Marijuana Prohibition Is Unscientific, Unconstitutional, and Unjust

The war on weed is a legal and moral outrage built on a mountain of lies.


California NORML

Next Thursday I am scheduled to debate marijuana prohibition on The Glenn Beck Radio Program with Robert White, co-author (with Bill Bennett) of Going to Pot: Why the Rush to Legalize Marijuana Is Harming America. In my latest Forbes column, I outline my main arguments:

A few days before the House of Representatives passed a federal ban on marijuana in June 1937, the Republican minority leader, Bertrand Snell of New York, confessed, "I do not know anything about the bill." The Democratic majority leader, Sam Rayburn of Texas, educated him. "It has something to do with something that is called marihuana," Rayburn said. "I believe it is a narcotic of some kind."

That exchange gives you a sense of how much thought Congress gave marijuana prohibition before approving it. Legislators who had heard of the plant knew it as the "killer weed" described by Federal Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner Harry Anslinger, who claimed marijuana turned people into homicidal maniacs and called it "the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind." Anslinger warned that "marihuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes" and estimated that half the violent crimes in areas occupied by "Mexicans, Greeks, Turks, Filipinos, Spaniards, Latin Americans, and Negroes may be traced to the use of marihuana."

Given this background, no one should pretend that marijuana prohibition was carefully considered or that it was driven by science, as opposed to ignorance and blind prejudice. It is hard to rationally explain why Congress, less than four years after Americans had emphatically rejected alcohol prohibition, thought it was a good idea to ban a recreational intoxicant that is considerably less dangerous.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. “Mexicans, Greeks, Turks, Filipinos, Spaniards, Latin Americans, and Negroes may be traced to the use of marihuana.”

    If he had thrown in ass-sex, he would have hit the trifecta!

    1. What, no love for teh Gaiz??

        1. Just the tip?

          1. I….you…just….that…

            *shakes head and slowly walks away*

    2. And this from an institution noted for its Joint Sessions.

    3. He did throw in ass-sex. . . Greek was the second thing on the list. . .

  2. Anslinger warned that “marihuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes.”

    The US should therefore legalize MJ out of respect for the President.

    1. speaking of which, does anyone else think he’s getting some strange on the side? i’m convinced a few years after he leaves office it’s going to be Tiger Woods.

      1. He’d be stupid not to.
        But considering his spouse – he’d be stupid to try that without secret service protection.

    2. Would Obama have even existed without marihuana? His mother was a white woman who sought out sexual relations with a Negro, therefore she must have been on the marihuana. The ignorance in this country (past and present) never fails to amaze me.

    3. FDR doubted that it was Constitutional.

  3. The war on weed is a legal and moral outrage built on a mountain of lies.

    “But if it might help save just one life, aren’t we obligated?”

    Good luck, Jacob.

  4. Yes that’s true,so is stealing someone’s raisin crop or cash with out a rime attached. What’s your point?

    1. “I want your bucks,
      so now your life sucks.”

      OK, now there’s a rime attached.

      1. I see what you did there, Crime,better?

        1. As long as its not the Crime of the Ancient Mariner.

  5. But But some people might enjoy themselves and have a good time and that just cannot be tolerated

  6. Jesus Christ. Surprised they didn’t try to ban jazz along with it since Negroes were also alleged to have used that and the reefer to ensnare guileless white women.

    1. Which way is it to the white women?

      Asking for a friend. One of my best friends, in fact.

      1. +1 comma but

    2. While cries of racism today are often overblown, the shit was real back then.

    3. Go back and check. They tried, but by banning alcohol they had created a popular social venue that had no reason to pay any attention to unpopular nanny-laws, because it was ALREADY breaking a big one. Jazz and Speakeasies went hand in hand, and the Scolds had effectively made sure that the latter would exist as a vector for the former.

      They don’t like to talk about this much.

    4. They were invulnerable to white cops’ bullets. What more proof do you want?

  7. OT I just heard Lou Reed died! WTF??!

    Wonder what BB King thinks about this….

  8. OT: David Cameron is a piece of shit.

    Britain is too “passively tolerant” and should not leave people to live their lives as they please just because they obey the law, David Cameron has said.

    At the National Security Council today Mr Cameron unveiled a series of measures that he said would crack down on people holding minority “extremist” views that differed from Britain’s consensus.

    “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’,” he said.

    “It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.”


    The package of powers, first proposed in March, would allow courts to force a person to send their tweets and Facebook posts to the police for approval.

    1. Out: “Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?”

      In: “Are there no lamp posts?”

    2. The package of powers, first proposed in March, would allow courts to force a person to send their tweets and Facebook posts to the police for approval.

      Nope. This is a parody. You can’t fool me.

      1. A package of powers. Is that something you send to dads on Father’s Day? “Wow, this is great, kids. A power ring–always wanted one of those. And look, a Bag of Holding for me to carry everything in!”

        1. I turned my bag of holding inside-out, wrapped it around me, and walked through the dungeon walls.

          1. That seems implausible.

    3. And on the other hand Labour is so willing to roll over the fundies in the UK that they wanted to criminalize all ‘Islamophobic’ speech.

      How could any person stand to live in that stinking shitpile of islands when those are your two choices? God save our First Amendment from both left and right.

    4. You know who else thought their country was too tolerant of minority “extremist”?

      1. The city fathers of Skokie, Illinois?

      2. Your mother?
        [This comment auto-generated by the H&R Style Guide bot]

      3. Hillary Clinton?

      4. Shriek and Botard the Hotard?

        1. +1 mudblood

      5. George S. Patton?

    5. “Look, mate, I’m just following the manual.”

