Cannabis and America: A Finished Paper

Discussion in 'General' started by infiniteawesome, Mar 26, 2006.

  1. Ok, i don't know if this constitutes two threads, but I'd figure I'd comprise my paper into one cohesive document:

    Cannabis in America

    Cannabis has rooted itself in nearly every region of the world and that region’s history. America is not excluded from this. One may wonder why, in modern day society we condemn recreational cannabis consumption rather than the far more hazardous alcohol and tobacco; why we condemn medicinal cannabis in favor of far less effective and dangerous drugs, such as aspirin, Ritalin, or Adderal. The answer lies within the analogues of American history, politics, economics, and media. For it was an American whose advocacy for cannabis prohibition that spread it to every corner of the globe, but it was also one of the first Americans who proclaimed cannabis to be of extreme benefit to the American peoples:

    <DIR><DIR>"Make the most you can of the Indian hemp seed and sow it everywhere."-George Washington 1794

    </DIR></DIR>Hemp and American History

    The industrial aspects of the Cannabis plant have been recognized since the expansion of the Roman Empire, which citizens and soldiers mainly used the broken up fibrous stalks as a form of rope. As is presented in Martin Booth’s Book, Cannabis: A History, one finds that hemp was long spread after the Roman Empire’s vast use of the plant as an industrial crop. By the time the seventeenth century rolled around, hemp was found in some form or another throughout Europe and even in some parts of Asia. Most of it came from Russia, which, at the time, produced well over ninety percent of England’s hemp.

    The hemp plant was successfully introduced to natives in South America by a conquistador (Pedro Cuadrado) serving with Cortes. It was very prevalent by 1550, by which time the euphoric properties of the plant were discovered by the Native Laborers, whose use of the drug fueled their masters’ fears that it would inspire rebellion in its user. Thusly, hemp production was limited so that the availability of the drug was less prevalent. Interestingly enough, Chile became a commercial success for hemp, and the laborers there did not show an interest in the drug due to the abundance of erythroxylon coca, which would, in 1859, be discovered to contain the stimulant, cocaine.

    The prevalence of hemp in the New World upon its discovery, was not without occasional mention. Indeed, Native American clay pipes were more than often found with the residue of burnt cannabis flowers in them. Moreover, hemp was said to clothe the many natives of the North Eastern areas of the Americas, which would eventually become New York.

    When the English came to the conclusion that the Americas were prime ground for production of cash crops, hemp was one of three that came into demand, the other two being tobacco and flax. By order of King James I in 1611, the English colonies were to produce vast quantities of hemp and flax. The settlers of such colonies as Jamestown, were loath to plant hemp, as it brought in less money than tobacco, but nonetheless complied as they had already agreed to do so in accordance with a contract signed with the Virginia Company in 1607.

    Hemp continued to play a large role in early American industry, though not as big as flax or tobacco. The euphoric properties were rarely if ever discovered during this time due to the fact that hemp was usually harvested before the flowering tops could mature to produce the psychoactive compound, THC (though one can be relatively sure that a few plants did flower and a few individuals, such as George Washington, are believed to have discovered its euphoric properties). It was inevitable, perhaps, that two of the founding fathers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both landowning farmers, would have come in contact with the Cannabis plant. They even rejoiced in its many uses:

    <DIR><DIR>"Jefferson, who preferred growing hemp to tobacco, produced his own cloth from hemp grown on his estate, Monticello: by 1815, his slaves were producing 2000 yards per annum, although some of this was made with wool and cotton."-Martin Booth

    </DIR></DIR>Hemp was used as cloth, rope, and food right up until the end of the American Civil War, by which time the steel industry had well replaced the need for hemp rope. Various Grain Cereals had replaced the hemp seed as a form of food. Cotton had replaced hemp as a form of clothing as it was more comfortable to wear and becoming more readily available to the general masses. Thusly, hemp disappeared from the mainstream industry until the early twentieth century. Cannabis, however, would not disappear.

    Early Cannabis Prohibition

    Due to the vast population of Cannabis plants across the globe for industrial uses, it is a wonder that we don’t see them off the side of the road, popping up in our gardens, forests, and parks. Indeed, the term "weed" is a commonly used term for Cannabis due to the fact that it acts very similar to a weed in a garden as its population, when cultivated in vast numbers, is hard to control. As hemp disappeared from the marketplace, the new drug, "marihuana", a term used by Mexican Laborers to refer to cannabis, became more prevalent during the late 1800s.

