Cannabis Oil – Why such crazy controversy?
Mention cannabis oil, hemp oil or medical marijuana to the uninformed and you will notice an immediate negative reaction from them. Ignorant folks will literally recoil at the idea, as if they were facing off with a dangerous viper of sorts.
You could almost use the phrase to chase unwanted guests from your house. Simply repeat “Oil of cannabis” in a low and menacing tone and watch their eyes bulge in fear as they beat a hasty retreat to the exits.
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Why such a negative reaction?
By way of introduction, I shall begin explaining the difference between the terms hemp, marijuana and cannabis. This will be followed by a brief, yet interesting history lesson. Once you understand the basics, you will be able to see for yourself exactly how ludicrous the situation truly is. Oil of cannabis is not the dangerous narcotic that many are led to believe.
Hemp is a harmless, fast growing plant which has no psycho-active properties. It has been used for thousands of years to make hemp oil, rope and textiles. It is impossible to get high from hemp, no matter how much of it you smoke or consume. If you sat down and smoked an entire ton of hemp in one sitting, your lungs would take serious strain but you would not get stoned. This is because hemp does not produce sufficient THC to affect humans.
Marijuana does produce sufficient levels of THC to affect humans. Consumption results in a mild state of euphoria. It has been used recreationally for thousands of years across all major continents. Marijuana has been proven to be less harmful than alcohol and is legal across several states.
Both hemp and marijuana are part of the cannabis family. You could think of them as distant cousins. Although related, and indeed look very similar, the two are completely different plants. Just as cats and lions are related through the feline family, they are very different animals. No one expects you to walk up and pat a lion. There is nothing wrong with stroking a friendly cat.
If weed is so harmless, why is it banned in some parts?
The persecution of marijuana began with racism. Up until the early 1900’s, marijuana was perfectly legal in the USA. As Mexico went through the revolution of 1910, the Western states saw a large influx of Mexicans who were competing for jobs. Tensions increased during the Great Depression. Small farmers could not compete with large farms who relied on cheap labour from immigrants.
Mexicans, who smoked marijuana, became quite successful. Jealous and angry farmers began persecuting them. One Texas senator is quoted as saying “All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy.” In 1927, the Butte Montana Standard quoted another senator “When some beet field peon takes a few traces of this stuff… he thinks he has just been elected president of Mexico, so he starts out to execute all his political enemies.”
Mexican pot smokers weren’t the only ones to have hatred spewed at them. Blacks received the brunt of it. In 1934, newspapers were reporting that “Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”
Black people and satanic music
Marijuana began to receive real prejudice in 1930. This was due to one man’s drive for career advancement. Harry Anslinger was head of the newly formed Bureau of Narcotics, which was supposed to tackle cocaine and heroin trafficking. Anslinger capitalized on racism and began associating marijuana with violence. Here are a few quotes attributed to this individual.
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”
“You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”
All these blatantly racist and completely unfounded statements were used to create fear and cement a need for his department. Such actions are nothing short of despicable.
Lies propaganda and greed
William Randolf Hearst was the owner of a large chain of newspapers. He had invested heavily in timber plantations to support his business. He did not want hemp paper to be any competition. Hearst hated Mexicans and had lost a sizeable timber plantation to Pancho Villa. Fabricating sensationalism and lies about violent Mexicans under the satanic influence of marijuana sold newspapers. This made him wealthy.
Quoting the San Francisco Examiner “Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid spectres.”
In a nationwide column “Was it marijuana, the new Mexican drug, that nerved the murderous arm of Clara Phillips when she hammered out her victim’s life in Los Angeles?”
Corporate profits and racist legislation
Hearst was not the only person determined to protect the corporate profits of his timber. Tobacco companies began wielding enormous political influence. Bribery and corruption from the wealthy tobacco companies led to politicians implementing petty racist legislation.
Anslinger, armed with a mountain of drivel Hearst had fabricated, went before congress and declared “The fatal marihuana cigarette must be recognized as a deadly drug, and American children must be protected against it.”
He was opposed by Dr. William C. Woodward, Legislative Council of the American Medical Association. Woodward criticized Anslinger and the Bureau of Narcotics for distorting earlier AMA statements that had nothing to do with marijuana and making them appear to be AMA endorsement for Anslinger’s view.
Woodward also questioned the legislature for using the term marijuana in the legislation and not publicizing it as a bill about cannabis or hemp. He questioned the approach of the hearings and virtually accused Anslinger of misconduct.
Committee members then proceeded to attack Dr. Woodward, questioning his motives in opposing the legislation. If the newspapers had reported on the dangers of marijuana, there must be some substance to their claims! After a heated exchange the bill outlawing marijuana was passed on August 2nd 1937. Lies, greed, politics, racism and scaremongering had won over medical science.
And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why marijuana and oil of cannabis became illegal.
Author: Andrea Durrheim