Anyone Ever Wonder Just How Marijuana Became Illegal In The US?

AL did a great job covering the political fallout from AG Sessions crusade against the demon weed, but what I almost never see discussed in all of the coverage is just how marijuana was deemed to be dangerous and became illegal in the US. It all comes down to one appointed official trying to protect his department’s budget

If you look for the roots of America’s ban on cannabis, you’ll find nearly all roads lead to a man named Harry Anslinger. He was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which laid the ground work for the modern-day DEA, and the first architect of the war on drugs.

Anslinger was appointed in 1930, just as the prohibition of alcohol was beginning to crumble (it was finally repealed in 1933), and remained in power for 32 years. Early on, he was on record essentially saying cannabis use was no big deal. He called the idea that it made people mad or violent an “absurd fallacy.”

But when Anslinger was put in charge of the FBN, he changed his position entirely.

“From the moment he took charge of the bureau, Harry was aware of the weakness of his new position. A war on narcotics alone — cocaine and heroin, outlawed in 1914 — wasn’t enough,” author Johann Hari wrote in his book, “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.” “They were used only by a tiny minority, and you couldn’t keep an entire department alive on such small crumbs. He needed more.

Consequently, Anslinger made it his mission to rid the U.S. of all drugs — including cannabis. His influence played a major role in the introduction and passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which outlawed possessing or selling pot.

Fueled by a handful of 1920s newspaper stories about crazed or violent episodes after marijuana use, Anslinger first claimed that the drug could cause psychosis and eventually insanity. In a radio address, he stated young people are “slaves to this narcotic, continuing addiction until they deteriorate mentally, become insane, turn to violent crime and murder.”

In particular, he latched on to the story of a young man named Victor Licata, who had hacked his family to death with an ax, supposedly while high on cannabis. It was discovered many years later, however, that Licata had a history of mental illness in his family, and there was no proof he ever used the drug.

The problem was, there was little scientific evidence that supported Anslinger’s claims. He contacted 30 scientists, according to Hari, and 29 told him cannabis was not a dangerous drug. But it was the theory of the single expert who agreed with him that he presented to the public — cannabis was an evil that should be banned — and the press ran with this sensationalized version.

Ansliger then combined his pursuit of a dedicated funding stream for his bureau with a healthy amount of all American racism and bigotry.

Harry told the public that “the increase [in drug addiction] is practically 100 percent among Negro people,” which he stressed was terrifying because already “the Negro population . . . accounts for 10 percent of the total population, but 60 percent of the addicts.” He could wage the drug war—he could do what he did—only because he was responding to a fear in the American people. You can be a great surfer, but you still need a great wave. Harry’s wave came in the form of a race panic.

Ansliger even promoted the term marijuana over cannabis because of its ethnic and racial connotations.

The word “marijuana” itself was part of this approach. What was commonly known as  cannabis until the early 1900s was instead called marihuana, a Spanish word more likely to be associated with Mexicans.

“He was able to do this because he was tapping into very deep anxieties in the culture that were not to do with drugs — and attaching them to this drug,” Hari said. Essentially, in 1930s America, it wasn’t hard to use racist rhetoric to associate the supposed harms of cannabis with minorities and immigrants.

So as the nationwide attitude towards cannabis began to fall in line with Anslinger’s, he testified before Congress in hearings for the Marijuana Tax Act. His testimony centered around the ideas he had been pushing all along — including a provocative letter from a local newspaper editor in Colorado, saying “I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents.”

One appointed official’s pursuit of relevance and power combined with his racism and bigotry spawned an almost 100 year war on drugs in the US. An effort that has spent billions of dollars, but done very little to curb Americans’ appetite for drugs. All while perpetuating and furthering systemic racism and its horrific effects on Americans of color.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” — Kohelet 1:9








Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s Anti-Marijuana Mandate Unites All Parties

Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent — all agree: Sessions’ motives are the worst. And apart from all the (poor, powerless, mostly not-white) people he’s going to hurt, the Republican “brand” will suffer because of his regressive obsession with “the demon weed”.

