The Facts About Prohibition
Back in the 1930s, after FDR ended alcohol prohibition, a certain Harry Anslinger, the former head of the 'US Prohibition Bureau' and newly appointed chief of the 'Federal Narcotics Bureau' that was created in 1930, became very concerned for the future of his job and that of his bureaucracy. There was a budget squeeze, alcohol was suddenly legal again, and there was seemingly not much to do anymore for the man whom a biographer referred to as “a cross between William Jennings Bryan and Jerry Falwell”.
Presto, the 'devil weed' was born. Up until that time, no-one had bothered much about marijuana, in fact, only very few people even knew it existed. Only about 2% of the population was using it. Moreover, to those who came into contact with cannabis and its users, it was quite obvious that it was completely harmless.
Anslinger started a campaign of demonization and lies that would have made Goebbels proud. The fact that most of the users at the time were African-Americans and Mexicans was exploited by the racist Anslinger to influence popular opinion. Here are a few of the things he said, a mixture of racism, scaremongering and lies that tells one all one needs to know about the man's character:
“Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men”.
“… the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races”
“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 use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”
“Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing”
“You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.”
“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
So much for the mindset of the Ur-marijuana prohibitionist. The principal witness at the 1937 Congressional hearing which preceded prohibition was, you guessed it, Harry Anslinger. His evidence consisted of news-clippings of lurid tabloid stories he himself had helped originate. One legal observer called the hearing “an almost comical example of dereliction of legislative responsibility”. It was this legislation that was responsible for one day filling US prisons to the brim with people sentenced for committing victimless crimes. But Anslinger's bureaucracy sure began to prosper beyond his wildest imaginings.
Anslinger was helped in his endeavor by William Randolph Hearst, who owned vast timber plantations and wanted to destroy the competition of hemp-based paper. Like Anslinger, Hearst was a racist. He is said to have especially hated Mexicans, who were known to like marijuana. Later chemical giant Du Pont also chipped in to the propaganda campaign, for similar reasons: hemp was to be suppressed as a competitor to its artificial fibers.
Dr. William C. Woodward, Legislative Council of the American Medical Association, was the only person arguing against prohibition at the hearings, as he saw no medical reasons that could justify it.
But yellow journalism ultimately won the day (Congressmen in support of Anslinger confronted Woodward with lurid newspaper clippings as well. It's in the paper so it must be true!). The people responsible for prohibition all pursued their personal interests. Their motives were not pure, on the contrary, they were the lowest motives imaginable. They didn't care one whit about anybody's health. It was all about gaining power and money by political means.
Poster of one of the propaganda films that helped turn popular opinion against hemp
The end results speak for themselves. Today there exists a vast prison-industrial complex, huge and costly bureaucracies charged with enforcing prohibition (and failing to succeed in eradicating drug use with a consistency that is truly remarkable), and criminal cartels that make so much money that it has been speculated that their cash was instrumental in keeping the tottering US banking system afloat in the 2008 crisis. They represent a powerful block of vested interests that has kept prohibition going for more than seven decades.
With this, marijuana prohibition has already lasted a little longer than that other major mistake in 20th century social engineering, communism. The criminal element in the form of drug cartels and the criminalization of users have done orders of magnitude more harm to society than the drug itself ever could. In fact, cannabis is unlikely to be doing any harm whatsoever (note that studies that say otherwise are invariably funded by one of the interest groups that want prohibition to continue).
Rather it has proven to be helpful as a symptomatic treatment for a number of health conditions that are untreatable otherwise. That the violence of the drug cartels and the incarceration of users are inflicting untold harm is on the other hand beyond doubt. With the move toward full-scale legalization gathering pace after two US states have legalized marijuana use both for medical and recreational purposes, the drug cartels of Mexico are beginning to feel the pinch.
Cartels in Trouble – Who Could Have Known?
From a libertarian standpoint, the main argument is of course that it is none of the State's business what people choose to ingest. However, those pushing for legalization have also forwarded a number of utilitarian arguments that cannot be refuted. One is that the so-called 'war on drugs' is a huge waste of effort and resources, due to the fact that it cannot be 'won'. Those pursuing it of course don't even want to 'win' it, as that would cost them their job. They can obviously not admit that they are not even interested in 'winning the war', so they continue to insist on the fiction that it somehow all makes sense, in spite of the mountains of evidence proving otherwise.
One of the utilitarian arguments concerns the drug cartels: take the source of their income away, and they will falter. After all, prohibition is precisely what creates their income, as it keeps prices artificially high. At the same time, prohibition has obviously completely failed to destroy the market for illegal drugs as such. Given that the percentage of marijuana users has risen about ten-fold (if not more) since the drug was originally made illegal, it seems likely that it has actually increased the weed's popularity.
To no-one's surprise, the argument regarding the drug cartels is already proven by evidence that has recently emerged. The East Bay Express reports:
“For the first time in generations, farmers in central Mexico have stopped planting marijuana.
Due to ample supplies up north, courtesy of medical and recreational cannabis legalization, cartel farmers can’t make any money off pot anymore, they told the Washington Post this week. The price for a pound of Mexican marijuana has plummeted 75 percent from $100 per kilogram to less than $25.
