A Brief Look at the History of Cannabis Prohibition

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. 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.”


Harry J. Anslinger.

This is a quote from Mr. Harry J. Anslinger, quite possibly the most influential person in bringing forth the criminalization of cannabis. In other words, the bane of many of our existences. This isn’t an exaggerated quote, and is one among many in the same spirit and tone spewed by Mr. Anslinger, who essentially equates cannabis to the religious equivalent of a demonic sacrament.

When taking even a quick look at cannabis prohibition, if you start towards the beginning with Harry and pay attention to how racially charged his attempts really were, it’s hard to not immediately begin questioning the other influences that led to such a randomly unjustifiable prohibition.

Other influences of course like this, which was published in the San Francisco Examiner in the mid 1930s’:

“Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum… Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him….”


Hash, it'll make you insane!

Hash, it’ll make you insane!

…right. So hash makes murderers of us all; I guess that explains all the homicides at Woodstock, and the insanity that ensues at Seattle Hempfest every year (I couldn’t hit a harder sarcasm note).

It’s hard to take the prohibition of an item seriously with such hilariously wrong information used to help sway that decision.

The truth is that this is a small example of the overall plethora of propaganda instigated by the government and prohibitionists (who can forget the nosy dog). However, they’ve made mistakes in maintaining a consistency in their lies regarding cannabis and hemp (the government supports Hemp for Victory, but doesn’t allow the industrial farming of hemp – they’ll reschedule compounds of cannabis for big pharma medication, yet claim it has no medical value…contradictions galore).

The exact history behind our current cannabis policies all stem from these sort of outlandish claims – far too many to delve into in one article. Maybe some could connnect this with the lack of science for their time, but it’s clearly more deceitful. In 1944, a report prepared by the New York Academy of Medicine declared that cannabis did not have all of the violent and negative connotations that Anslinger so proudly proclaimed in his mission of deception. Anslinger, of course, went on the offensive, threatening the persecution of any doctor that attempted his or her own studies on the benefits and possible effects of cannabis.

Government officials pushing prohibition have made a habit of ignoring the facts.

It’s well known at this point that President Nixon commissioned a group specifically to handle the issue of examining current cannabis laws (this of course being right before he declared his war on drugs). When the commission came back declaring that cannabis should be decriminalized, stating: “The use of drugs for pleasure or other non-medical purposes is not inherently irresponsible”. Nixon not only ignored the study, but fired those involved, acting as if it never happened, regardless of the fact that he commissioned them himself.


Current DEA Chief Michele Leonhart continues the guise of no medical value for cannabis.

Now zoom to today, after years of these types of denials of justice and science, and where are we? Barely better off – at least in regards to our government’s agenda towards cannabis. The DEA continuing to blow smoke out of their asses by declaring cannabis to have no medicinal value is the epitome of ignorance and deception, and is the result of decades of propaganda, misinformation, fear campaigns and a denial of reality.

All of this being said, we’ve not but scratched the surface of the many corrupt moves that have been needed to maintain such lies that would punish millions for a non-lethal plant.

When forming your opinion on cannabis prohibition, and when you’re trying to educate your friends, family, etc., on the necessity for change – make sure to take a look at where it all began. It can be quite surprising.


1 comment

  1. Good summary 🙂 You guys might be interested in the series I’m currently writing on prohibition, which is over here. Sorry for the fly-by, am on the way to a rehearsal 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.