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|Unravelling An American Dilemma: The Demonization of Marihuana|
The Evolution of the Marihuana Issue in America
In 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics inaugurated a media campaign to bring the drug marihuana under the control of federal legislation.Over the next seven years the Bureau gradually built a case against the new drug. According to the Bureau, marihuana use was a threat of national proportions.Backed by an arsenal of statistics, the Bureau proceeded to inform the public of the impending danger and to recommend that the cultivation of marihuana be prohibited in this country, claiming that such action was its sworn duty. This claim is very strange because, prior to 1930, the issue of marihuana had never been considered to be of national importance.In fact, the available evidence suggests that there was never a true problem with marihuana. The reality of this observation is self-evident from the name, marihuana, which was nothing more than a localized-Mexican colloquialism for cannabis or hemp: the same plant which had evolved in a unique symbiosis with humanity throughout history. A simple examination tracing the evolution of the marihuana issue reveals that the Bureau’s campaign to prohibit marihuana lacked both a historical and a scientific precedent. The importance of this fact is crucial to the present hypothesis, that marihuana was demonized because of the hemp plant’s economic potential, because, without a historical or scientific precedent, the Bureau was without a valid motive for the action it took against marihuana.
Ironically, the same drug denoted by the term, marihuana, appears to have had a long and illustrious history of religious, recreational, and medicinal use among many different cultures.Knowledge of the drug disappeared in the West during the Middle Ages, but it persisted in the East.In the eighteenth century, the British encountered the Indian customs of using bhang, charas, and ganja, all of which were cannabis drugs.British officials stationed in India claimed that the Indian use of cannabis drugs caused insanity, crime, and violent behavior among the native population. Based on these allegations, the colonial governors typically lobbied for prohibitive legislation, but the home government always investigated the charges against cannabis and never found any evidence to support the claims of their officials.
During the nineteenth century, more middle and upper class British migrated to India as employees of the great trading companies and the home government. This new wave of foreign administrators associated the Indian custom of using cannabis drugs with the dismal conditions of life among the lower classes of India. Over time, this economically biased and racist assumption caught the attention of officials back in England who were members of the Temperance League.In 1893, these Progressively-minded officials lobbied for the formation of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission to determine whether or not cannabis drugs should be prohibited in India.After a year of painstaking observation and questioning, the commission produced a comprehensive report on the use of cannabis drugs. Despite the rumors, no serious problems were found to exist with the consumption of cannabis drugs and, consequently, the commission advised against prohibition.
Earlier in the nineteenth century, the medicinal use of cannabis was rediscovered by a physician in the British Army, W. B. O’Shaugnessy. While stationed in India’s Bengal province, Dr. O’Shaugnessy observed Indian doctors using cannabis medicines to cure a number of illnesses and diseases untreatable in the West. Based on his firsthand experience, Dr. O’Shaugnessy published a forty-page paper in 1839 on the therapeutic properties of cannabis. This study resurrected the medicinal use of the drug in the West. By the turn of the century, the extract of cannabis had become a main ingredient in many simple patent medicines. Eventually, the U.S. Department of Agriculture even published a circular about the cultivation of cannabis, for farmers interested in selling the crop to the pharmaceutical industry during the 1920s. Significantly, until the late 1930s, cannabis medicines were available at local drug stores throughout the nation.
The medicinal use of cannabis first received federal recognition in 1906, under the Pure Food and Drug Act.Inspired by the Progressive ideology of the day, the legislators required that the ingredients of all medicines be printed on a label for the public to view. During the years following the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, lobbying was initiated for stricter legislation which eventually culminated in the passage of the Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914.At first, legislators included cannabis under the provisions of the act, but a formidable lobby arose and challenged the initial decision to include cannabis. This lobby was led by doctor and pharmacist associations, such as the American Medical Association and the National Association of Retail Druggists.During a 1911 hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Charles A. West, testifying for the National Wholesale Druggist Association, stated that cannabis was not habit inducing like the derivatives of the opiates and coca products. Testimony like West’s caused Congress to drop cannabis from the provisions of the Act. In 1914, there was not a problem with cannabis drugs, otherwise, the politicians would have passed the Harrison Act in its original form.
