« The Marijuana “High:” therapy or a criminal act? | Main | A Shift in Emphasis »

April 14, 2010

Debunking Anslinger

The evidence Harry Anslinger presented on behalf of his Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 was such gross exaggeration of a few sensational cases and he himself so obviously lacking in appropriate training and experience, that current “marijuana” policy can only be seen as a daring fraud sustained well beyond any reasonable belief in its validity or a shocking example of government duplicity. There’s simply no middle ground; the policy’s fraudulent nature can no longer be hidden and “marijuana” possession is still punished by arrest at virtually every US or international port of entry.

On a personal level, I still remember Anslinger as a pompously self-important bureaucrat from a government training film screened as part of Public Health during my third-year in medical school (1956), thus I favor the first explanation. Seated behind a huge desk, unfailingly referred to in the voice-over as “the honorable” Harry Anslinger, he menacingly warned of the dangers to physicians and nurses resulting from their access to "narcotics" and promised swift punishment to any caught abusing those privileges.

Despite that improbable air of omnipotence, Anslinger could not possibly have anticipated the array of arguments and counter augmentations that would be required to support his lie once he left office and "kids" began to discover the appeal of "reefer" in the mid Sixties. Starting with Nixon's "war" on drugs and extending through each subsequent presidency, plus all their drug czars, both the policy's budget and the needless human damage it produces have been forced to keep pace with its hyperbole.

In reality, the policy Anslinger is remembered for is a sad commentary on human nature, a judgment now well supported by history. The drug war should eventually be remembered among the worst repressions of history: the Inquisition, American Chattel Slavery, and the Holocaust, to mention but a few.

When I first appreciated what pot smokers could tell me, I became naively optimistic that simply repeating their histories to the "movement" would begin to turn US drug policy around. Little did I realize how quickly the same sectarian divisions that afflict all human organizations would surface. I now realize that “truth” has as many variants as colors have hues; thus every pot smoker (not to mention those who have never been high) has their own definition of “medical” vs “recreational” use.

What it adds up to is simply another variant of “truth:” In addition to Al Gore’s “inconvenient” variety. I’m thus forced to be patient with the “incremental" variant. The good news is that we can be reasonably sure that the thread-bare nature of federal dogma is now so obvious that pot prohibition shouldn’t be the law of the land for very much longer.

I hope to have more to say about this a few days from now when I'll be discussing how badly the drug war has muddled the complex pharmacology of the marijuana “high,” and what their ignorance reveals about their policy.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at April 14, 2010 05:25 PM