WASHINGTON: In the mid-term elections, Utah, Michigan, Missouri, and North Dakota passed laws allowing, to different degrees, marijuana to be legally grown, possessed and sold. North Dakota’s new law, the most far-reaching of the bunch, has virtually no strings attached. However, then once upon a time, no law had its potential hooks in the same product that took on the twentieth appellation of “pot.”
What happened, then and now?
Many understand that after the Civil War of 1861-65 the federal republic entered into its national state and its far-reaching hand began to “govern” the nation. It believed it knew what was best for the states. They effectively became counties in relation to what would become known as “Uncle Sam.” The Federal Government is necessary to protect the states from themselves. Moreover, the government had to protect the people from themselves.
Now, not limited by federal restrictions, it can manage the people, and they had little chance to escape.
Uncle Sam and his new laws
By the end of the 19th century, a flood of laws from Uncle Sam poured upon us from Washington and items which could be purchased at any drug store, over-the-counter, or off-the-shelf, came under the watchful eye of the national government. Opiates and cocaine needed to be regulated becoming illegal with the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 . 1923 saw the criminalization of Marijuana.
Alcohol, more readily and socially acceptable became public enemy number one, resulting in the most significant government boondoggle in the twentieth century. Thirteen years of prohibition, running from 1920-1933. While prohibition did reduce the amount of liquor people drank, it also helped to spawn an increse organized crime. From prohibition rose a profitable black market for alcohol flourished.
Organized crime was around before prohibition, but prohibition gave organized crime a new, financially lucrative crime.
The Government loves a good crisis
The government always loves a crisis. It loves the chance to make the big response and be the hero. Even when the government is the cause of the crisis. Soon the Treasury Department had a new national agency, the Bureau of Narcotics.
However, no crisis had existed. There was merely a spate of “new” crimes, because something previously legal became, at the pronouncement of the national government, illegal. And Bam! A crisis.
The Bureau of Narcotics and America’s Drug Problem
In the 1930’s wily Federal Bureaucrat, Harry J. Anslinger, had promoted the Bureau of Narcotics as an enforcement agency. Of course, Anslinger was head of the new bureau, expanding his governmental authority and his prominence. Although new illegal activities as a result of now illegal opium and cocaine came under the Bureau’s control, they were relatively few.
Therefore, the magic of marijuana, widely grown and used as cannabis for smoking and hemp as a textile, came under the control of Anslinger and The Bureau of Narcotics. Marijuana was mostly grown in Mexico at this time.
Intensely supported by the powerful and wealthy William Randolph Hearst and his hatred of Mexicans, marijuana became “The Devil’s Weed.” Never one to bypass an opportunity, Anslinger was able to ultimately become the father of a massive government bureaucracy, the Drug Enforcement Agency, that has become as powerful as some national armies.
The DEA’s Drug War
This bureau’s virtually unfettered force has directed no-knock warrants directed at innocent citizens and declared war on drug gangs worldwide that would not exist were it not for now the illegal status of a product which had been a common and useful fiber for centuries, hemp. Hemp comes from a subspecies of its cousin marijuana. The difference being that the subspecies of the Cannabis genus, has virtually no psychoactive properties.
Hemp varieties are grown for their seed, oil, and fiber, whereas marijuana is grown for medicinal, recreational, and spiritual purposes.
Not unlike the boon to organized crime during prohibition drug gangs are chasing its profits. Profits that would not exist except for the fact that government prohibitions drive costs higher, making it more lucrative to gangs.
America: The Godfather of Drug Cartels
Those armies of gangsters arising during prohibition became the kernel of crime families in the U.S. that still exist today—la Cosa Nostra. Today drug cartels such as The Tijuana cartel, the Gulf cartel, and the Senola cartel and their spin-offs such as MS-13 will be with us forever.
The rash of laws recently passed throughout the U.S.A. de-criminalizing a once legal product could be the tip of the iceberg regarding the elimination of a government-knows-best policy for the people. Perhaps the people can once again go into a store and buy a product of their choice for their reasons. Maybe the future will reclaim the past. However, only, perhaps.
What about the national government and its armies? What will they do? Not to worry. The government will always find a crisis. Especially if funding is easily available.
With re-legalization of marijuana spreading, it doesn’t mean you are safe from “Uncle Sam’s” protection. The new crisis is upon us. The opioid crisis. And not even your doctor is safe from this government help. Moreover, as long as there is a national government instead of a federal one, there will be nowhere to escape.