I’m proud that so many Democratic legislators are stepping up…


Read more








Open Thread: Sixty Pounds of Something in A Forty-Pound Sack

Nope, sounds to me like Mr. Trump may just have ingested sixty pounds of something stronger than Jeff Sessions’ “demon weed”…


President Trump
told reporters on Air Force One on Wednesday that his proposed border wall would have to be “transparent” to prevent Americans from being struck and killed by 60-pound sacks of drugs tossed over from the Mexican side.

“One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it,” Trump said. He continued:

In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.

And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.

Trump acknowledges that the scenario he paints is somewhat “crazy,” but there is a kernel of truth to it. For decades, drug smugglers have employed an arsenal of sometimes cartoonish tactics — from tricycles to narco-subs to drone delivery — to ferry their wares north of the border.

One such tool is the drug catapult — or more accurately, the drug trebuchet: a medieval-era device capable of slinging heavy objects, typically marijuana bales, across hundreds of yards…

SUNY-Albany homeland security expert Brandon Behlendorf told Wired this week that it’s nearly impossible to design a wall tall or “transparent” enough to stop a well-built trebuchet.

“They’re launching drugs not five feet from the wall, or 10 feet from the wall, where a transparent wall would help,” Behlendorf said. “They’re launching it 100 feet over the wall, 150 feet over the wall. No amount of transparency is going to help you in that context.”…








Blabbermouth Trump Blabs Out More Classified Info

Remember a long time ago when blabbermouth Trump invited the Russians who jacked our election into the Oval Office and blabbed about “code-word” intel? Yeah, that was last week.

Then this week, he made matters worse by confirming that the source of the intel was Israel while scolding the media about saying he said it was Israel, which they had not said. God, what a dumbass.

As a result, Israeli officials are allegedly changing the way they share classified info with the US. They say their cooperation with the US is “unprecedented,” but they would say that since we dump bales of cash on them every year. But common sense says they’ll give blabbermouth less to blab about if they don’t want more sources torched.

Now US sources — probably via Trump and his entourage again, because we know he’s a blabbermouth — caught UK officials by surprise by prematurely releasing info on the Manchester bombing. Via the Guardian:

American officials in Washington briefed US journalists early on Tuesday about the number of dead, confirming that it was a suicide bombing and – hours later – the name of the killer. The UK had not been planning to release the name on Tuesday.

The UK’s reluctance to identify the assailant was evident because it took hours after his name was circulating in the US media before Greater Manchester police confirmed it.

One of the basic tenets of intelligence sharing is that other agencies do not disclose it. The problem is that those intelligence agencies, whether American or French, pass it up to their presidents, prime ministers and departmental ministers. In the past, that secrecy was respected.

After the leaks, it could be tempting for UK police and intelligence services to stop sharing sensitive information, although Britain relies heavily on the US sharing its intelligence and benefits from intelligence, especially on counter-terrorism, from European colleagues such as France and Germany.

And now someone from the Filipino government at the Trump White House* released a transcript of a call between Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, a nutcase who ordered the extrajudicial killing of thousands of Filipinos in that country’s “war on drugs” [NYT]. And guess what? Not only does Trump squee like a prepubescent girl at a Bieber concert about Duterte’s bloodthirsty antics, he reveals yet more classified information! Excerpts from the transcript:

TRUMP: l just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.

DUTERTE: Thank you, Mr President. This is the scourge of my nation now and have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation.

TRUMP: I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that, but I understand that and we have spoken about this before.

DUTERTE: Yes, I know that. Thank you. Yes.

Does Trump really admire Duterte’s murderous war on drugs? I doubt it. I’d bet money Trump has shoveled thousands of dollars up his own nostrils. But Duterte treated President Obama disrespectfully, so Trump thinks he’s a swell guy.

