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The Emperor Wears No Clothes…

Some 55% of all federal inmates are incarcerated for drugs.  About 13% of the 2.5 million prisoners across the US—including all of the states—are convicted of marijuana “crimes” alone. 

Having served 20+ years in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), I thought I pretty much knew most of what there was to know about reefer and reefer cases.  I was wrong.

Jack Herer published the book shown here back in 1985.  Since then, it has gone into 11 editions and is easily considered the bible of the marijuana industry.  (Herer died last April 2010.)

Herer documents the usual information on marijuana, its history and benign if temporal criminal cultivation and use, but so much more…

In addition to the breadth of its historical articles, the book is also a significant source of references on the subject.  If you only have one book on marijuana in your collection, this is the one.

While this site has written before on the subject, the genesis of marijuana prohibition can be historically traced to the Spanish America War and the Mexican Revolutionary period (1898-1920).

This also coincided with America’s sojourn into colonialism (Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, etc.).  America’s first age of imperialism.

Jack Herer

Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, famed as “yellow journalists,” provided much of the sensationalism for a popular nativist and war mentality, much as the role that Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News provides today.

While Hearst and Pulitzer provided the template for ethnic baiting to engender race hate, sell newspapers, and enact anti-immigrant legislation, Hearst especially sought to tap into that ol’ time racism to really stir up the pot.

He found the key in cannabis.  Mexicans smoked the dried flowers and leaves of the hemp weed as an inexpensive get-high.  They called it “marijuana.”

Hearst further popularized the name and the drug by tying it to the mass of Mexicans fleeing the violence in Mexico across the US border.  He published lurid tales and screaming headlines of brown Mexicans using marijuana to sexually enslave white girls.  (The same racist blather also worked against blacks and Asians.)

But, as usual with the more educated and self-ambitious profiteers, there was method to his madness.  The chapter at this point alone is worth the price of Herer’s book.

The hemp plant, ubiquitous over a vast range of products, also produces 77% of its weight in “hurds,” paper pulp.  It can grow practically anywhere, it’s annually renewable, its cheap, easy to process, and eco-friendly (where wood pulp is not).

But there was a problem—a big one—at least for Hearst, Kimberly Clark, St. Regis, DuPont, and several other $billion corporations.

They already owned and/or had relatively free access to American timberland for the production of wood pulp for paper (and other products).  Like the buffalo before, the nation seemed awash in a never-ending supply of trees.  Add Andrew Mellon, chief financial backer to DuPont, and the rest, as they say, is corporate history.

Mellon, who was also the Secretary of the US Treasury, even appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger, a former railroad “bull” (detective-thug), as chief of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.  Anslinger significantly created and dominated US drug policy for the next 31 years.

Racism in its extreme forms is a mental disorder.  But there’s often a fundamental difference between the racism of some ill-bred, ignorant fool, and those in authority with a profiteering design…

There should at least be a statue of Hearst in front of every prison in America.  That’s his most lasting memorial.

               Dr. Publico

Category: Drugs, HererJack
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