The way political opposition forces for thousands of years operated by prohibiting only CERTAIN drugs and criminalizing them in attempts to rise or stay in power, is the same way Conservatives, Republicans and others are doing today: criminalize otherwise law-abiding citizens so that many of their political enemies are neutralized and/or silenced.
The War on Drugs started (really its been about 80 years) with a corrupt Republican politician named Richard Nixon, who spied on his enemies and focused on eliminating them by locking them up over simple drug violations. I, supposedly a “good” Conservative Republican (only vote that way because Democrats are worse) supported the War on Drugs. I changed over the years to only wanting to decriminalize Cannabis, but keeping other already illegal drugs illicit, then to legalizing Cannabis but still keeping other illicit drugs illegal, to now knowing I was WRONG about the entire subject and believe ALL drugs now criminalized should be legal so that government regulates them, instead of the ruthless Drug Cartels.
What all of us need to do is ask the two simple, basic questions that should determine whether or not we should support a law or not. The first basic question is whether the law we support is Constitutional – especially from the standpoint of looking at the law from the viewpoint of Freedom of Religion, Speech and Assembly. The War on Drugs FAILS at protecting all three of these precious rights. Secondly, does the law fulfill the basic premise of Government that it does NOT deprive someone of their pursuit of happiness that all are guaranteed, as long as what they are pursuing doesn’t harm someone else? The War on Drugs FAILS at this very basic question of the very foundation of why Government exists in the first place.
You see, we grew up on D.A.R.E. programs that LIED to us about the severity of illicit drugs and listened to politicians who wanted to make outlaws of those they politically opposed on the issue of illegality of CERTAIN drugs. We now have to realize that we have been lied to about Hemp and Cannabis by many forces, including the Drug Industry, Alcohol Industry and many other industries that have a vested interest in keeping this evil War on Drugs continuing.
From the start, U.S. Drug Policy was determined along racial lines, with the first law banning opium smoking in the late 1800s because it was the favorite of Chinese laborers who were brought here to build the railroads, even though White folks used opium too, but they sipped it in their drinks, which was considered perfectly acceptable.
Cocaine was also a popular drug in the late 19th Century, with cigarettes treated with it, medicines derived from it and even the Sears catalogue offering it for sale. But when the Journal of the American Medical Association published an editorial on cocaine use among blacks in the South, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed a racist named Dr. Hamilton Wright to head up his version of the War on Drugs. Wright stirred up anti-black and anti-Latino sentiments.
When the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was formed in 1930, its head, Harry Anslinger, started a Crusade against Cannabis, which was a drug that was popular among Mexicans and black jazz musicians. Anslinger said the drug “can arouse in blacks and Hispanics a state of menacing fury or homicidal attack.”
Nelson Rockefeller, longtime New York governor is widely remembered as the architect of New York’s draconian drug laws enacted in 1973 mandating that possession of even small amounts of cocaine or heroin be punished with minimum sentences of 15 years to life in prison—even for those with no prior record.
As a result of these laws, some 200,000 men, women and children were condemned to spend decades in prison. Today, nearly 90% of those incarcerated in New York on drug charges are black or Latino, and the Rockefeller laws became the model for drug laws all across the country that eventually imprisoned hundreds of thousands more in the racist War on drugs. The number of people incarcerated in the U.S. has grown eightfold since 1970, with 2.3 million behind bars today — 70% of them Black or Latino.
A 2009 report by the New York Civil Liberties Union said that the Rockefeller laws are “New York’s Jim Crow Laws.” In the 1950s, when Jim Crow segregation was still legal in the South, Black Americans made up 30% of the national prison population. But today, as a result of the War on Drugs, Blacks, which account for only 13% of the U.S. population, make up over 50% of prison inmates, eight times the rate of imprisonment for Whites. And according to a 2007 Justice Policy Institute report, Black men are sent to prison on drug charges at ten times the rate of white men, even though their drug use is about the same.
Between 1994 and 2003 the average time served by blacks for drug crimes grew by 62%, compared to 17% for Whites. And on average, Black men and women spend nearly as much time in prison on drug charges as Whites convicted of violent crimes. The federal drug laws for crack and cocaine possession seem blatantly racist, punishing those for possession of crack far more severely than those for powder cocaine, which Whites mostly use. Crack cocaine is simply the cheaper version of the same substance cocaine is derived from, although some say it is more addictive.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, 82.6 million White people in the U.S. have used an illicit drug in their lifetime compared with 12.5 million Black Americans. A total of 5.6 million Whites have used crack cocaine compared to 1.5 million Blacks. And between 2005-2006 2.5 million Whites sold illicit drugs compared with 712,000 Blacks.