Now, on to the part where Trump spilled more secrets:

TRUMP: So how is everyone doing, how is the Philippines doing? [Jesus God! — Ed.]

DUTERTE: We are doing fine, Mr. President, but in the ASEAN summit, every member state was really nervous about the situation in the Korean peninsula, but we would like to tell you that we support you and keep on the pressure because as long as those rockets and warheads are in the hands of Kim Jong Un we will never be safe, as there’s no telling what will happen next.

TRUMP: What’s your opinion of (Kim), Rodrigo? Are we dealing with someone who is stable or not stable?

DUTERTE: He is not stable, Mr. President, as he keeps on smiling when he explodes a rocket. He even has gone against China, which is the last country he should rebuke. But it seems from his face — he is laughing always and there is a dangerous toy in his hands which could create so much agony and suffering for all mankind.

TRUMP: Well, he has got the powder but he doesn’t have the delivery system. All his rockets are crashing. That’s the good news. But eventually when he gets that delivery system… What do you think about China? Does China have power over him?

DUTERTE: Yes, at the end of the day, the last card, the ace has to be with China. It’s only China. He is playing with his bombs, his toys and from the looks of it, his mind is not working well and he might just go crazy one moment. China should make a last ditch effort to tell him to lay off. China will play a very important role there.

TRUMP: We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines — the best in the world — not that we want to use them at all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this but he could be crazy so we will see what happens.

So basically, two lunatics are discussing the stability of a third lunatic, but only one of the lunatics is blabbing state secrets such as the location of submarines, and he’s our dumb fucking President Lunatic.

Can you imagine this buffoon keeping an operation like the bin Laden raid under wraps? Trump’s big fat mouth is going to get a lot of people killed. It’s only a matter of time.

*Thanks to all three dozen who emailed about this correction!








AG Jeff Sessions: The 21st Century Klan Grand Wizard Issues a Decree

NAZI garden gnome and all around evil prick Jeff Sessions has put out some truly awful guidance today:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

In a speech Friday, Sessions said the move was meant to ensure that prosecutors would be “un-handcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington” as they worked to bring the most significant cases possible.

“We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple,” Sessions said. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way, we will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”

The Holder memo, issued in August 2013, instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with drug offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. Defendants who met a set of criteria such as not belonging to a large-scale drug trafficking organization, gang or cartel, qualified for lesser charges — and in turn less prison time — under Holder’s policy.

The reason for this is quite simple. He’s racist as fuck. Don’t confuse evil and racist with stupid, there is a reason he is doing this:

Harsh drug laws are clearly an important factor in the persistent racial and ethnic disparities observed in state prisons. For drug crimes disparities are especially severe, due largely to the fact that blacks are nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested for drug offenses and 2.5 times as likely to be arrested for drug possession.29) This is despite the evidence that whites and blacks use drugs at roughly the same rate. From 1995 to 2005, African Americans comprised approximately 13 percent of drug users but 36% of drug arrests and 46% of those convicted for drug offenses.30)

Disparities are evident at the initial point of contact with police, especially through policies that target specific areas and/or people. A popular example of this is “stop, question, and frisk.” Broad discretion allowed to law enforcement can aggravate disparities. Though police stops alone are unlikely to result in a conviction that would lead to a prison sentence, the presence of a criminal record is associated with the decision to incarcerate for subsequent offenses, a sequence of events that disadvantages African Americans. Jeffrey Fagan’s work in this area found that police officers’ selection of who to stop in New York City’s high-profile policing program was dictated more by racial composition of the neighborhood than by actual crime in the area.31) The process of stopping, questioning and frisking individuals based on little more than suspicion (or on nebulous terms such as “furtive behavior,” which were the justification for many stops) has led to unnecessary criminal records for thousands. New York’s policy was ruled unconstitutional in 2013 with a court ruling in Floyd v. City of New York.

You can’t as easily get away with lynching anymore, so this is the next best thing for this stain on humanity. It’s that simple.