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“Prohibition… goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.” December 1840, Abraham Lincoln.
It is time the veil be pulled from the eyes of the people. It is time that the government’s profiteering and its guise of morality be revealed. It is time that this war be seen for what it truly is: the exploitation of the people’s trust to meet the desires of a few, more commonly known today as the War on Drugs, or rather, as it began, the war on marijuana.
Before this story unfolds, it is important to understand for a moment the box in which we live…
Americans today are born into a time of restriction; an era of deception and misinformation. The people are strictly governed and closely observed by faceless authorities with, what seems to be, limitless power disguised as representative government. This is a system designed to give the illusion of control. The reality today is that an entity with all the power can ultimately make what they want to happen, appear to be what was voted for. Today’s system, in a perfect world, has everything necessary to succeed. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world, and this country is subject to the simple flaws of human nature.
Today’s generation was thrown into a world of rules and false justifications without the necessary tools to live the life that this country’s ancestors fought so hard to make possible. The one most important tool to speak of is freedom of choice. This nation was founded on the simple concept of individual freedom. Do not confuse that with the freedom of the government, because as a country they have the freedom to do whatever they see as “the right thing” regardless of how others may feel on the matter. That kind of freedom comes with the amount of power the US has as a nation, which is they wielded by the government lording over that nation; consumer power, nuclear power, man power, basically freedom by force.
However, as individuals, Americans do not have the same such freedoms. The people are told what they can and cannot do with their own bodies, and told this is “freedom,” with the caveat being that such control is necessary to keep everyone safe from the dangers which are absurdly created by that very government’s negligent foreign policy. Yet that is an article for another time. They are conditioned from an early age to follow what they are told is the “American dream.” Which in truth, is what is best for the American elite, and if any stray from this path, they are outcasts seen as the “misguided few,” when in reality, they could very well be the “misguided majority,” and they would never be the wiser with the astounding level of social, economic and emotional control exerted over the American populace today.
It’s amazing and altogether unnerving to see the choices that have been made by this country’s predecessors, as well as its current administration, and what the driving force behind those choices were. As sentient beings, it is every individual’s ability to recall the past, which allows them to effectively change the future. The topic of cannabis is only one point, of which there are many, that one can choose to make a foundation of arguments discussing the unjust and outright criminal actions American leaders have taken, or simply allowed to take place, in the history of the war on drugs.
From 1313 to 1375 Europe was hit with the deadly “black death” (a plague killing nearly 25 million) and marijuana was the primary, and one of the only aids during this time despite being frowned upon by the church. In the following years there were many who began to ridicule the church’s lack of help for the sickly and dying during that horrible time. This upset the church and contributed to the decision to label all woman herbalists, and even midwives, as witches. In 1484 Pope Innocent VIII decided to label cannabis an unholy sacrament of the satanic mass, and issued a papal ban on cannabis medicines. What’s interesting, is that many average citizens within this current melting pot of misfits and misguided souls that is the United States, would blindly follow just such a decree purely on blind faith. The truth is, blind faith is a powerful thing and is something that no individual should be without; sometimes it is necessary to seek the truth based on what you feel is right. Yet, one should never blindly follow for fear of going against societal norms, or due to some half forgotten and wholly misunderstood political allegiance. Sadly, that is exactly what most do, both in politics and religion. This papal ban was the first time the church had taken an official stance on marijuana. This is where it all began.
Before the Pope’s ban on marijuana, cannabis was seen from a different light. From the beginning of time cannabis has been used, cultivated and praised. Cannabis itself being one of human kinds longest surviving root words. One can follow it all the way back to 8000 B.C. where the earliest known fabric was woven from hemp. Years after the Pope had labeled marijuana satanic, in 1563 Queen Elizabeth ordered land owners to grow cannabis if they had 60 or more acres, implementing a fine if they chose not to. One year later King Philip orders the same throughout his entire empire.
The people began to realized that despite the Pope’s decree, cannabis was indispensable to the point of forced cultivation. Later in 1619 the Virginia Assembly passed legislation that required all farmers to cultivate hemp, and shortly after was allowed to exchange hands as legal tender in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The American colonies continued using hemp as common currency all the way up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, on hemp paper, in 1776.
Now at this point, in the pre-United States history, hemp is a crucial part of everyday life from medicinal use right down to the canvas sails and rope on their ships. The word canvas is derived from the Vulgar Latin cannapaceus meaning “made of hemp” which originates from the Greek word for cannabis. It would appear to an outside viewer that despite the archaic papal ban, the United States and cannabis had quite the relationship that seemed to have a healthy future. So what changed?
In the late nineteenth century the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa and his troops, known for their marijuana consumption, had reclaimed some 800,000 acres of prime timber from William Randolph Hearst in the name of the Mexican peasants. The Hearsts were one of the most prominent and influential families in the United States. The Hearst Corporation owned a major logging company that produced tree pulp into paper along with a major news paper company. At the time the paper being produced was chemically drenched and generally low quality. With his timber gone Hearst was in danger of his tree pulp paper being replaced by a lower costing, higher quality, chemical free product. Hemp. They were not the only company that stood to lose money to this superior product.