    Due to the mass racism and xenophobic paranoia that plagued American society during the 19<SUP>th</SUP> century, any and all forms of drug use were considered barbaric and inferior in many ways to the European Alcohol and the American Tobacco. The Chinese immigrants were being condemned for their opium addictions with migrant workers immigrating in 1849 (with a prohibition on opium being put into effect as early as 1875). Cocaine use became more prevalent amongst African slaves, which was said to incite them to violence and sexual promiscuity and was thusly feared by the white populace.

    Cocaine, however, was not the only intoxicant that came with the Africans over to America. They also brought cannabis. "Dagga" as the Africans termed it, was a sacred plant amongst various tribes throughout Southern and Western Africa. Its use was saved for various religious rites and medicinal uses, however, and it was rarely used recreationally, with the exception of the Hottentot Tribe. Even the Natives of the American west, who grew cannabis for religious purposes, far preferred the mescaline containing cactus, peyote, as well as psilocybin mushrooms and salvia divinorum.

    While cannabis use was not looked highly upon by the white population of the nineteenth century, it was tolerated due to the overwhelming amount of opium and cocaine. These drugs were slowly spreading to the lower-class white laborers, and were considered by the turn of the century to be a vast and almost epidemic problem. Also, the Native American use of peyote and other drugs was prevalent in discussion. Thusly, cannabis was put out of the people’s minds as other problems were of more immediate concern.
    When Mexican Laborers flooded into the American workforce in the early twentieth century, however, cannabis use suddenly became the concern of various American labor unions, which saw the Mexicans, their willingness to work for cheap wages, and their use of marijuana as a threat to the American workforce. It was rumored that marijuana gave the Mexican workers an ungodly amount of strength and allowed them to work for many days without sleep. This, of course, was a lie. Due to the lack of knowledge concerning cannabis amongst the white population, however, cannabis was long considered a barbaric stimulant.

    In 1914, a by-law was passed in El Paso, Texas prohibiting the possession and sale of marijuana after a serious fight had broken out involving a Mexican laborer, who had been under the influence of cannabis at the time. El Paso, Texas was not viewed as exactly an upstanding white community, and thusly, the law was viewed as a way of controlling the "riff raff" that inhabited the area. In truth, it was a way of controlling the immigration of Mexican laborers. The negative consensus regarding Cannabis grew steadily from state to state during the early 1900s, usually in regards to the Africans or the Mexicans (with the exception of the white population of California, who disliked the Hindus, who used cannabis as a form of religious sacrament).

    Despite the negative views on cannabis, after World War I, use soon spread to the youthful, with no exception of the young white populace. Perhaps due to the up and coming music genre known as jazz. Jazz culture, while mainly comprised of young African Americans, was becoming popular amongst small groups of young white males. Along with their music, came marijuana, which was claimed by some to aid in the writing and creation of music. Nevertheless, cannabis was viewed as a vice that would have to be eradicated. This was reinforced, of course, by the Volstead Act of 1919, which, when passed by Congress, created the legal means by which the Eighteenth Amendment could be passed. I am referring, of course, to the prohibition of alcohol.

    With one of America’s longest standing vices/traditions being called into question, it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to point an accusing finger at cannabis. This somebody was Harry J. Anslinger.

    Anslinger and the Drug War


    Harry J. Anslinger (1892-1975) first gains noted mention upon his appointment to the head of the foreign control section of the Prohibition Unit in 1926, promoted assistant commissioner in 1929. Upon the founding of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in 1930, conceived by a Republican Congressman, Stephen G. Porter, Anslinger was appointed the first commissioner of the FBN due to a connection his wife had with the Secretary of Defense, Andrew Mellon, who was her uncle. Anslinger was briefed to "supervise, regulate and enforce the law concerning both licit and illicit habit-forming drugs within the USA." (Martin Booth, Cannabis: A History).

    Due to Anslinger’s rivalry with FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover over publicity attention, Anslinger created a campaign within the media to demonize marijuana in the public’s eye, referring to it as the "Killer Weed" in various newspaper articles. While much of the populace played into the fears spread by Anslinger regarding marijuana, it did not stir up the media enough to draw attention away from Hoover, due to the fact that Anslinger mainly arrested uninteresting individuals by comparison.

    Despite this, however, many states did take up the call and set about putting up restrictions on marijuana use, thirty-eight of which made cannabis illegal under the Uniform State Narcotics Act. This support was mainly fueled by racist feelings towards the Mexican migrant workers coming in during the depression and Anslinger’s demonization of the drug.