A study by The Sentencing Project reveals that a Black person is 3.4 times more likely to be arrested for illegal drugs than a White person. with all 43 major U.S. cities having more Black people (per capita) being arrested than White people (per capita).
Former New York Police Commissioner Lee Brown explain it this way:
“In most large cities, the police focus their attention on where they see conspicuous drug use… Conspicuous drug use is generally in your low-income neighborhoods that generally turn out to be your minority neighborhoods….It’s easier for police to make an arrest when you have people selling drugs on the street corner than those who are in the suburbs or in office buildings. The end result is that more blacks are arrested than whites because of the relative ease in making those arrests.”
Blacks Americans are also incarcerated more than Whites for drug crimes, with the Drug Policy Alliance Network showing that Blacks constitute 13% of drug users, but are 38% of people arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those convicted. The discrepancy between Blacks and Whites incarcerated for drug crimes transcends all 50 states, with every state having more Black Americans incarcerated for drug crimes (per capita) than White Americans – and by large margins.
Michael Tonry, author of the book, ‘the War on Drugs has failed,’ says it this way:
“If policy makers’ aim in setting drug and crime control policies had been to reduce poor black men’s chances of earning a decent living, or becoming a good husband and father, or being socialized into positive social values, it is hard to see how they could have done it more effectively.”
The Congressional Black Caucus was very much in favor of the 1986 “100-to-1” law resulting in penalizing the possession of crack more severely than powdered cocaine. They were aware that this would disproportionately affect black communities, but they nonetheless used these laws to try to lessen the murderous violence that open-air drug selling entails. So, there is a non-racist motivation that MOST Conservatives, Republicans, Democrats and others are espousing, but the effects have been horrible for the Black community in America.
These same Conservatives, Republicans, Liberals and others ARE in fact Communists, though, since they are still targeting their political opponents through laws that criminalize drugs that THEY deem evil, though it is partly the EFFECTS of the drugs they are really trying to control. If they were just trying to CONTROL the actual drugs, then the violence associated with leaving drug control to ruthless criminal gangs would virtuously disappear within a short amount of time. So, it is BEHAVIOR that really is the key point concerning D.P., with DISAGREEMENT by Americans on whether Drug Prohibition laws are Constitutional or not. And if that is the real question, then the whole notion of a so-called War on Drugs is not only un-American, but truly evil and against foundational principles of Governance ceeding an absolute right to individual liberty — no matter how political or socially repulsive it is to others — so that one can practice their Religious Beliefs without government retribution, as long as by doing so they do not infringe on the enumerated rights of others.
Turning to Cannabis, according to the CJCJ, half of California’s cannabis possession arrestees were non white in 1990, with 28% under age 20. Last year, 62% were non white and 42% were under age 20. Cannabis possession arrests of youth of color rose from approximately 3,100 in 1990 to about 16,300 in 2008 – 300% greater than the rate of population growth in that group.
Black Americans, who make up less than 7% of the state population, account for 22% of people arrested for all Cannabis offenses and 33% of all Cannabis felony arrests.
The FACTS reveal that the history of Hemp and Cannabis is filled with:
- Protection of Corporate Profits
- Yellow Journalism
- Ignorant, Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators
- Personal Career Advancement and Greed
- Cannabis has been illegal for less than 1% of the time that it’s been in use
- Its known uses go back further than 7,000 B.C.
- The hemp plant has an incredible 25,000 uses today, with the earliest known woven fabric apparently made of hemp. Over time it has been used for food, paper, rope, cloth, incense, cloth, rope, oil and much more.
- The first U.S. Cannabis law was enacted at Jamestown Colony, Virginia in 1619. These Puritans knew that hemp would be invaluable to them so they proceeded in “ordering” all farmers to grow Indian hempseed.
- Several other “must grow” Cannabis laws were enacted over the next 200 years (a person could be jailed for not growing hemp during times of shortage in Virginia between 1763 and 1767)
- During most of that time hemp was legal tender (you could pay your taxes with hemp)
- Hemp was such a critical crop that the government strongly encourage people to grow it.