Nevertheless, between 1914 and 1931, local movements succeeded in lobbying twenty-nine states, seventeen of which were west of the Mississippi River, for the passage of ordinances banning the non-medicinal use of marihuana. Initially, anti-marihuana legislation was sought in the Southwest.Local law enforcement officials spread rumors claiming that the use of marihuana among the Mexican population caused crime and induced violent behavior. Laws were easily passed on the basis of these rumors on the state and local level. The true motivation for such legislation was the oppression of the Mexican immigrants, who used marihuana. Later, during the 1920s, the use of marihuana became established in many cities as part of the African-American inspired jazz scene. The cultural revolution occurring within the jazz scene frightened Progressives, who hastily labeled marihuana a narcotic drug and lobbied for its prohibition. Throughout this period of time, from 1914 to 1931, local and state movements against the use of marihuana continuously failed to prove that there was anything harmful or dangerous about the drug. Instead, the movements were ultimately motivated by xenophobia and driven by the Progressive desire to correct society’s ills.
In 1914, El Paso, Texas, became the first location in America to pass legislation prohibiting the cultivation, importation, and use of marihuana. The basis for this legislation typified the emerging attitude of the American Southwest toward the Mexican custom of smoking marihuana.Situated on the border, El Paso was a major center of interaction between America and Mexico.The Mexican immigrants were part of an economic underclass which lived in perpetual poverty. They were ruthlessly exploited by American capitalists who employed them as labors at sub-minimum wage. During the first quarter of this century, many Americans were economically displaced by the influx of half a million Mexican immigrants into the job market. Small farmers and labor unions were particularly threatened by the Mexicans who were hired at significantly cheaper wages by the larger commercial farming operations and local industries. Animosity developed as Americans lost jobs to the Mexicans. In time, the Americans discovered the Mexican custom of smoking marihuana, and, shortly thereafter, local authorities started a rumor that the drug caused crime and violence among the Mexican population.
The origin of this rumor appears to have been a common Mexican saying, “Esta ya ledio las tres” (“you take it three times”).According to local folklore, the first smoke induced a feeling of well-being; the second caused extreme elation coupled with activity; and the third supposedly made the smoker oblivious to danger, quarrelsome, delirious, destructive, and conscious of superhuman strength. Given such a reputation, marihuana quickly became a source of concern among local law enforcement officials. Unfortunately, in their haste to control a potential problem, local officials failed to take into account the dismal socio-economic conditions which confronted the Mexican immigrants in America. Rather than face reality, local officials were motivated by the political expediency of a scapegoat like marihuana as they blamed the problems of crime and violence in the Mexican communities on the drug.By example, the following statement from a law enforcement officer stationed in the Southwest typified the emerging attitude toward marihuana: “Under its baseful influence reckless men become bloodthirsty, terribly daring, and dangerous to an uncontrollable degree.”
This type of racist and socio-economic bigotry spread like a contagious virus and it was the principal reason for the trend of anti-marihuana legislation on the state level, as well as the main rallying cry of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics for federal legislation against marihuana. Ironically, there was not a vapor of truth to any of the claims that the use of marihuana caused crime and violence. The veracity of the previous statement was a well known fact among the experts, but for some reason the truth was ignored through the whole period. For instance, in 1926, after about a decade of contact with El Paso, Dr. W. W. Stockberger of the Bureau of Plant Industry, explained that his agency’s knowledge about marihuana did not concur with the reports they had been receiving from El Paso. In fact, Dr. Stockberger’s description of the effects of marihuana contradicted the claim that marihuana induced violent behavior among users.He stated, “The reported effects of the drug on Mexicans, making them want to ‘clean up the town,’ do not jibe very well with the effects of cannabis, which so far as we have reports, simply causes temporary elation, followed by depression and heavy sleep.”
Regardless of the truth, the authorities from El Paso were driven by their xenophobia to issue a complaint against marihuana to the federal government in 1915. Chiefly, the complaint urged for stricter regulations against the importation of marihuana from Mexico. And, despite its blatantly racist overtone, Dr. Alsberg (no first name given), the Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry, brought the complaint to the attention of the Secretary of Agriculture, who hastily presented an official request to the Secretary of Treasury. On September 25, 1915, a ban on the importation of marihuana for other than medicinal purposes was promptly implemented in Treasury Decision 35719.
