Many people to this day still don’t know the true reason why Marijuana is illegal. The most common misconception is that it’s a harmful narcotic. Harmful narcotic? Ok, anytime you inhale smoke it is going to be harmful to your lungs, I cannot argue with that. But marijuana can be taken in many ways, such as foods and drinks, and even pills! It is not fair to claim it is so harmful, it is just another scare tactic used by the government to install fear into the American people.
The truth behind the law banning marijuana is sad. The three main reasons I’m going to address are Racism, the greed of Harry Anslinger, and the paper industry.
It all started back in the early colonies, when farmers were ORDERED to grow a certain amount of hemp cannabis plants. You could be jailed for not following these orders! It is even said that hemp could be used for legal tender, and pay for taxes.(under Hemp Equals Freedom In The New World) This industry was booming for America and hemp started having many uses, such as fabric, paper, rope, and other wood products. By the early 1900’s, big farms, like the one above, started hiring Mexican workers coming up from Mexico to work on their farms which were producing Hemp plants. Many people hated this idea of Mexicans working in America- especially the little farm owners who couldn’t hire the workers- and when they found out that many of these workers were smoking the buds from the plant, they passed the first marijuana law, outlawing “preparations of hemp, or loco weed.” These laws were obviously aimed toward Mexicans, due to a lot of racism. Americans were told that they behave like animals after puffing a weed cigarette merely once or twice. The law was also backed by the little farm owners, who needed a way to compete with the bigger farms.
Soon after this came into effect, in 1930, America created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. A man the name of Harry J. Anslinger was named the director of the new department and he knew that if he wanted to stay director and keep the department alive, they would have to focus on more than just opiates and cocaine. He knew if he was able to make marijuana illegal at the federal level it would help build the agency, and thats exactly what he set out to do. He used racism and violence to back his fight against marijuana, you can see some of his outrageous quotes here (under Harry J. Anslinger). It was once again just another scare tactic to move the populations opinion to being against marijuana. There was no scientific evidence for these claims he was making. Anslinger simply wanted to trick the public so he would be able to make a huge profit off of one of the most booming industries!
Anslinger had lots of help, too. One of his main supporters was William Randolf Hearst, owner of many newspaper publishing companies, such as the San Francisco Examiner. He was a big supporter of making marijuana and hemp illegal for a few reasons. First, he was extremely racist towards Mexicans, who were seen to be the biggest users of marijuana. Secondly, hemp was becoming the biggest competitor for the paper industry. Hearst was scared of his companies being taken under by any hemp printing company, so he was ready to fight against it. And for him it was a brilliant idea. His newspapers were selling like crazy, because he would post many stories about crazed people on marijuana! Making up lies to sell his newspaper and take down hemp, a win-win situation.
So Marijuana is not illegal because it is harmful, it is mainly due to these three influences. It makes me think about why alcohol is still legal and marijuana’s not. Oh wait, it’s because the government can control and tax it and it didn’t affect or cause a threat to another industry.