For the last 80 odd years our Government has fed us a steady stream of misinformation regarding what is quickly becoming known as a potential game changer in the world of healthcare. I’m talking about none other than cannabis, or as the Feds would say “the devils weed”. 

In order to understand how we got here you need to dive into a little history. Let’s go back to 1930. A young and ambitious man named Harry Anslinger had just been appointed the director of the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Fresh off a stint prosecuting alcohol prohibition Harry was focused on expanding the reach of the FBN. Their primary role was combatting heroin and opium, which were effectively controlled by the Harrison Act of 1914.

Fear and fear itself…

As I said Harry was ambitious. By that time the population of addicts in the U.S. had dwindled and Harry was faced with the bleak reality that his role would be decreasing over time. How would he increase his power? How could he ensure his career would continue?

Marijuana. Used primarily by the minority community, it was the perfect opportunity. Keep in mind Harry had stated in public that marijuana posed no threat to society when he began his career at the FBN. By 1937 he had created the illusion that it was the most dangerous drug in the world. How did he do it? Fear. Plain and simple. You want to get the masses to do something for you? Motivate them with fear. 

Understand that the United States was in the middle of the greatest economic downturn in it’s history. Jobs were non-existent. Everyone struggled for any tiny bit of work they could find. All the lower end, menial jobs, typically performed by the minority community, were taken over by the displaced white population. It was “us against them” and the minority community suffered greatly. 

Harry seized the opportunity and instilled fear in the white community with stories of murder and rape of white women. In an era of increased fear and hatred his message resonated and by 1937 he had the country convinced that the only course of action was to criminalize marijuana. 

It is interesting to note the group that protested the move most vocally was none other than the American Medical Association. Testifying before congress in 1937 their opinion was that marijuana was, in fact, a very good medicine and to take it from the hands of researchers and physicians would be a grave mistake. But, as we know, logic is not the strong suit in politics and Harry won out. 

From then to now…

From that time until now the Federal Government has produced a steady stream of shoddy negative research (would it surprise you to learn they only funded research with a negative outcome?) and propaganda. 

In 1970 our very own President, Richard Nixon, kicked the War on Drugs into high gear with the creation of the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana was put into the Schedule 1 category with heroin, methamphetamine and the like. Schedule 1 says that a drug has no known medical use and a high propensity for addiction. We now know that in the case of marijuana both these things are categorically false. And yet it still remains a Schedule 1 drug. 

When President Nixon appointed a new head of his drug effort, he told him “listen this is your area of expertise but if you try to do anything with marijuana it will mean your job”. Why would he say that? Tricky Dick, as we affectionately called our President, absolutely hated the counterculture and he knew that cannabis was a large part of their movement against the establishment. Add to that his well-known racism and you have another head of state who manipulated a potentially positive plant for his own political purposes. 

As is the case in government hypocrisy abounds – the only patent on marijuana as a medicine is held by, anyone want to hazard a guess? Yep, you got it, the United States Government. What? You didn’t know? The same government that staunchly sticks to the story that marijuana is an awful, dangerous drug also happens to have filed a patent for marijuana as a medicine in 2003. 

So where are we today? Well, actually we’re where folks were in the 1500’s when Magellan came around from behind and declared the world was round. For centuries the story was the earth was flat. No amount of convincing could sway people’s viewpoint. Even with hard evidence some went to their graves unconvinced. We now all assume everyone knows the earth is round. Even with the fact that only a handful of us have actually travelled to space and seen it we still believe the story. 

That’s where we are with cannabis. There is an undeniable amount of evidence that it’s a beneficial plant with amazing possibilities for healing people and yet we still have a government, ostensibly “for the people and by the people” that stonewalls all efforts to right the wrong created over 80 years ago.