The book “Brave New Weed: Adventures into the Uncharted World of Cannabis” is a look into the American war on weed by author Joe Dolce. The history of “weed” is a long one, with some scholars reporting that there is documentary evidence of medicinal use that is 5,000 years old. Dolce mainly comments on the last eight decades, because before that, no one really had anything against the herb, then called by its botanical name, cannabis.
Author Joe Dolce takes the bull by the horns and head-butts those responsible for giving cannabis a bad name.
PBS.org published an extract and the author’s brief, but spectacular viewpoint on weed, as he puts it. His book was not something that made his mom proud. She was quite upset by him writing about such a “socially unacceptable” topic. However, her attitude softened after he relieved the pain she had in her legs with some cannabis ointment.
War on drugs motivated by racial issues
Dolce looks at the war on drugs as having been motivated by racial issues. Every household in America knew cannabis very well, as it was an ingredient in almost all commonly used medicines and tinctures of the 1900’s.
At the same time, the Mexican Revolution brought many immigrants from Mexico to states such as Texas and Louisiana. The immigrants brought with them their customs, language and culture. They often used cannabis to relax and as a medicine. Mexican immigrants referred to the plant as “marihuana”. When the media at the time started spreading unfounded propaganda, marihuana became synonymous with dark colored men becoming violent and soliciting sex with white women. Americans didn’t realize they all had extracts of the same plant in their medicine chest.
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The Marijuana Tax Act
he Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 banned its use and sale. The new law against cannabis gave government authorities an excuse to search people, detain them and then deport them. Artists, musicians and singers such as Anita O’Day were arrested and stigmatized. Chinese immigrants had been treated in much the same way because of opium.
Dolce puts the blame on an official by the name of Harry Anslinger, who ran the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. He also led the 1936 Trafficking Convention in Geneva. Although some countries objected to the harsh criminalization of all cannabis-related activities, the US refused to sign the final version as it was considered too weak.
Controlled substances to control people
During the early seventies, Nixon associated hippies with the use of marijuana. He also ignored the Schafer Commission’s recommendation that cannabis should not be Schedule 1 after the Controlled Substance act in the 70’s was put in place and substances were allotted schedules.
The 80’s saw Reagan taking the war on drugs to new, toxic levels by spraying the dangerous herbicide paraquat, conducting raids on suspects, and by enforcing minimum drug sentencing laws.
The 90’s saw the first state to legalize medicinal use under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 in California. California has passed the 20-year mark and recently legalized recreational use. Parents will rather let their children use cannabis than alcohol, says Dolce. He sees this as an interesting societal change in perception.
Dosage will become clear
With legalization gaining momentum, Dolce sees the dosage becoming more transparent. Just like we know a shot of Vodka is not the same as a glass of wine, we will soon get to understand the right doses for cannabis.
Where does all this leave hemp, and how did it ever become illegal? Now there is another complicated story Dolce might consider, filled with even more interesting facts that are stranger than fiction.
Primary source: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/history-american-war-weed/