and the people will believe
Unfortunately we are still suffering today from the effects of what has now become known as the "Reefer Madness" or "Hysteria" dis-information campaign, first orchestrated by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now known as the DEA) back in the 1930's.
Some time ago, this museum set out to document and index the campaign. At this point, we have put together (still a work in progress) what to our knowledge is the best set of indexes available anywhere. Indexes on Old Time Radio programs, Childrens text books, Newspaper articles, etc., -- All part of the campaign and as such covered elsewhere in this website. Here however, we deal exclusively with old Magazine Articles and the role they played in the creation of the Anti-Medical Marihuana Laws.
And while many of these magazine articles and stories may be amusing, even laughable, to us today. Most of them only reflected what government officials (at the highest levels) were telling the American public at the time. Using such slogans as: "Marihuana ; the Assassin of Youth" and "Marihuana ; The Weed of Madness," is it any wonder that a whole generation of Americans (the duped generation) grew up believing that Medical Marihuana turns its victim into sex fiends, axe murders or worse. To this very day there are many who still believe.
WHY THE STUDY OF REEFER MADNESS?
Perhaps it is best to answer that question is by example: My automobile insurance company has a strict policy, one DUI and you're cancelled. Because of this (despite numerous studies showing that Medical Marihuana does NOT effect your ability to safely drive an automobile), I thought it best to check on its status.
It was there (while bringing the subject up), that one of the workers gave me one of the dirtiest looks on the planet. And it wasn't just a dirty look, it was dirty body language, her tone of voice, everything. It was as if a Medical Marihuana patient was a cross between child molester and a cold blooded murderer. And unfortunately many others share her views. Why? How could anyone's mind be so twisted, so poisoned?
The following is an example -- taken from the November 1938 issue of the "Sierra Educational News" - Official Journal of California Teachers Association.
"Marihuana has proven to be a drug of addiction and an alarming factor in the creation of degeneracy" ….."The vicious qualities of the drug render it highly dangerous to the body and mind upon which it operates. Eventually it weakens the physical powers. It destroys the will, causes the user to lose the power of connected thought, produces imaginary situations and frequently leads to insanity. … [That] the addict may develop a delirious rage and become temporarily irresponsible and likely to commit violent crimes." -- [The following examples were even given:]I mean no wonder that insurance lady gave me such a dirty look. If she were fed since childhood on a diet of such rubbish (and in all likelihood she was) it's a wonder she didn't shoot me or something.
Which now brings us back to the original question: "Why the study of Reefer Madness?" Because people still believe. A deliberate lie was started almost 70 years ago, and after all this time, people still believe.
MAGAZINES AS TOOLS OF DIS-INFORMATION
Given today's technology it is hard (especially for those who grew up with the internet) to understand the importance of magazines in a world in which even television had yet to be invented. Obviously magazines would have played a much greater role in forming (as well as mis-informing) public opinion back in the nineteen twenties and thirties. Thus they would have been of great interest to those involved in planning and orchestrating the anti-Medical Marihuana Hysteria campaign.
However most historians are somewhat disappointed to learn that the campaign itself created nothing new in the field of propaganda or dis-information. Instead, it simply followed the very same well-established patterns first developed by the (alcohol) prohibition forces between the eighteen eighties and the nineteen ten’s. And in turned used so successfully against them by the anti-prohibition forces (led by the Dupont family) in the nineteen twenties.
With 20/20 hindsight, one can now see the obvious pattern:
What kind of magazines carried these wondrous Reefer Madness Era articles? The answer seems to have been, -- Just about all of them. As can be seen from the sample covers, hysteria articles seem to have appeared in almost any and every kind of magazine format imaginable. Anywhere a willing publisher could be found.
In fact there are so many different magazine genres' that took part, that it is now all but impossible to catalog them all. And the ugly part of this all is that (obviously from the share volume), NOT ALL of the articles were orchestrated, a lot of them, especially after the passage of the anti-Medical Marihuana laws, were simply copycat or ‘me too’ type of articles. Many a publisher had caught on to the fact that a good story about a naked girl jumping out a window made for good sales.
Still it would be of interest to track down exactly how Scientific America* of all magazines carried an article written by Harry Anslinger himself. Or how a bird magazine somehow decided to get in on the act, etc.
* To our knowledge, Scientific America is the only magazine to have offered an apology for its role during the Reefer Madness Era.
(Reefer Madness Era Magazines)
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