Two years later, Dr. Alsberg dispatched his personal assistant, Reginald Smith, on a tour of eleven cities located along the southwestern border with Mexico. While he was on this tour Smith gathered information and conducted interviews regarding Treasury Decision 35719. Through this process, Smith discovered that marihuana was used infrequently for various medicinal purposes, such as child-birth, asthma, and gonorrhea among the Mexicans of “low birth.” He also found that, although, the drug was widely smoked for recreational purposes by the Mexicans as well as some “Negroes” and “lower class whites.”The total demand for the drug was easily met by local cultivation, street sales, and by general availability at grocery and drug stores. In his final assessment, Smith claimed that the drug was injurious to the health of the smoker and often caused the user to commit heinous crimes. Closer inspection reveals that Smith based his grand assumptions on second-hand information, which he had gathered during interviews conducted with biased local officials who provided no first-hand evidence to support their testimony. Simply put, Smith’s report lacked scientific credibility. This deficiency did not deter Smith from concluding that Treasury Decision 35719 was completely ineffective. And, in its place, he suggested that the more stringent Harrison Act be amended to include cannabis. Congress, however, ignored the alleged problem.
Meanwhile, by 1916, American military authorities stationed in the Panama Canal Zone began to suspect that army personnel were smoking marihuana. Eventually, in 1925, a formal committee was convened to investigate the alleged Canal Zone marihuana problem. And, after a series of firsthand experiments as well as an extensive examination of personal testimony and military files, the committee reached the following conclusion: “There is no evidence that marihuana as grown and used here is a ‘habit-forming’ drug in the sense in which the term is applied to alcohol, opium, cocaine, etc., or that it has any appreciably deleterious influence on the individual using it.” Ironically, the native custom of smoking marihuana in Panama was the same as the Mexican custom, but the truth remained classified and hidden from the public.
Mexicans were not the only scapegoats in the early efforts to prohibit the use of marihuana. African-Americans in the lower class communities of New Orleans had long enjoyed marihuana as a recreational pastime.Originally, the drug had been introduced by Caribbean sailors and West Indian immigrants. They passed the custom on to the African-Americans.Marihuana cigarettes, commonly known as reefers, were ritually smoked by the African-American musicians who created blues and jazz. Their music acted like a catalyst stimulating a positive cultural interaction between the African-Americans who shared their music, and the Latinos and whites who joined the jazz scene because of an admiration for the music. During the 1920s, jazz became a cultural phenomenon and quickly spread from New Orleans to other urban centers and, naturally, the use of marihuana followed the music.Jazz quarters soon became established in the midst of the nation’s inner cities, where crime and violence were perpetual problems.Local officials, searching for simplistic causation, blamed the endemic inner city crime and violence, not on the depressed socio-economic conditions of the lower class who lived in the troubled areas, but rather on their use of marihuana. This urban trend, to blame the woes of the inner city on the use of marihuana, was strikingly similar to the scenario which had unfolded in the Southwest, except, that in the cities the anti-marihuana fight gained a new perspective. Specifically, agitators deliberately classified marihuana as a narcotic.
Earlier in the century, Progressives sought to prohibit the use of opiates and coca products because of their addictive properties. To support their goals, Progressives created the negative terminology of narcotics and cast the addict in the role of society’s most evil criminal. Eventually, the Harrison Narcotic Act was passed in 1914, based on the lobbying of the Progressives. Cannabis drugs were specifically omitted from the list of substances controlled by the Harrison Narcotics Act because they did not produce the negative effects commonly attributed to other narcotics.However, during the 1920s, marihuana was informally labeled a narcotic. This strategy first emerged in New Orleans and then later it surfaced in Chicago.Both of these cities possessed large and popular jazz quarters in which the smoking of marihuana was widespread.The Progressive majority of the predominantly WASP middle- and upper-class America generally feared the cultural revolution occurring on the jazz scene. Consequently, local officials seized the political opportunity to label marihuana a narcotic and campaign against the evils of the drug on the basis of the public’s prejudices. Such action demonstrated their adherence to the ideological tenets of Progressivism and translated into easy votes in the future.As with the scenario in the Southwest, there was a total disregard for the objective truth about marihuana in the urban movements.
Further misinformation about marihuana evolved separately from the Southwestern and urban movements during the first part of the twentieth century. Among the wealthier classes a new type of recreational drug, hashish, became popular. This drug was produced from the resin of the female hemp plant’s flowers and, in many instances, it was combined with an opiate or a mild hallucinogen such as datura (a plant of the nightshade family).Consequently, the effects of cannabis were often confused with the effects of the other more powerful drugs which were often included in the “hashish” mixture.
