Many people have been asking for quite some time why cannabis is illegal. Why would a harmless and beneficial plant cause thousands of people to become incarcerated for its possession?
While most just assume that there has to be a scientific evidence that backs the American governments claims of its “destructive qualities.” Others simply take them for their word, and never push for further information. Then, there is the rest of the population that knows that it is an innocent herb, however, feel powerless to do anything about its incrimination.
If you look back through history and land in the 1930’s you can begin to see a puzzle form together with various pieces. This was the time period in which marijuana was banned, and it also happens to be a time in which alcohol prohibition was ending and the department of prohibition was left task-less.
Harry Anslinger, the head of the department began twiddling his thumbs in anticipation of some sort of purpose for his job. Until this point, he had been quite strong in his opinion that marijuana was harmless. According to him, “there is no more absurd fallacy” than the possibility that marijuana made people violent.
Of course, with nothing more for his department to do, he then made a complete 360. Now, he had a new opinion, and he began to push his beliefs into the public eye.
His new statement was that marijuana would push you into a “delirious rage.” After this began to take hold, you would have dreams that would overcome you that were of “an erotic character.” At this point, a loss of power would take place for connected thought. In the substances final moments, it would take push you to an inevitable ending of “Insanity.”
He directed his audience to one case in particular. Victor Lacata, a younger male from Florida, murdered his family with an ax. Anslinger took this case and ran with it, telling the American people that if you smoked marijuana, this is what would happen. Due to this attention, the case became notorious, and parents throughout the nation were crippled in fear.
Anslinger had no scientific basis for his claims at all. At the beginning of his tirade against pot, he wrote to thirty scientists and asked if marijuana should be banned due to harmful effects. Twenty-nine of them wrote back with an answer of NO. Choosing to use the one scientist out of thirty’s opinion, Anslinger then reported the answer to the American public.
With the American public still in a shock embraced mindset due to the Victor Lacata murders, the nation took the scientist’s word of advice and then in a panic-stricken state decided to ban marijuana. The U.S pushed for other countries to follow suit, despite the fact that many other nations disagreed with the new American drug policy. Mexico stood firm on their stance that doctors should be in charge of the drug policies in their nation.
The U.S became frustrated with Mexico and cut off Mexico’s supply to painkillers. In turn, many people died in a state of suffering in Mexican hospitals. Mexico then gave in to the American goverment and started a drug war of their own.
Michael Ball, a leading American doctor, wrote to Anslinger in a state of confusion. In his letter, he explained that he had used the substance while in school, however, he had only become drowsy. He stated that maybe some people did experience insanity, but encouraged scientific studies to be used to find out for sure.
In Anslinger’s reply, he firmly stated, “The marijuana evil can no longer be temporized with,” and refused to fund any independent science.
Our modern society, many decades later still continues with a drug policy that was based on the ax-murder of a family carried out by Victor Lacata. What is the worst part about this, is that since 1933 when the murder took place, Lacata’s psychiatric file was exposed, and in doing so, it came to light that the murderer never used marijuana.
Of course, many studies have also verified the fact that marijuana does not cause people to go into insane rampages that cause them to murder their families. On the contrary, marijuana is actually prescribed in various American states to treat anxiety. Unfortunately, there are still more states that continue with Anslinger’s outdated policies that hold the use or possession of the herb as a criminal offense. With so many studies that indicate that this old policy is unsubstantiated, wouldn’t it seem to be time to overturn such policies and legalize the herb which has been so wrongfully demonized? Many would agree that its time.