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February 21, 2008

Pot's Delayed Popularity, Part 1 (Historical)

For a long time after the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 (MTA) had changed its name from "reefer" to "marihuana" and
made it illegal, the product now known as “pot,” “dope, ” or “grass” generated surprisingly little interest from the American public. Although destined to become the single most popular illegal drug ever, it would be another thirty years before that even began to happen. By then, the United States had emerged from the Great Depression, fought in World War Two and Korea, built Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway system, experienced of JFK’s assassination, passed the Civil Rights Act, and started implementing LBJ’s Great Society. It was only about then that the early stirrings of today’s giant marijuana market were first noticed; and that only happened after hundreds of thousands (soon milliions), of  Baby boomers had inhaled enough to get “high.”

Ironically, the age at which the first Boomers were discovering pot, places them in exactly the same demographic the MTA’s sponsors had warned about in 1937. However, rather than murder and mayhem, young hippies in the early Seventies quickly became known for the munchies and unfocused conversation that were quickly and devastatingly parodied by Cheech and Chong.

More seriously from the standpoint of Public Policy: although the phenomenon of pot’s delayed youth market didn’t elicit any curiosity from the Behavioral Scientists of the day, they quickly hypothesised a “gateway effect” on the basis of limited studies of its first initiates and then spent the next twenty five years vainly attempting to confirm it.

In retrospect, and in the light of abundant demographic and other data, the non-existent intellectual bases upon which both Anslinger’s and Nixon’s “marijuana” policies were justified were clearly without merit and their quick acceptance by the medical establishments of their day was disgraceful. That’s particularly true of the Nixon era in the early Seventies; before either NIDA or the DEA were created. By some curious coincidence, the first directors of both agencies have since built a hugely successful business for the merchandising of drug testing protocols.

Part 2 will point out some other glaring drug war realities that have mysteriously escaped notice: not only from politicians, but from “experts” on both sides of the issue; also the media and academics.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at February 21, 2008 06:19 PM