“Reefer Makes Darkies Think They’re as Good as White Men”.
Above is an actual, non-altered quote from Harry J. Anslinger, who was a government official for decades. Anslinger’s successful crusade against cannabis in the 1930s makes him easily the top reason cannabis was made illegal; a policy that obviously stands to this day.
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers”, Anslinger said shortly prior to cannabis being made illegal. “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.”
At the time it was a popular sentiment that cannabis made people, especially African Americans, violent. According to an article published by 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”.
Another popular quote at the time, published in a separate newspaper, stated:
“Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”
Clearly from the above-mentioned quotes, and many that we aren’t mentioning, cannabis prohibition began as a racism-fueled policy. Unfortunately, it remains that way to this day. Current marijuana enforcement finds minorities arrested and charged for cannabis at a drastically higher rate than white people; this is despite them statistically not using the plant at a higher rate.
On top of this, government officials, such as Maine Governor Paul LePage, face little backlash when saying things like out of state drug dealers, “with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty”, are impregnating the “young white” girls of Maine (this is a comment he made last year, not decades ago). Racism clearly continues to drive marijuana prohibition – as it always has – and denying that would be quite ridiculous.
All-in-all, regardless of how someone feels about legalizing marijuana, it needs to be understand that if it wasn’t for blatant racism, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, as cannabis would have never been outlawed in the first place.