When it comes to marijuana, people always ask two questions: Why is it illegal? Why are people being sent to prison for either selling or using it?
Some people assume that someone, somewhere analyzed scientific evidence, and came to the conclusion that cannabis is bad for you, much worse than alcohol and cigarettes. But that’s hardly the case.
When Johann Hari started looking through the official archives, there was hardly any proof to suggest that this was why marijuana was banned back in the 1930s.
Blame it on Harry Anslinger, Really
At some point, alcohol prohibition ended and Mr. Anslinger was left with a department that really had nothing to do.
Up until that point, he had no problem whatsoever with cannabis saying that it never harmed people much less caused them to become violent after consuming it.
According to him, you would first fall into a delirious rage, then be gripped by dreams of an erotic character, lose the power of connected thought which in turn would finally lead to insanity.
In other words, marijuana would turn a man into a wild beast. Even Frankenstein would drop dead in fear of this herb.
Hari also discovered that Ansliger’s obsession with marijuana was related to one particular case where a boy by the name of Victor Licata chopped his family to death with an axe. Anslinger went on to use this case to explain that this is what would happen if one smoked marijuana. As a result, people, and especially parents, were terrified.
But what evidence did Anslinger have? He did write to 30 scientists asking them if marijuana was harmful and should be banned. While 29 of them said no, one actually answered in the affirmative.
Anslinger decided to pick this case and presented it to the world. Given the horror of Licata’s case in Florida, the press also ran with it. Soon, there was panic in the United States, which soon led the States instructing other countries to ban the drug as well.
Even though a number of people informed Anslinger of his misjudgment, he refused to back down. He also denied any kind of funding to research the effects of the drug as well.
This might be why we’re still living with the ban that Anslinger set in motion, thanks to the panic of Licata’s murderous axe.
Yet, what makes this situation even more awkward is that when one looked at Licata’s file, there was no evidence that he used cannabis at all. In fact, his family had a history of mental illness and had been advised to place him in a mental institution at the time, which they refused to their own unfortunate peril.
Does Science Back Cannabis?
But what about cannabis making people mad?
Apparently, it doesn’t! When cannabis use goes up, psychosis does not go up as it should.
What scientific evidence does suggest is that cannabis is safer than alcohol: 40,000 people die due to the latter each year while no one dies from cannabis. This was proved when Mason Tvert challenged the Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper to a duel of hits – you know, cannabis versus beer. He also went on to campaign for the legalization of marijuana, and thanks to 55 percent of voters managed to get it done. Not only has the support for the legalization of marijuana increased but the Governor also called it ‘common sense’.
Still, no one in Colorado has hacked their family to death just yet. So, isn’t it time that we gave serious consideration to the science behind marijuana and burry the Licata’s axe for good?