    With the prohibition of cannabis on the rise and the prohibition of alcohol still in effect, organized crime was at an all time high. Not only at a speakeasy could one obtain alcohol, but the Jazz players there made cannabis available as well. By the time that the Volstead Act was repealed in 1933, cannabis use had spread to some of the upper and middle white class who had visited the speakeasies. Brewers and distillers, coming back into the fray of American business, were concerned that the easily grown cannabis would put a dent in its profits due to this unprecedented popularity. Meanwhile, Anslinger was facing the threat of losing his position in the FBN because of President Roosevelt’s New Deal calling into question favoritism within the government. Anslinger was saved, however, by his support base within the media, and remained with his job position in tact. He continued to demonize marijuana with more fervor than before.

    Anslinger began to use scaremonger tactics, attributing violent crimes to marijuana use, though no scientific connection was ever made to back up his argument. Interestingly enough, Anslinger would appear upon the controversial scene of hemp production as well. In 1919, a George W. Schlichten patented the most efficient form of hemp production called the decorticator, which worked efficiently at the industrial level. The decorticator, was soon realized to be a threat to the lumber and paper industry, as it could easily out-produce them with renewable, fast growing hemp. The environmental implications of this are only now becoming apparent as the lumber industry continues to eat away at our forests.

    Between 1935 and 1937, William Randolph Hearst and Lammont Du Pont (head of the multinational pharmaceutical and petrochemical conglomerate) persistently lobbied Herman Oliphant, chief counsel to the US Treasury Department regarding the limitation and elimination of cannabis, in possible hopes of eliminating the hemp industry in the process.

    In 1937, Anslinger was called in by the US Treasury department to confer on the possibility of drafting a bill against marijuana. Anslinger used every form of lie and story he could against cannabis, and in the end, was able to convince them to support the Marijuana Tax Act, which put a punitive transfer tax on marijuana. Only a few individuals spoke out against Anslinger at the conference of 1937, one of which was Ralph Loziers of the National Oil Seed Institute, who claimed that the properties of the hemp seed were too valuable as a food source to eliminate. Only one person, however, was in full opposition to the Marijuana Tax Act. This man was Dr. William C. Woodward of the American Medical Association (AMA) who claimed that the meeting was biased and that, while marijuana use was a possible problem, was not as serious a threat as Anslinger claimed. When Congress met to confer on passing the bill, a Texan Democrat asked what the AMA official had to say in concerns to it. A Democrat who was obviously for the bill, lied, saying: "Their doctor Wentworth came down here. They support this bill one hundred per cent." President Roosevelt signed the Marijuana Tax Act on October 1<SUP>st</SUP>, 1937.

    The Marijuana Tax Act did little to suppress the small groups of immigrants and poor laborers from consuming cannabis. Even with the increase in the FBN’s budget, Anslinger’s agents were still too few in number to control cannabis when their attention was more focused on the control of opium and cocaine. Instead, the act decimated the Hemp industry and prevented Schlichten’s decorticator from reaching mass production.

    Hemp made a short revival in American industry when the Philippines came under Axis control during World War II, eliminating a portion of America’s fiber source. A "Grow Hemp for Victory" campaign began, encouraging farmers to grow industrial hemp. Farmer’s and their sons were exempt from military service if hemp was one of their major crops. Germany also employed similar propaganda strategies in regards to hemp when their supplies from Russia ceased. Hilariously enough, a short film entitled "Hemp for Victory" was produced during this time by the United States Agricultural Department, in which one can enjoy a happy tune praising hemp’s many industrial aspects and uses. This campaign, of course, ended once World War II was over.

    There were those who questioned Anslinger’s tactics in concerns to marijuana. Fiorello ‘Frank’ Laguardia, the mayor of the city of New York, became determined to discover the reality of marijuana’s effects in 1938. With the full co-operation of the New York City Police Department (NYCPD), Laguardia conducted a series of scientific and sociological tests to surmise the health and socio-psychological effects of marijuana, which proved it to be harmless and relatively safe.

    Anslinger, enraged at the findings of these studies, was unsuccessful in his attempt to censor the publication in American Journal of Psychiatry entitled "The Psychiatric Aspects of Marihuana Intoxication" in 1942. The publication had disproved many of Anslinger’s statements regarding Marijuana.
    <DIR><DIR>"From the study as a whole, it is concluded that marihuana is not a drug of addiction, comparable to morphine, and that if tolerance is acquired, this is of a very limited degree. Furthermore, those who have been smoking marihuana for a period of years showed no mental or physical deterioration which may be attributed to the drug."-Martin Booth (Cannabis: A History) an excerpt taken from the above-said publication.

