The people almost never want war but jingoism uses hyperbole and fear to coerce the public. Let’s look at some of the bigger and more humorous lies we have been told in support of Reefer Madness.
In order to prosecute their War on Drugs our government has had to concoct some pretty outrageous lies. No responsible person is going to support prohibition of a harmless substance. Even prohibition of something harmful, such as alcohol, had failed. In order to justify the War on Drugs, drugs not only had to be bad but the worst thing ever. Most people are familiar with the now cult classic Refer Madness. In this movie the innocent small town boy tries marijuana then goes on a psychotic killing spree. Amazingly, though it is one of the most popular and well known, this is not the biggest lie the drug warriors have told.
Harry Anslinger was the first director of the Bureau of Narcotics, the forerunner to the DEA. He took office in 1930. This should have been bad timing for Harry as the 18th amendment banning alcohol was repealed just three years later. When threatened with the potential loss of his job, Harry went on the offensive. He knew there was not enough opium, morphine, and cocaine usage in America to justify an entire department. Harry had to put marijuana, which was used by more people on the same level as those drugs. To this end he gave us some of the greatest examples of American big-lie politics.
- “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
- “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
- “Your smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother”
His office also put out many of the now famous propaganda posters that make claims about the dangers of marijuana. These slogans often played on Judeo-Christian themes of evil. Phrases such as “the Devil’s harvest” and “the weed with roots in hell” provided no context about the drug other than that it is to be feared.