A petrochemical company by the name of Du Pont was developing a new and expensive chemical treatment for paper pulp in addition to many other fossil fuel based synthetics and gasoline additives. With companies like Ford creating new techniques to extract methanol, charcoal fuel, and other fuels from hemp–the same fundamental ingredients for industry being made from fossil fuels–at a much lower cost and less environmental strain, it was prized to fill just about every industrial need the nation currently had. Du Pont had everything to lose with the rise of hemp.
Following the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the average American was introduced to the recreational use of marijuana for the first time when Mexican immigrants migrated into the United States in record numbers. Killing two birds with one stone, Du Pont and Hearst started an anti-marijuana propaganda campaign associating the marijuana use with Mexican immigrants and creating fear and prejudice about the Spanish-speaking new-comers, calling them the “Marijuana Menace” and attributing terrible crimes to the “dangerous substance” and those who used it.
Hearst began using his newspaper tycoon status and releasing false and unjustified stories about the evils of marijuana. The word “Marihuana,” which at the time was the first appearance of the word, was chosen due to its lack of use and understanding. The average citizen had never heard the word. They could never imagine that this terrible “Marihuana” was the same material being used in every aspect of their daily life, but rather, only saw the “Mexican invasion of their refined American ways,” just as they were sold.
This use of misdirection and outright deception was not an accident. They knew the only way to slowly weed out hemp from the country (no pun intended) was to keep the focus on the“terrible drug using immigrants” and their “unknown” substance. This is not to suggest that marijuana is without its downsides(yet they are few and far between), however, at the time this came to pass, recreational use of cannabis was present yet paled in comparison to the many current uses and possible future ventures that could have changed the course of the nation.
In 1930 Henry Ford successfully created a motor vehicle made of hemp, with paint made from hemp, that ran on one hundred percent hemp fuel. This may seem like an odd concept today, but prior to the nineteen hundreds, hemp was the assumed choice. In 1896 when Rudolph Diesel created his engine, he was expecting it to run on vegetable and seed oils, primarily hemp, which is far superior than petroleum for many reasons, but primarily due to the fact that, from seed to harvest, hemp takes no more than four to five months to come to full fruition. Not to mention the fact that it’s a plant; its one hundred percent renewable.
The real kicker is beginning to see the future that was stolen from the American people, one not dependent on an inferior foreign oil. A future that was lost when men in positions of power chose personal gain over the future generations of the planet, possibly without even fully grasping what they had done, all leading to the future irresponsible US foreign policy choices that would intentionally create an artificial dependency based solely on profit.
Later in 1930 a ground breaking new machine was invented that could break and process hemp and convert the pulp into paper. Hemp has been made into paper for thousands of years but this machine could make it faster and more efficiently than that of tree pulp. Despite this new and possibly revolutionary direction, the anti-marijuana campaign pressed on.
Six years later director Louis Gasnier produced “Reefer Madness” at the behest of the anti-marijuana campaign, which was meant to be perceived as a fact based documentary on the dangers of marijuana use; suggesting uncontrollable crimes as severe as murder and rape if the substance was consumed. They knew when releasing these claims that they were not founded on any factual basis but rather meant to change a long-standing positive view of a substance that threatened their complete control of the nation’s industrial needs. Most who have seen the video today would classify the film as a comedy or “spoof” if you will. Today the video is in fact cataloged under comedy any where it can be found. However, at the time, it was taken as fact and quite literally shifted the public view.
A year later, this directly led to the passing of the “Marijuana Tax Act” which, despite its name, was sold to the American people as the complete criminalization of any and all forms of marijuana except for those who paid a tax that allowed them “restricted possession rights for authorized medical and industrial purposes.” This gave the-powers-that-be the ability to tax and use hemp for their own ends when it was felt necessary, while making it seem to the public that is was made illegal. If they truly perceived cannabis as dangerous as it was made to appear, the fact that it was allowed to be used for any purpose after the passing of the Act speaks volumes. In as little as three years later, the Act was disregarded when it was realized that hemp was drastically needed during the start of World War II. This began the “Hemp for Victory” campaign where seeds where actually given out to be grown, (375,000 acres of hemp were grown during thus time) and it was so needed, that those who chose to participate would be granted draft deferments.
Only ten years later, when no longer seen as a war necessity, hemp was once again deemed dangerous and illegal.
The answer to the question of “why these decisions were made,” is undeniable when the facts are understood. A wealthy family of the United States with the help of a leading American company, who collectively had their political fingers in all matters of importance, chose to put their own desire for money and power above that of the nation that allowed them to flourish. Ladies and gentlemen, this has been the downfall of every democratic society since the beginning of time. The moment those who are meant to be of the people for the people begin to allow their choices to be dictated by selfish ends, is the moment one finds themselves no longer in a democracy. Today, in a country where it has been deemed un-American to say such things, a statement like that can be shocking, but when the facts are seen, it becomes one’s duty as an American to see the Truth before the cosmetically enhanced lie.
Sources: http://jackherer.com/emperor-3/, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2010.00324.x/abstract, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canvas, http://www.hempshopper.com/en/hemp-history-ce/112-1484, http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.timeline.php?timelineID=000026#2900-bc-1599, https://books.google.com/books/This-Is-Cannabis