FarrenPublished: July 19, 2007Copyright: 2007 Southland PublishingContact: editor lacitybeat.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on July 19, 2007 at 14:08:55 PT
Considering the horrors, the sorrows,
the grief, regret, and death of life... one must find a way to not break down and give up when we have that sense of the horror and overwhelming uselessness of it all. It can seem that way sometimes. Most of us have experienced it. It's a grave state of mind.Where is help? That's why, I think, it really does make sense to call religion the opiate of the masses. Religion is yours for the taking. You don't have to import it from anywhere. A dulling and easing of the pain sometimes can prevent the counterproductive hysteria and overwhelming grief that can lay one's soul in a cold dark place. Opium is not available to the masses...but the few...and one must have an opiate of some kind, a distraction, a dulling, or lifting, sometimes, just a sense and hope of love, to just continue surviving it all.... until there is no more survival.Whatever it's all about...survival, and more, is what we should set ourselves to do. If we can't have the "more" right now...we must and should cling to the "survival". 
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Comment #7 posted by potpal on July 19, 2007 at 13:53:55 PT
la city beat
Seems much of the issue is about cannabis and cannabis prohibition...if you have been there yet...see link
LA City Beat
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Comment #6 posted by goneposthole on July 19, 2007 at 07:11:50 PT
Too far gone...
"The most passionate examination of the hashish trance will not teach us half as much about thinking (which is eminently narcotic), as the profane illumination of thinking about the hashish trance," he wrote. "The reader, the thinker, the flaneur, are types of illuminati just as much as the opium eater, the dreamer, the ecstatic. … Not to mention that most terrible drug ”ourselves” which we take in solitude." - Walter Benjamin have to think about that.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on July 19, 2007 at 06:39:46 PT
It's good to see you and thanks.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on July 19, 2007 at 06:38:37 PT
LA City Beat: Harvesting the Secret Gardens
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on July 19, 2007 at 04:23:19 PT:
Alienated more than a stratum of citizens
Alienated a stratum of voting citizens. Citizens whose demographics encompass just about every group in America. Cannabists would and could comprise the single largest voting bloc in America...if they'd become politically active. A prospect that frightens certain very authoritarian personages presently in power. They know what we could achieve if we wished; to prevent the kind of social pendulum swing that that activism would represent, a swing back that's been overdue for a couple decades, those authoritarians have sought to politically nullify cannabists by creating ever more oppressive and destructive laws meant to throttle our effectiveness at the voting booth. Get arrested, lose your ability to vote. It's extraordinarily effective at maintaining the status quo; combined with crooked voting machines, it's an almost perfect means of social control. Cannabists still able to vote (by virtue of not being caught) entering this arena en masse would throw that carefully constructed control scheme out the window. Their sheer numbers could over-ride any voting machine chicanery. But so long as they remain politically atomized, with no real leadership (a leadership organization would mount a voter registration drive to prove their seriousness), the authoritarians win. It's that simple. 
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Comment #2 posted by dankhank on July 18, 2007 at 22:19:29 PT
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Comment #1 posted by ron on July 18, 2007 at 21:09:59 PT
The Ballad of Harry Anslinger
                                                                                                                                             Come gather round you people and a story I will tellIt’s about Harry Anslinger a name you should know wellThe father of our marijuana laws that have brought on so much sorrow and painHe was a liar, a bigot, a bully, and a jerk and everything he touched, he stained Married into a banking corporation owned by the richest family in the whole landThey made him the first drug czar and then they told him they wanted hemp bannedOh Harry Anslinger  on the day of your birthA whole lot of grief came to this earthBack then most people didn’t know that marijuana was hemp, a plant that's been useful for thousands of yearsIt was used for rope, clothing & medicine & it was used without abuse & without any fearsBut Harry's in-laws were bankrolling synthetics & there was no money to be made if a weedThat grew in the roadside ditches was allowed to compete with their greedAlcohol, tobacco – the drug companies too - hemp was a threat to all kinds of business So they financed a smear campaign to scare white Americans & that's how we got into this messOh Harry Anslinger  all the troubles that you’ve causedMillions have suffered because of your laws      Well, Harry got a law passed thru congress,  sneakily, behind everyone’s backsCopying Hitler's tactics of blaming everything on Jews, Harry scapegoated Mexicans & BlacksFirst he said smoking it made them uppity & then he said it made them wildNo one was safe near men with reefers - especially women, who were likely to be defiledAnd he really hated jazz musicians - he thought that they were all cheatsSaid smoking grass made time... slow...down... so they were able to work in a whole lot of extra beatsOh Harry Anslinger  why couldn’t our parents seeRight thru your racist hypocrisy        Now you know all this happened before I was born and that’s a long time ago indeedAn awful long time for Harry’s loathsome prejudices to still be the official creed It’s hard to believe they’re still fighting his drug war and still promoting his old liesIf they really cared about our children, you’d think they’d open up their eyes  But they never even talk about him now. I’ll bet you most of them don’t even know his nameLike German campguards they just soldier on, when they should be hanging their heads in shame Oh Harry Anslinger, why couldn’t you have been bornIn some far off time just shucking corn     Oh Harry Anslinger,  even though you’re dead and goneYour legacy of slime   keeps    oozing    onAvailable at      
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