Until the end of alcohol prohibition in the United States, you could smoke pot all over the world without any worries. Since then, the American vision and its influence on international institutions have been driving the global perception of cannabis. Cannabis prohibition has a history. Here it is.
In the United States, in 1930, during the period of alcohol prohibition, a man named Harry J. Anslinger was appointed head of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). While his position is threatened, 3 years later, by President Franklin Roosevelt who abolished prohibition, Harry Anslinger has to find a new playground. The enemy is all found with marijuana, at the time considered as the opium of the Mexicans. His ultra-radical stance against the plant allowed him to hold his ground until 1962 when he reached the maximum age to hold office.
From 1934 onwards, he hardened his words and used the mass media to focus on the plant and its effects. Moreover , he was assisted by newspaper magnate William Hearst, who had his news agency, the International News Service, and newspapers in Boston and Chicago.
Films such as “Reefer madness” or “Marijuana, weed with roots in hell” were released in 1936. At that time, however, there were only about ten thousand smokers in the United States. The head of the Narcotics multiplies aggressive statements and tries to influence a whole generation of Americans. Newspapers sometimes make the headlines on news items such as: “A young man, totally addicted after six months of inhalation massacred his family with an ax”, “Marijuana leads to brainwashing, pacifism, and communism. ” or “Smoke a joint and you’re ready to kill your brother. “Besides, Anslinger is behind the theory of hard drug escalation, marijuana’s negative connotation (with racist overtones, the myth of cannabis addiction, and prison overcrowding that has cost American taxpayers billions of dollars.
On the business side, William Hearst uses wood-based paper for his newspapers, which faces stiff competition from paper made from hemp. Besides ,Du Pont, an industrial chemical and textile company, joins the fight against weed. Du Pont, the creator of nylon, sees the hemp textile industry as a troublesome competitor. To eliminate the enemy, it must be dried out economically. Aslinger, therefore, submits The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 to the Council. In spite of the opposition of the medical sector and the mayor of New York, all the economic branches using hemp eventually disappeared.
War on Drugs
So , in 1951 in the USA, anyone caught possessing or consuming grass was punishable by a prison sentence of 2 to 5 years.
This war on drugs continued in 1961 when the United Nations established a list of prohibited substances. In fact , international drug policy, boosted by Nixon’s interests in 1971, aimed to suppress as much illegal production as possible and to track down consumers. The idea is to reduce supply, raise prices and frighten customers in order to eventually reduce consumption. On the contrary, consumption exploded with the end of the Vietnam War. Prices rise well, but the traffickers prosper and develop.
President Carter, Nixon’s successor, allows consumers with a small amount of marijuana to avoid conviction through federal law. Subsequent presidents will maintain “War on Drugs” until terrorism looks a little more dangerous.
After 70 years of failure, Americans are beginning to change their drug policy. The image of the demonic, blemished smoker is beginning to fade, and companies are throwing themselves into this new industry.