By Joe Martino – Collective Evolution – June 6, 2018
To understand how cannabis became so stigmatized, you have to understand something about a plant that is very similar to cannabis but different enough that making it illegal would be preposterous: hemp.
If I told you there was a plant available to us today that could be grown in pretty much any soil, could thrive without the use of pesticides, and could be farmed with very little maintenance, and that this magical plant could be used for a very large number of necessities and goods we use today, but we are doing nothing about it, would you think to yourself, “Joe you must be high or on some other cheap drug”?
Well, I’m not high nor do I get high, but let me tell you, there is a plant available right now and it is often mistaken for marijuana, but it has capabilities that are beyond what you could imagine. It’s called hemp.
Right off the top, hemp looks very much like marijuana and is technically in the same family of plants. But unlike modern maryjane, it does not contain anywhere near the amount of THC needed for someone to get high if they were to smoke it. The funny thing is, in the United States, hemp is just as illegal to grow as marijuana is. But how can this be? If we can’t get high from it, then what’s the problem?
In the past, hemp was used for many things: clothes, cars, plastics, building materials, rope, paper, linens, food, medicine and so on. In fact, it used to be mandatory in the United States for farmers to grow hemp if they had the land. You can find out even more about hemp here.
The fact is, hemp was very popular throughout the 1800s and 1900s because it was incredibly useful and easy to grow, and its derived products were so long lasting. But one day that all changed; it became illegal and so did its friend cannabis (marijuana). How did this happen?
During Hoover’s presidency, Andrew Mellon became Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury and Dupont’s primary investor. He appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger, to head the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Secret meetings were held by these financial tycoons. Hemp was declared dangerous and a threat to their billion dollar enterprises. For their dynasties to remain intact, hemp had to go. This then led them to take an obscure Mexican slang word – ‘marihuana’ – and push it into the consciousness of America. The reason why they changed the name was because everyone knew of hemp and how amazing it was for the world. They would never be able to get away with banning hemp, so they used a name they knew no one would recognize.
Not long after this plan was set in place, the media began a blitz of ‘yellow journalism’ in the late 1920s and 1930s. Yellow journalism is essentially journalism where stories with catchy headlines are put into the mainstream media to get attention, yet these stories are not well researched or backed up. They are often used simply to sway public opinion. Many newspapers were pumping stories emphasizing the horrors and dangers of marihuana. The “menace” of marihuana made headlines everywhere. Readers learned that it was responsible for everything from car accidents to looser morals, and it wasn’t long before public opinion started to shape.
Next came several films like Reefer Madness (1936), Marihuana: Assassin of Youth (1935) and Marihuana: The Devil’s Weed (1936), which were all propaganda films designed by these industrialists to create an enemy out of marihuana. Reefer Madness was possibly the most interesting of the films, as it depicted a man going crazy from smoking marijuana and then murdering his family with an axe. With all of these films, the goal was to gain public support so that anti-marihuana laws could be passed without objection.
Have a look at the following regarding marihuana from The Burning Question, aka Reefer Madness:
- A violent narcotic
- Acts of shocking violence
- Incurable insanity
- Soul-destroying effects
- Under the influence of the drug he killed his entire family with an axe
- More vicious, more deadly even than these soul-destroying drugs (heroin, cocaine), is the menace of marihuana!
Unlike most films with a simple ending, Reefer Madness ended with bold words on the screen: TELL YOUR CHILDREN.
In the 1930s, things were different from today in significant ways. The population did not question authority or the media to the extent that we do now, and they did not have tools like the Internet to quickly spread information and learn about things that were happening. Most built their opinions and beliefs off of the news via print, radio, or cinema. As a result (and thanks to the explicit instruction of mainstream news), many people did tell their children about marihuana. Thus, public opinion about this plant was formed.
On April 14, 1937, the Prohibitive Marihuana Tax Law, the bill that outlawed hemp, was directly brought to the House Committee on Ways and Means. Simply put, this committee is the only one that could introduce a bill to the House floor without it being debated by other committees. At the time, the Chairman of the Ways and Means was Robert Doughton, who was a Dupont supporter. With vested interest, he insured that the bill would pass in Congress.