Although it came and went without much notice, Monday marked the 75th anniversary of America's misbegotten war on weed.
On Oct. 1, 1937, the U.S. Congress officially criminalized the possession and sale of marijuana, which had already been outlawed in many states thanks to a campaign of sleazy racist propaganda by America's first drug czar Harry Anslinger. As the Huffington Post, one of the few mainstream media outlets to note the anniversary yesterday, reminded us, Anslinger had this to say about the drug: “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
Despite Anslinger's best efforts, marijuana, jazz and sex with white women and “any others” only got more popular in America over the next several decades, although that popularity came with a price–more than 20 million people arrested for pot-related charges since 1965 and some 800,000 arrested per year, the majority of whom, Anslinger would be happy to know, are young non-white males.
Our local pro-marijuana-legalization folks, the Orange County chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has been fighting the good fight for years and has grown to become the most active chapter of NORML in the nation. They're being recognized for their hard work by being granted the honor of sponsoring the group's national conference in Los Angeles this weekend.
Starting Thurs, Oct. 4 and ending Sat., Oct 6, activists will be gathering at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel. Tom Hayden, the former California assemblyman and peace activist, will kick off the event with a speech Thursday morning. NORML Founder Keith Stroup will address attendees at Friday's keynote luncheon titled “Observations on the Final Days of Prohibition”.
From NORML's website, here are some other event highlights:
Pot-n-Politics 2012: A Review of Statewide Reform Initiatives Impacting Cannabis Consumers
*Cannabis and the 'Demo' Gap: Who Does Not Support Cannabis Legalization and What Can We Do About It
*Cannabis Legalization and Taxation: What Might It Look Like?
*Broken Promises: Obama Administration and Federal Blowback Against Medical Cannabis Industry
*The Changing Face of the Medical Cannabis Community
*Seventy-Five Years of Cannabis Prohibition in America: A Review of the Cannabis Prohibition Epoch in America
*Past is Prologue – Women's Role in Ending American Prohibition[s]