    </DIR></DIR>The newly constituted United Nation’s narcotics division, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, concluded, based on Laguardia’s findings, that no further investigation need be made into cannabis. This was much to Anslinger’s discontent, as the publication made him look foolish. Anslinger decided to focus his attention on cannabis and it’s association with modern musicians, whom he believed to be one of the major reasons for marijuana’s popularity.

    By the time World War II ended, Anslinger had done little to justify the size of the FBN’s budget, so he created more lies regarding marijuana. In 1949, Anslinger promoted the FBN budget in the presence of the US Congress Ways and Means Appropriation Committee. He stated that cannabis use had become more expansive due to the popularity of Jazz and their marijuana using musicians, of whom he referred to, saying: "and I am not speaking about the good musicians, but the jazz type." This did little to increase Anslinger’s popularity in the music industry. Louis Armstrong and Gene Krupa were two of the most well known individuals tried and convicted for marijuana possession during Anslinger’s investigative campaign into the Jazz subculture. Despite the busting of these two stars, however, Anslinger’s tactics generally turned up very little actual arrests, as the act of dealing and purchasing drugs is a victimless crime and hard to trace.

    Anslinger also employed a new lie that has manifested itself in today’s anti-drug campaigns. Due to the test results of Laguardia’s research, Anslinger decided to defend his position on marijuana by publishing his views on it in the context of heroin, a new form of opium that is still the most addictive substance known to man. Anslinger claimed that users of cannabis would all eventually try heroin and become addicted to this far more dangerous drug. This argument would eventually evolve into what is known today as the "Gateway Theory" which claims that the use of weak drugs such as cannabis leads to the use of stronger, harder drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. There is no scientific data that supports such a relationship.

    Anslinger also made it a point to associate drugs with organized crime, which at the time was also associated with Communism. This scare tactic was very effective as after Anslinger made this connection, the conversation of drug use and addiction was considered taboo, and very little scientific research was done to question Anslinger’s comments. Professor Alfred Lindesmith, a sociologist working at the University of Indiana, however, pushed for more humane treatment of drug addicts, whom he claimed were more psychologically troubled individuals than criminals. His voice, unfortunately, was silenced as Anslinger made many attempts to find or invent reasons to arrest Lindesmith. While Lindesmith was never arrested, he found it hard to rally his friends to his cause probably due to threats made to them by the FBN.
    By the mid fifties, Anslinger’s tactics had still only turned up small results in relation to marijuana trafficking, and his concerns turned to a new generation of music: rock n’ roll. As rock n’ roll spread to America’s youth culture, so did marijuana. Meanwhile, speed, a chemically synthesized amphetamine, was becoming popular amongst rock n’ roll’s musicians, and took up the interests of the FBN.

    Despite the appearance of new and more dangerous drugs, Anslinger still used marijuana as a proponent for the continuation of funding for the FBN. In 1954, Anslinger forced the UN into an agreement that cannabis had no medicinal value using the threat that if reluctance was shown in regards to the agreement, that the USA would veto any forthcoming decisions. This propelled Anslinger’s further proposal for international prohibition of cannabis, which would be realized in 1967 at the UN Single Convention, five years after Anslinger’s retirement from the FBN.

    At this point in time, drug use, marijuana aside, had become prevalent in America. While marijuana had been popular during the thirties and more prevalent during the forties, the sixties and seventies brought around its widespread use by most of mainstream America. The popularization of marijuana has a great deal to do with the history of American sociology. As the youth of the fifties grew up and began to question the reasoning behind America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, questions about various governmentally infringed injustices, marijuana policies included in the debate, began to arise. Vietnam also played a part in the spread of marijuana use, as it was used by most of the soldiers present in Vietnam to calm their nerves and further accept the horrific situations that they were forced to deal with. In addition, said soldiers who were discharged or had completed their service, brought back marijuana and cannabis seeds with which to start a source of income upon their return to U.S. soil. No longer was the FBN arresting Mexican Migrant workers or African American Jazz musicians, or even Rock n’ Roll stars, they were arresting otherwise law-abiding young white Americans.