Jacques-Joseph Moreau, a nineteenth century French doctor, became interested in experimenting with hashish on the premise that its pharmaceutical properties could induce a mental breakdown, and thus aid in the treatment of mental illness. He published his studies as, Hashish and Mental Illness in the mid-nineteenth century.During the course of his research, Dr. Moreau came into contact with the Club des Hachichins, an elite literary club founded by Theophile Gautier, which included the likes of such writers as Dumas, de Nerval, Hugo, Boissard, and Delacroix. Once a month in the lobby of the Hotel Lauzun, in the Latin Quarter of Paris, Dr. Moreau met with these authors and dispensed his hashish among them.During these meetings, Dr. Moreau and his subjects kept records of their thoughts and the effects of the drug as they entered altered states of mind. Through their work they helped create an image of hashish which probably damaged the public’s perception of the drug. In particular, they attributed the negative effects of the harsher drugs, such as the addiction of opium or the hallucinations of datura, to cannabis, which was the main ingredient of hashish.
More importantly, this clique of writers helped to proliferate a myth about hashish which would become a weapon of propaganda in the anti-marihuana campaign. Specifically, these authors were fascinated with Silvestre de Sacy’s hypothesis that hashish was the grass of which Marco Polo wrote as the secret elixir of the infamous Assassins, the arch-enemies of the Knights Templars during the Crusades. According to legend, the Assassins’ leader, the Old Man on the Mountain, gave his zealots hashish before battle. Supposedly, the drug caused the user to become a berserk, blood-thirsty killing machine. Although the knowledge of hashish and its sensationalized myth remained confined to a limited audience, word of it spread from French literary circles to English, and finally on to America. In America, the writers of the Bohemian genera like Bernard Taylor and Fitz Hugh Ludlow were the first to openly dabble with the drug and employ its mythology in their fiction.In time, other journalistic ventures, such as medical and psychological journals, exploited the myth of the Assassins and introduced it to mainstream America. Eventually, by the late 1920s, this exotic fantasy about hashish was cited as if it were a historical fact by anti-marihuana proponents.
In retrospect, the legislation against marihuana on the state and local level, between 1914 and 1930, was the direct result of xenophobia and the Progressive mentality. This observation is particularly disturbing since the motivating factors for these laws were not historically or scientifically credible.Instead, each campaign against marihuana relied on rumors, prevarications, biases, and outright racism.In many instances local officials managed to pass laws against marihuana without the public’s knowledge.If and when the media did cover an anti-marihuana campaign, no effort was made to provide the public with an objective story.Instead, the media played with the conventions of the myth of the Assassins, Progressive morality, and xenophobically inspired misrepresentations. In the end, both the media and local government were responsible for perpetuating these fallacies and creating a precedent for federal legislation in the future.
Despite the many incidents of anti-marihuana legislation on the state and local level, the federal government ignored all cannabis drugs until 1929. At this late date Congress included Indian Hemp on the list of drugs which were to be treated at two newly created narcotic farms.In retrospect, Congress’s action was merely a token gesture of recognition, rather than an attempt to address a true problem.The clinics were established for the treatment of patients who had serious dependency problems with opiates.However, through some medium, the legislators became aware that Indian Hemp had been a topic during a recent international narcotic conference, and because of this they decided to include Indian Hemp in the final draft of the narcotic farms’ charters.
Later, during 1929, the federal government formally acknowledged the existence of marihuana.Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas introduced the first federal anti-marihuana legislation. His bill, S. 2075, provided for the inclusion of marihuana in the Narcotic Drugs Export and Import Act which had been passed in 1922 without considering marihuana. In 1929, Congress’s knowledge about marihuana was extremely limited, therefore, Senator Lawrence Phipps requested that the Surgeon General conduct a study on the marihuana problem as it would relate to the proposed bill, S. 2075.The subsequent report was entitled Preliminary Report on Indian Hemp and Peyote.This report was presented and accepted as if it were the final word on the subject of marihuana when, in reality, it displayed total disregard for the standards of objectivity and blatantly ignored the findings of both the 1925 Panama Canal Zone Report and the British Indian Hemp Commission Report. In place of the well-established truth, the Preliminary Report on Indian Hemp and Peyote labeled marihuana a narcotic and presented the myth of the Assassins as historical fact. Furthermore, it lent official confirmation to the unfounded rumor that marihuana possessed the capability of inducing addictive, criminal, and even insane behavior. Needless to say, this document had a significant impact on the perception of marihuana in Congress, but apparently not enough, because S. 2075 died in committee.
