I bet this is a question you’ve pondered at some point in your life: Why is weed illegal? I mean, why cigarettes and alcohol are legal while marijuana is forbidden in the majority of the world?
One would assume that our decision to ban cannabis was based on scientific research indicating that it is indeed, more harmful than other drugs. After all, a country’s drug policy should be run by doctors, right?
Yes, it should, however, it’s not the case here. Because the whole ban on marijuana, just like the ban on Absinthe we talked on a previous article, was based on a tremendous lie. Here’s the interesting story. (the article continues after the ad)
In 1929, a man called Harry J. Anslinger was appointed as the head of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics in Washington, DC. At the time, prohibition was already proven to be a major disaster: criminals took over entire neighborhoods and alcohol was controlled by mobsters thus becoming more poisonous than it ever was.
So when the prohibition ended in 1933, Anslinger found himself in charge of a department that had nothing to do. Up until that time, he often told that cannabis didn’t harm people and the idea that it makes people violent was “an absurd fallacy”.
But then, he suddenly changed his mind. He started campaigning against cannabis explaining to the public that turns people into “wild beasts”. By going through several stages of “delirious rage” and “losing your connected thoughts” cannabis smokers would finally reach the end-point: “insanity”.
When a boy called Victor Licata killed his entire family with an axe, Anslinger used the case and claimed that this was going to happen to all the people that smoked “the demon weed”. The case got so much popularity and the public was terrified.
So, what evidence did he have? Well, not much. When he wrote to 30 leading scientists asking them if marijuana was dangerous and if a ban should be implemented, 29 of them said no. Only one said yes and Anslinger presented him to the world. The press – who was still obsessed with the Licata’s case, cheered them on.
In that panic situation, marijuana was banned – not because of scientific evidence, but because a man said so. It’s important here to note what do data have to tell about drugs:
“Alcohol kills 80,000 people a year. Tobacco kills 480,000. Marijuana kills no one.”
After the ban on its own soil, America pushed marijuana ban on foreign countries. The countries that didn’t comply, such as Mexico, felt the wrath of the menace: the US cut off the supply of all painkillers to Mexico and people were dying in hospitals. With regret, Mexicans complied with the new “international law” as most countries in the world did.
Today, most civilized countries have realized their mistake and started decriminalizing marijuana, however, we still have a long way to go. It was time we listened to the science, right?
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: The Real Reason Why Absinthe Was Banned For 100 Years
Photo: Wikimedia (Fair use), StayRegular / Pixabay
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: Why Is Marijuana Banned? The Real Reasons Are Worse Than You Think | The Sinister Reason Weed is Illegal