    In 1969, Life magazine published an article entitled, "Marijuana: the law vs. 12 million people," which claimed that nearly twelve million Americans had smoked pot. This year was also the year that Richard Nixon became president. Next to Anslinger, Nixon is perhaps the most prevalent person in American history to demonize marijuana. Nearly two years after his election, Nixon proclaimed a "War on Drugs," declaring the current state of drug use in America as constituting a threat to national security

    Shortly after Nixon’s election, Operation Intercept was initiated. Operation Intercept was conceived as being a preventative measure by which marijuana would be intercepted as it flowed into the United States from the U.S. Mexican border. A complete failure in retrospect, Operation Intercept did less to prevent drug trafficking, and did more to further weaken international relations with the Mexican citizens, and lowered Nixon’s approval ratings among Mexican American immigrants.

    The vast unpopularity of the United States Government in its failure to control drugs via harsh penalties and preventative measures became very apparent by 1969. So much so, in fact, that in 1970, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, created by a series of Congressional committees, "removed mandatory minimum sentences and reduced possession of marijuana to the level of a misdemeanor."(Martin Booth) Part of this Act called for the creation of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, later known as the Shafer Commission, which was to investigate claims concerning marijuana within the context of the past fifty years.

    In its final report in 1973, the Shafer Commission concluded that the problems associated with marijuana had been grossly overstated and that the laws and penalties regarding possession should be reconsidered at great length. Nixon, who had hand picked nine out of the thirteen commissioners with the intent of creating a biased report, was enraged that his corrupt tactic had backfired on him. He allegedly never read the report. That same year, Nixon combined the numerous governmental agencies involved in drug prevention and drug law enforcement into one organization known as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which is still in operation today.

    Cannabis and Today


    So what now? Cannabis, from this point in history forward, continues to predominate as the most widely used illicit substance in America. So much so in fact that presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter are suspected of use and it can be generally assumed that our two most recent presidents (Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr.) have tried marijuana. The injustice of its continued prohibition is perhaps the most obvious manifestation of corporate influence over governmental decision making. As I have presented to you, hemp played a formidable part in early American Industry and was cornered out of the Industrial market due to the rising lumber, paper, and clothing industries. Thanks to other countries’ more lax views on the industrial production of hemp, cannabis has been found to be able to produce not only fibrous products, but the means to create an alternative and easily renewable source of fuel that causes minimal damage to the environment. In addition to this, plastics have been recently extracted from the hemp plant, producing an alternative to standard acrylic plastics.

    Our United States Government has thrown away a good deal of money researching cannabis in an attempt to justify its extremely huge annual budget pertaining to the continued existence of the DEA and their seemingly endless War on Drugs. These studies, however, have been proven, time and again, to contradict the myths demonizing marijuana, and often conclude that cannabis is far less harmful than the legal alcohol and tobacco.

    Despite all this, marijuana is still illegal. It is thanks to the oil and gas companies of today, who propagate wars in the name of money, oil, and pollution that cannabis is still illegal. It is thanks to the lumber and plastic industries, which continue to remove entire forests so that we can continue to have pulp based products when we could have the same exact products, which would cause far less harm to the environment if they were simply made out of hemp. It is thanks to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that we have to thank for the lack of cannabis seeds in our health food markets and more importantly, cannabis in our medical facilities. It is thanks to George Bush Jr. who handed out fifty billion dollars to the DEA to fight its drug war this year. And finally, it is thanks to you and me, the American people, who have remained silent on this topic for far too long, that this injustice continues to run rampant and unaccounted for.

     
  2. shit son nice
     
  3. read some of it. Pretty intense.
     
  4. Good shit. Covers everything pretty much.

    Is that for school or something?
     
  5. yeh, is fo skoo.
     
  6. summary? haha... just wanted to post so i remember to check it out when i can focus on reading...if size matters, i'm sure it's a brilliant paper
     
  7. that paper is very well written, its just filled to the brim with great info. rep+ to you for this, good sheeeit.
     
  8. nice work. ive gotten alot of info from some books i have. hope u get an A :D

    edit:: must spread more rep before giving u more... :p
     
  9. lol, sorry I was stupid tired last time I posted up there.

    ANYWHO, yeh, i have to say i'm pretty proud of this paper, if I can expand upon it later on, I might try and print it out and hand it out, but it's so long even xeroxing the whole thing might be cumbersome on my wallet.
     
  10. infiniteawesome, That was a really great read. The history of marijuana is so sad. In the time of Washington and Jefferson, hemp was the largest cash crop in America. I'm sure they have rolled over in their graves many times over...

    Thanks for the great read!
     
  11. Very well written paper. +rep to you. May I print this out to show some people? :D
     

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