- The U.S. Census of 1850 counted 8,327 hemp “plantations” (minimum 2,000-acre farm) growing cannabis hemp for cloth, canvas and other things such as the cordage used for bailing cotton
- In the early 1900s, the western states developed significant tensions with the influx of Mexican-Americans, with California apparently passed the first state Cannabis Law, outlawing “preparations of hemp, or loco weed”
- Other states quickly followed with Cannabis Prohibition laws, including Wyoming (1915), Texas (1919), Iowa (1923), Nevada (1923), Oregon (1923), Washington (1923), Arkansas (1923), and Nebraska (1927), with the laws tending to be specifically targeted against the Mexican-American population
- When Montana outlawed Cannabis in 1927, the Butte Montana Standard reported a legislator’s comment: “When some beet field peon takes a few traces of this stuff…he thinks he has just been elected president of Mexico, so he starts out to execute all his political enemies.”
- In Texas, a Senator said on the floor of the Senate: “All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy.”
- In the eastern states, the “problem” of Cannabis was attributed to a combination of Latin Americans and Black jazz musicians, where Cannabis became part of the music scene (Louis Armstrong’s “Muggles”, Cab Calloway’s “That Funny Reefer Man,” Fats Waller’s “Viper’s Drag”)
- Newspapers in 1934 editorialized: “Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”
- Dr. A. E. Fossier wrote in the 1931 New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal: “Under the influence of hashish those fanatics would madly rush at their enemies, and ruthlessly massacre every one within their grasp.”
- Within a short period of time, Cannabis began being linked with violent behavior.
It is important to note that earlier (1914), the Harrison Act was passed, which provided federal tax penalties for opiates and cocaine. It was considered at the time that the federal government did not have the constitutional power to actually outlaw alcohol or drugs, and this is why Alcohol Prohibition required a Constitutional Amendment.
At that time the judiciary regularly placed the Tenth Amendment in the path of Congressional regulation of “local” affairs, with the direct regulation of medical practice considered beyond Congressional power under the Commerce Clause. But since drugs couldn’t be outlawed at the federal level, they decided to use federal taxes as a way around the restriction. The Harrison Act caused legal uses of opiates and cocaine to be taxed (supposedly as a way to get revenue, as this was the only way it would hold up in the Courts).
Starting in 1930 with a new division in the Treasury Department being established called the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Harry J. Anslinger as its director, marked the beginning of an all-out war against Cannabis.
Here are some quotes which have been attributed to Anslinger and his Gore Files:
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”
“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
“Marijuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”
“You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”
“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
“In the year 1090, there was founded in Persia the religious and military order of the Assassins, whose history is one of cruelty, barbarity, and murder, and for good reason: the members were confirmed users of hashish, or marijuana, and it is from the Arabs’ ‘hashashin’ that we have the English word ‘assassin.’”
Harry Anslinger got some help with his Crusade from William Randolf Hearst, owner of a huge chain of newspapers. Hearst had hated Mexicans and had invested heavily in the timber industry, seeing hemp as a direct threat to his newspaper chain and didn’t want to see the development of hemp paper in competition.
Here are a couple of outlandish quotes of his:
“By the tons it is coming into this country — the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms…. Marijuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marijuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him….”
“Was it marijuana, the new Mexican drug, that nerved the murderous arm of Clara Phillips when she hammered out her victim’s life in Los Angeles?… THREE-FOURTHS OF THE CRIMES of violence in this country today are committed by DOPE SLAVES — that is a matter of cold record.”
Here are some more sources of information about Cannabis and Hemp:
• The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States By Charles Whitebread, Professor of Law, USC Law School.
• THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT AND THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE: AN INQUIRY INTO THE LEGAL HISTORY OF AMERICAN MARIJUANA PROHIBITION By Richard J. Bonnie & Charles H. Whitebread, II.
• The Consumers Union Report – Licit and Illicit Drugs
By Edward M. Brecher and the Editors of Consumer Reports Magazine
• The History of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937
By David F. Musto, M.D., New Haven, Conn.
• The Report of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse
Control of Marijuana, Alcohol and Tobacco. History of Marijuana Legislation
• The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937
The history of how the Marijuana Tax Act came to be the law of the land
• Marijuana – The First Twelve Thousand Years By Ernest L. Abel
Remember that one of the very first things people say when asked about Drug Prohibition and the War on Drugs is a COLLECTIVE ARGUMENT response about the “safety” of society (or children) or a POLITICAL ARGUMENT about whether illegal drugs are “good” for an individual. Remember too, that you can put the words “food,” “cigarettes,” “alcohol,” “caffeine” and virtuously any other “dangerous” drug or entity that one can consume in place of “cannabis” or “cocaine” or “hash.” So, because Conservatives, Republicans and others have supported the War on Drugs in the past, they should now speak out against the War on Drugs, since they really are not racist nor Communist at heart — or are they???
Thanks for listening, 777denny
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