War on Drugs Game Changer

The History of the War on Drugs in America. At the turn of the 20th century, there was little to no regulation on drugs. People bought and sold cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and other drugs freely and legally. It was possible to go into a drugstore and buy a medicinal syrup mixed with cocaine. This is obviously not the way things are today, and the road from near total deregulation to draconian federal restrictions was paved more with racist politics than with actual concern for people’s health. The first step toward the war on drugs was one that clearly needed to be taken, for public safety. There were no laws regulating what could and could not be sold, how drugs could be advertised, how pure the drugs had to be, or even if they had to be proven to treat the diseases they claimed to cure. Therefore there was very much a “let the buyer beware” culture regarding drugs and medicine, and it was an actual possibility that a customer would buy a remedy which would actually prove to be harmful or fake.

Protecting consumers

In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed to guarantee that foods and drugs which customers bought would meet certain standards of purity and quality. In 1912, the Act was expanded to protect against false and misleading advertisements. These necessary restrictions on the sale of drugs helped to make the public safer, but they also laid the legal groundwork for the later “War on Drugs.” The Pure Food and Drug Act meant that people could be confident that the foods and drugs they were buying were pure, clean, and actually why they were advertised as. It also set the legal framework for the government regulating drugs, which is what actually happened through the 20th century. Even more importantly, the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 recognized the problem of addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine, put limits on the prescriptions that were allowed for these kinds of drugs, and put penalties on doctors who prescribed addictive drugs in order to let addicts get their fix. This was the first step in criminalizing heroine and cocaine.   War On Drugs  

Reefer Madness

The real war on marijuana started in the 1930s, after alcohol prohibition had ended and coincidentally with a massive popular dislike of Mexican-American immigrants. Immigrant groups tend to become the scapegoats for general dissatisfaction during times of economic uncertainty, and during the 1930s the United States was deep in the midst of the Great Depression. Because of the perception that marijuana was especially popular with Mexicans, the government launched an offensive against the drug. The Treasury created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, with Harry Anslinger at its head. This group lobbied for harsher laws against marijuana and harsher penalties for marijuana users, but it didn’t stop there. It also put out tons of propaganda, including completely false claims about how marijuana caused users to go into violent, murderous rages. The film “Reefer Madness” is the most notorious example of this propaganda, and it caused confusion about the effects and dangers of marijuana for decades.

Marijuana and Immigration

Nixon was the President who first began the “War on Drugs” in earnest, and the first public policy proposal he enacted connected with the war on drugs revels the isolationist, racist roots of the war: he closed the border with Mexico. Nixon and his advisors created and fed the belief that Mexicans were smuggling drugs in from our southern border, and he used this as an excuse to shut down travel and create major restrictions on immigration from Mexico.

Marijuana and Vietnam

Nixon didn’t just have Mexicans as his enemy: he also was at war, domestically, with pacifists and hippies. This was because he was at war, internationally, with Vietnam. Nixon’s drug reforms shut down the border with Mexico, but they also were designed to (and were effective at) putting a lot of anti war hippies in jail. Years after these debilitating policies were put in place, a top advisor in the Nixon administration came forward and revealed that the war on drugs was largely a political way to shut down blacks (by connecting them with heroin) and hippies (by connecting them with weed).

Marijuana and Pharmaceuticals War on Drugs

So the prohibition and war on drugs, particularily against marijuana had its roots in racist and warmongering ideas. But how did this prohibition continue to have political power through the years, so that Congress continued (and continues) to vote in favor of harsh restrictions on a plant that grows natively and wild throughout the United States? The answer to this can be found in lobbying from pharmaceutical companies. Marijuana is nearly the perfect medicine. It is one of the most effective painkillers we can get our hands on, and it doesn’t have anywhere near the addictive and mind-altering effects that perfectly legal opioids such as oxycodone (OxyContin) have. It has been proven over and over again to be extremely effective against seizures. It can treat mental illnesses. It can even treat cancer tumors. And it’s cheap. Anyone can grow it and use it. No wonder it scares the pants off pharmaceutical companies – they make billions of dollars a year charging high prices for their medicines which don’t even treat the illnesses they’re prescribed for as well as marijuana would. If you want to know who benefits from banning marijuana, look at the money and at the funding. When Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin, is funding an anti-drug rally, or when lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry are the biggest supporters of anti-drug legislation, it’s pretty clear where the trail of money leads. Pharmaceutical company would miss out on billions and trillions of dollars if their patients could treat themselves by lighting up a joint from an herb they grew in their windowsill. Is it any wonder that these companies fight so hard to keep their customers from being able to do just that?

War on Drugs Game Changer – The Future of Marijuana

The connection between Big Pharma and marijuana prohibition leads to some worrying observations about the future of marijuana. Namely, what sort of restrictions will be placed on marijuana when the Legalize It movement finally wins? Will we still be prohibited from growing it ourselves, and instead be forced to buy it for massively marked-up prices from Bayer? Will the plant itself be forbidden, and only pills made from active concentrates extracted from the plant or lab-produced to mimic the compounds in cannabis be allowed? One thing is for certain: powerful, greedy corporations will not willingly give up their cash cow. If corporate lobbyists have anything to say about marijuana legalization, we will be paying just as much for our pot as we do now for our anti seizure medication, our opioid painkillers, and our chemotherapy.

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