      “Mr. Prime minister, that’s no manual, that’s the novel 1984.”

      “So the authors of the manual would be disappointed that we’re already thirty years late!”

    6. It will be SOLD was an anti-terrorist measure. It will be USED as an anti-critic-of-the-state measure.

  9. When I get into these debates, my question for the drug warrior is this:

    Can you give me one good reason to keep marijuana illegal that could not also be used as a good reason to make alcohol illegal?

    I have yet to get a coherent answer.

    1. The answer is that decent god-fearing American people drink decent god-fearing American beer, but only filthy hippies and darkies and wetbacks smoke dope. It’s retarded, but it’s coherent.

      1. That’s the best and most compelling argument for the WoD that I’ve ever heard. The part about hippies suffering, I mean.

        1. Pro Glib cut his hair
          Happened just the other day
          It was gettin’ kinda long
          He coulda said it wasn’t gettin’ in his way
          But he didn’t and I wonder why
          He wanted not to let his freak flag fly

          1. Look, the one thing we can all agree on is that Easy Rider had a happy ending.

            1. You may say I’m dreamer
              But I’m not the only one.

              1. And if you go chasing rabbits,
                And you know you’re going to fall.
                Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar
                Has given you the call,
                And call Alice, when she was just small.

          2. She asks me why, I’m just a hairy guy.
            I’m hairy noon and night, hair that’s a fright.
            I’m hairy high and low, don’t ask me why, don’t know.
            It’s not for lack of bread, like the Greatful Dead, darlin’.

      2. That’s too honest for anyone to actually say.

    2. Because, FYTW.

    3. Fire hazard. (Does not apply to pot brownies).

    4. The closest I’ve heard is “it’s not feasible to reinstate alcohol prohibition, but at least we can hold the line on dope!” or “just because we legalize one poison doesn’t mean we should legalize another!”

      nb – this is bullshit, but I’m trying to get into their heads.

      1. That one’s got an easy rebuttal in the form of pointing out the futility, corruption, and gang violence of the Prohibition era, comparing that to today’s black market for drugs, and then pointing out that liquor store owners generally don’t kill each other in turf wars.

        1. Well, I said it was the *best* argument I’d heard, not that it was exactly airtight.

        2. They acknowledge that, but say the price paid in intoxication of consumers is too great, & that it’s too bad that the popularity of liquor had become too great to survive a ban in a democracy.

    5. I had a similar thought recently. If you discover a new chemical that makes people feel good and see visions, that chemical will promptly be outlawed. And it’s like we’ve stopped even thinking about why. Chemically alter your consciousness, or enable other to do so, and the authorities will throw you in prison. It’s like a weird kind of mental slavery.

      1. It’s a moral issue.

        Seeking altered consciousness through artificial means is immoral.

        Seeking altered consciousness through natural means, such as the adrenalin rush a cop gets when he tosses a grenade into a crib, is completely moral.

        1. Cops can only get that moral high by cracking down on the immoral highs.

          I think you’ve solved it, sarc. Have a cookie (not a pot cookie, of course **wink**).

        2. “I’m high, all right. But not on false drugs! I’m high on the *real* thing — powerful gasoline, a clean windshield, and a shoeshine.”

          1. What is that from, cuz it’s awesome.

            1. Google it. I just did and got results.

        3. A single hit of that “natural high” cost about 1 million dollars. Pot is cheap by comparison. Ban it!

    6. The problem with that tactic being that all too many of them ALSO want to ban alcohol, they just know they can’t come right out and say so.

    7. Their standard answer is that they wish we could keep liquor illegal too, but that the liquor lobby was too strong due to the popularity of liquor, while we still have a chance to suppress marijuana enough to keep it from getting to that point. I’m not making this up, it really is their social-engrg. way of thinking, expressed many times, and many of them feel genuinely guilty about drinking liquor (and will probably feel genuinely guilty about smoking pot when it’s legal).

    8. I like alcohol.

  10. Mr. Walker – People have had trouble verifying all the racist stuff attributed to Anslinger – are you willing to provide citations if challenged by your opponent?

    1. (from unclemike’

    2. (To me, verifiable evidence of racism in the dope laws would be a good argument, but if not verifiable, the effect on people of *all* races should be the focus)

  11. estimated that half the violent crimes in areas occupied by “Mexicans, Greeks, Turks, Filipinos, Spaniards, Latin Americans, and Negroes may be traced to the use of marihuana.”

    Self-fulfilling prophecy

  12. Sullum,

    Try this Nixon bit on them:

    “Look, we understood we couldn’t make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue…that we couldn’t resist it.” – John Ehrlichman, White House counsel to President Nixon on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

    “[Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks” Haldeman, his Chief of Staff wrote, “The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

    1. As explained by National Review.

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  14. I’ve heard this argument my entire life. Nothing changes. It’s time to take away the government’s power to rule our lives. abolish it.

  15. I, a Free Citizen, have a natural right to control my own body.

    Also, the US Constitution does not give government authority to tell citizens what they can and cannot put into their body.

    Recall that when the progressives and other prudes wanted to stop people from drinking alcohol, they passed a Constitutional amendment.

    There is no such amendment for reefer, or MDMA, or ‘shrooms.

    Therefore, the war on drugs is not only a violation of natural rights but un Constitutional.

    I ignore all laws that run counter to my natural rights, and I consider all supporters of the war on drugs to be totalitarians of the most vile sort.

    1. Correct and “yep”.

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