Just as S. 2075 was being laid to rest, Congress took a giant step forward and created a new agency to oversee the nation’s drug problem. On June 14, 1930, the Federal Narcotics Control Board and the narcotics division of the Bureau of Prohibition were terminated and their responsibilities were placed under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which became an independent division of the Treasury Department. Harry J. Anslinger was chosen to head the Bureau.The new Commissioner had already distinguished himself as a capable enforcer with the Bureau of Prohibition’s narcotics task force, not to mention the fact that he was destined to become the nephew-in-law of the Secretary of Treasury, Andrew Mellon. From the moment of the Bureau’s creation, Commissioner Anslinger decided to push for the total prohibition of marihuana, based on the premise that the need to control potential cannabis addiction outweighed the drug’s limited medicinal value. In this context, one of the first orders of business for the newly created Bureau became the enactment of a uniform state narcotic law with cannabis included in its provisions.
The American Medical Association decided to draft the first uniform narcotic act in 1922, because of a lack of uniformity in record keeping, weak enforcement against violators, and growing hysteria in the public about addicts and crime. The following year a committee of fifteen Representatives from ten pharmaceutical companies and two representatives from the medical profession approved the original version of the uniform state narcotic law.Meanwhile, these efforts were overshadowed by the creation of the National Conference of Commissioners for Uniform State Laws.The larger movement was composed of two representatives from each state, who were appointed by their respective governors. In 1924, the Commissioners created a committee to draft a uniform state narcotic act.This led to the first draft of the Uniform State Narcotic Act in 1925, hereafter referred to as the UNDA (Uniform Narcotic Drug Act). Cannabis was included in the Act’s provisions but nothing ever came of this draft.Further work was shelved until 1928, when a second draft was composed. In this version of the Act, the inclusion of cannabis was made optional, but again the Act failed to receive the attention of the Commissioners. This trend continued as two more drafts were written up and presented in 1929 and 1930.
After 1930, the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotics made the fight to include marihuana in the provisions of the UNDA an issue of high priority. A policy of misinformation was hastily adopted and formalized in a slickly packaged media campaign. Ironically, this propaganda reflected the prejudice of xenophobic attitudes, the morality of Progressive policy toward narcotics, and the tendency for sensationalized stories, such as the myth of the Assassins. The Bureau’s first move was to cite the Wickersham Commission Report on Crime and the Foreign Born of 1929.One volume of the report, the Warnhuis Study, attempted to justify the blatantly false and racist argument linking marihuana, Mexicans, and crime.Besides the Warnhuis Study, the Bureau brought forth media and police reports regarding alleged marihuana problems in several cities.Like the rumors about the Mexican use of marihuana from the Southwest, these reports had a definite racial and socio-economic bias.For further ammunition against marihuana, the Bureau also cited the findings of the erroneous Preliminary Report on Indian Hemp and Peyote.
Whether this material was truthful or believable was not the issue, especially when the point that it made supported the Bureau’s position and goal. The Bureau officially unleashed this propaganda to the public in 1931 through two Christian Science Monitor articles. The headline of the first article read: “Drug Used by Mexican Aliens Finds Loophole in the U. S. Laws - Spread of Growth of Marihuana in Wake of Immigrants Causes Grave Concern at Washington - Effects Described in Wickersham Studies.” Then, in a subsequent issue, a source within the Bureau claimed that: “Instances of criminals using the drug to give them courage before making brutal forays are occurrences commonly known to the narcotics Bureau.” Through propaganda like this, the Bureau attempted to apply pressure on the recalcitrant pharmaceutical and medical interests which opposed the idea of restrictions on marihuana.
