Part EIGHT of War on Drugs series – more on the history of cannabis.
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* I like this one from The Indianapolis News, 15 Jul 1904, Fri
* The Tampa Tribune Tampa, Florida, Saturday, March 6, 1926
* As listeners of our Syria series might remember, the connection between ‘hashish’ and ‘assassins’ is considerd to be bullshit by modern scholars.
* It was coined in the 11th century to describe the Hashshashins – the group of Ismaili Shia who waged guerilla warfare agains the Sunni and the Christian Crusaders.
* It’s where we get the word “assassin”.
* It was claimed by some sources, including Marco Polo, that the leader of the order would get his assassins to use hashish before they went on their assassinations.
* Now – anyone who has smoked a joint knows how likely THAT is.
* And modern scholars think the connection between the two words is just confusion because the words for hashish and assassins sounded similar.
* Detroit Free Press Detroit, Michigan, Sunday, December 30, 1928
* So what was driving these increasing stories of the horrors of cannabis?
* We all know they are bullshit – although it’s true that some people can have psychotic episodes, the vast majority of people don’t react that way.
* Is it the media just looking for something to drive fears into the hearts of the population?
* Cannabis only started to become a public issue in the US after the Spanish American war when more Mexicans started to immigrate to the US.
* The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) then increased the flow: war refugees and political exiles fled to the United States to escape the violence.
* Mexicans also left rural areas in search of stability and employment.
* As a result, Mexican migration to the United States rose sharply.
* The number of legal migrants grew from around 20,000 migrants per year during the 1910s to about 50,000 – 100,000 migrants per year during the 1920s.
* This was partly driven by American capitalists looking for cheap labour.
* The 1924 immigration bill lowered the number of immgrants coming in from Europe, to industry turned to Mexico.
* Especially the railroads and the sugar beet industry.
* They could get Mexicans to work for a lot less than Americans would demand.
* The protests against the Mexicans most came from the labor movement, ultra-patriotic groups and civic groups in the Southwest who blamed Mexicans for an increase in crime.
* So A lot of Mexicans immigrated to the States and the usual “whites only” crowd started up with the typical anti immigration rhetoric.
* And as the Mexicans likes to smoke cannabis, so it started to get associated with evil Mexicans coming to take your jobs and rape your women.
* In 1914, El Paso Texas became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to ban the sale and possession of marijuana.
* This ban gave police the right to search, detain and question Mexican immigrants without reason, except the suspicion that they were in possession of marijuana.
* Here’s the Belvidere Daily Republican, Belvidere, Illinois
* Saturday, September 4, 1915
* I found this great article in the Santa Ana Register, Santa Ana, California from Monday, September 20, 1915
* It claims to be a letter to the Sheriff of Orange Country from a Spaniard, warning him about the dangers of the “murder weed”.
* In one section he says:
* The plant was first outlawed statewide in Utah in 1915, and by 1931 it was illegal in 29 states.
* The Sun New York, New York
* Thursday, August 26, 1915
* Now educated medical people knew well before this that cannabis didn’t cause psychosis in most people.
* The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report, completed in 1894, was an Indo-British study of cannabis usage in India.
* The Government of India convened a seven-member commission to look into the effects of cannabis, commencing their study on 3 July 1893.
* The report the Commission produced was at least 3,281 pages long, with testimony from almost 1,200 “doctors, coolies, yogis, fakirs, heads of lunatic asylums, bhang peasants, tax gatherers, smugglers, army officers, hemp dealers, ganja palace operators and the clergy.”
* They visited asylums all over India to study the prevailing belief that consumption of ganja causes insanity.
* Their report stated: In respect to the alleged mental effects of the drugs, the Commission have come to the conclusion that the moderate use of hemp drugs produces no injurious effects on the mind.”
* They also concluded “In regard to the moral effects of the drugs, the Commission are of opinion that their moderate use produces no moral injury whatever.”
* Nonetheless, In Britain itself, in 1928 in accordance with the 1925 International Opium Convention, the United Kingdom first prohibited cannabis as a drug, adding cannabis as an addendum to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1920.
* 40 years later, in 1968, the Wootton Report, a Home Office investigation into the effects of cannabis again concluded it was completely harmless. But nothing changed.
* As for Australia, Hemp seeds were part of the cargo of the First Fleet when it landed on Australian shores.
* And trust me – if you’d spent six months on a leaky boat coming out to this place, you’d want to get high too.
* SIX MONTHS IN A LEAKY BOAT
* Hemp was grown for more than 150 years with the support of the Australian government for commercial reasons.
* In the 1920s Australia joined other developing nations when it signed the 1925 Geneva Convention on Opium and Other Drugs.
* This put cannabis in the same class as heroin, cocaine and other hard drugs even though its use was mostly medical.
* Australia did no research into the use or effects of cannabis before banning it.
* Most laws around drugs were originally in respect to opium, but Australia came under pressure to enact legislation in line with the Geneva Convention.
* In 1928, Victoria outlawed cannabis.
* All other states of Australia did the same over the next 30 years.
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