What socio-political force would be strong enough to turn Americans against something as innocent as a plant – let alone one which so many people had an interest in using to improve their own lives?
Earlier, you read how the first federal anti-marijuana laws (1937) came about because of William Randolph Hearst’s lies, yellow journalism and racist newspaper articles and ravings, which from then on were cited in Congressional testimony by Harry Anslinger as facts.
But what started Hearst on the marijuana and racist scare stories? What intelligence or ignorance, for which we still punish fellow Americans to the tune of 16 million years in jails and prisons in just the last 70 years, (786,545 arrested in 2005 alone for marijuana, more than twice as many as 1990) – brought this all about?
The first step was to introduce the element of fear of the unknown by using a word that no one had ever heard of before: “marijuana.”
The next step was to keep the maneuverings hidden from the doctors, scientists and hemp industries who would have defended hemp. This was done by holding most of the hearings on prohibition in secret.
And, finally, prohibitionists set out to stir up primal emotions and tap right into an existing pool of hatred that was already poisoning society: racism.