When alcohol prohibition ended in 1933, the anti-booze bureaucracy turned its attention to cannabis, and Harry Anslinger—the former second in command at the Prohibition Bureau—led the charge with claims that cannabis caused people to murder, rape and steal. Anslinger achieved his goal of cannabis prohibition 80 years ago this summer, and the judge who condemned the first offender declared, “Marijuana [is] the worst of all narcotics, far worse than the use of morphine or cocaine. Under its influence men become beasts. Marijuana destroys life itself.”
Quite the overstatement, no?
Well, a lot of people thought so, and by the 1940s, the public largely dismissed the idea that smoking reefer can make you mad like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. In response, the prohibition effort invented new claims (e.g., the gateway drug theory) and scare tactics (e.g., “Marijuana caused acne, blindness, and