For some reason, though, the media were unconcerned with marihuana and the fight to include the drug in the provisions of the UNDA.As a consequence, the ensuing debate remained confined to politics and had virtually no influence on the public. For instance, a New York Times article from 1931 simply stated that the Narcotic Survey Commission was asking the states to prohibit the cultivation of marihuana. If there had been a serious problem with marihuana, the article failed to mention anything specific. Meanwhile, on the other side of the political debate the pharmaceutical and medical interests led by the American Medical Association continued to oppose the inclusion of cannabis. When the UNDA was finally passed in 1932, the inclusion of marihuana was left to the discretion of the individual states.Evidently, the Commissioners were not convinced of a problem despite the efforts of the Bureau.
During 1933, the hemp industry appeared to become a concern of the Bureau when it requested a report on the hemp industry from the Department of Agriculture. This report, Hemp Fiber Production, was sent to the Bureau from the Department of Agriculture in December, 1933. According to the authors of this report, Dr. Andrew H. Wright and Dr. Lyster H. Dewey, the hemp industry was on the verge of extinction. Since 1928, the annual harvest of hemp had been a meager 1000 acres.This cultivation was primarily confined to the state of Wisconsin. In retrospect, the Bureau’s request seems a little unusual since the Bureau had no formal jurisdiction over marihuana or the hemp industry.Later, during the spring of 1934, the potential threat of anti-marihuana legislation led Dr. Wrightand Dr. Dewey to contactthe Bureau with requests for information. Both men were confused as to whether or not the new anti-marihuana laws actually prohibited the legitimate growth of hemp for industrial purposes.
On April 7, 1934, the Commissioner responded to Dr. Wright’s request by citing an example of a state law from Nebraska.This particular law had been enacted in 1927. According to the Commissioner, the law completely prohibited the cultivation of marihuana.Continuing, the Commissioner explained that cannabis did not rightly fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government, although with respect to this situation, the Commissioner stated that the Bureau was behind efforts to control the traffic of cannabis through the enactment of the optional marihuana clause in the UNDA.As the clause was written, it did not necessarily prohibit the cultivation of marihuana, but it did require the licensing of growers and producers. After this, the Commissioner noted that on the average 1400 acres of hemp had been cultivated in Wisconsin, Dr. Wright’s home state, during the past few seasons and that there were no regulatory laws. This situation obviously upset the Commissioner.In his own words, he suggested that the Wisconsin State Legislature should consider “a special regulatory measure to insure that the flowering tops of the plant shall not be available for improper or non-medical use.”
Despite this outward display of concern, the Bureau did not seem to be pressured by any sense of urgency.Upon an analysis of the Bureau’s public record, one historian was led to conclude that: “The Bureau saw no extraordinary danger in the use of marihuana between 1930 and 1934. It decried its use by Mexican-Americans but expressed belief the state laws could control this illicit activity.” During 1933, the Bureau primarily worked with the states to organize the Uniform State Narcotic Act. But, by April of 1934, only Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia had passed the optional marihuana clause.Through the rest of 1934, the Bureau continued to treat the marihuana issue secondarily, however, toward the end of the year, the Bureau began to refocus its attention on the drug. Starting in 1935, the Bureau suddenly unleashed an unprecedented media blitz based on the false premise that marihuana was a dangerous narcotic capable of inducing criminal and violent behavior.Except this time around, the Bureau’s demeanor and actions were far more serious and combative than they had been during the initial campaign for the UNDA. Why this abrupt change of policy occurred has never been conclusively established.
Despite any actual verification, the new surge of anti-marihuana activity in 1935 has been linked to the Bureau’s disappointment with the limited success of the UNDA. From the outset the American Medical Association and the pharmaceutical companies objected to the legislation and after the passage of the UNDA they successfully lobbied against the bill at the state level.Late in 1934, the Bureau decided to counter the opposition of the American Medical Association and the pharmaceutical companies.For this purpose the Bureau launched their propaganda campaign during 1935 to stimulate public support for the UNDA and further federal legislation against marihuana. This act resulted in the demonization of marihuana and the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
The Federal Bureau of Narcotics naturally claimed that there was a genuine problem, but they failed to provide the hard evidence to substantiate their claim. Instead, the reality appears to be that the Bureau recycled the rumors, prevarications, and myths of the past; dressed them in the garb of authority; and paraded them before the public and the law-makers as a precedent for oppressive legislation on the federal level. Why did a branch of the federal government display such an utter disregard for the truth? Based on this alarming discrepancy, there seems to be good reason to question the rationale behind the Bureau’s final assault against marihuana.
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