"'It’s not worth it anymore,'" said 50 year-old Rodrigo Silla, a lifelong cannabis farmer. He also told the Post he couldn’t remember the last time his family and others stopped growing mota. “'I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.'”
For several years we have been writing about how researchers think that domestic cannabis legalization will seriously hurt Mexican drug cartels — who have murdered something like 60,000 people in the last decade.
We've reported on how California cannabis has cut Mexican cartels out of the Golden State. That garbage goes east now. Researchers estimate legalization would cost the cartels billions, and a think tank in Mexico said that legalization in just one US state would cut cartels out of the US pot industry. Those days appears to have arrived.
“Farmers in the storied “Golden Triangle” region of Mexico’s Sinaloa state, which has produced the country’s most notorious gangsters and biggest marijuana harvests, say they are no longer planting the crop. … increasingly, they’re unable to compete with U.S. marijuana growers. With cannabis legalized or allowed for medical use in 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, more and more of the American market is supplied with highly potent marijuana grown in American garages and converted warehouses — some licensed, others not. Mexican trafficking groups have also set up vast outdoor plantations on public land, especially in California, contributing to the fall in marijuana prices.
So now we have both the DEA and cartel farmers both screaming bloody murder about legalization — sounds like we're on the right track.”
The next logical step will be to decriminalize illegal drug use altogether. While it is undoubtedly true that a number of illegal drugs (especially opiates) are contrary to cannabis actually dangerous, it should still be none of the State's business what people want to ingest.
Besides, without going into too many details here, there are also utilitarian arguments supporting a decriminalization of so-called 'hard' drugs. Just a few brief remarks in this context: after Germany's reunification, medical statistics that were thought to be long lost were rediscovered in Leipzig. Upon studying them, researchers found out that the percentage of opiate addicts in the population had remained roughly the same throughout the period of time covered by the country's statistics (beginning in the 1870s), regardless of whether the drugs could be obtained legally or not. Criminalization of drug use had not altered drug use one whit – it had only created a lot of crime (in the case of addictive opiates, not only crimes perpetrated by drug cartels, but also drug-related crime by users desperate to finance their habits).
Incidentally, wherever decriminalization has been tried (several European nations such as Switzerland, the Netherlands and Portugal have been trailblazers), it has proved a smashing success. A great many people who once were living in squalor in the streets, panhandling and prostituting themselves and in constant danger of dying of an overdose or catching illnesses associated with illegal drug use, have been fully reintegrated into society (see this report on Portugal for instance, or this one on the Swiss experience).
Drug prohibition never made any sense, and still doesn't. The system has become self-perpetuating and only serves the interests of bureaucrats and criminals to the detriment of society at large. Wherever prohibition has been repealed, overwhelmingly positive effects did not take long to become manifest.
Res ipsa loquitur.
A propaganda flyer produced by Anslinger's Narcotics Bureau.
Deadly harvest: in Mexico the drug cartels fight each other, killing members and innocent bystanders alike by the dozen. Lately they are doing so with weapons provided by the US government via operation 'Fast and Spurious'.
You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.
Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
Most read in the last 20 days:
- India: The World’s Fastest Growing Large Economy?
Popular Narrative India has been the world’s favorite country for the last three years. It is believed to have superseded China as the world’s fastest growing large economy. India is expected to grow at 7.5%. Compare that to the mere 6.3% growth that China has “fallen” to. India's quarterly annualized GDP growth rate since 2008, according to MOSPI (statistics ministry) - click to enlarge. The IMF, the World Bank, and the international media have celebrated...
- Don’t Blame Trump When the World Ends
Alien Economics There was, indeed, a time when clear thinking and lucid communication via the written word were held in high regard. As far as we can tell, this wonderful epoch concluded in 1936. Everything since has been tortured with varying degrees of gobbledygook. One should probably not be overly surprised that the abominable statist rag Time Magazine is fulsomely praising Keynes' nigh unreadable tome. We too suspect that this book has actually lowered the planet-wide IQ –...
- What is the Best Time to Buy Stocks?
Chasing Entry Points Something similar to the following has probably happened to you at some point: you want to buy a stock on a certain day and in order to time your entry, you start watching how it trades. Alas, the price rises and rises, and your patience begins to wear thin. Shouldn't a correction set in soon and provide you with a more favorable buying opportunity? Apple-Spotting – a five minute intraday chart showing the action in AAPL on February 1, 2017 - an...
- Incrementum Advisory Board Meeting, Q1 2017 and Some Additional Reflections
Looming Currency and Liquidity Problems The quarterly meeting of the Incrementum Advisory Board was held on January 11, approximately one month ago. A download link to a PDF document containing the full transcript including charts an be found at the end of this post. As always, a broad range of topics was discussed; although some time has passed since the meeting, all these issues remain relevant. Our comments below are taking developments that have taken place since then into...
- Gold and Silver Divergence – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
Gold and Silver Divergence – Precious Metals Supply and Demand Last week, the prices of the metals went up, with the gold price rising every day and the silver price stalling out after rising 42 cents on Tuesday. The gold-silver ratio went up a bit this week, an unusual occurrence when prices are rising. Everyone knows that the price of silver is supposed to outperform — the way Pavlov’s Dogs know that food comes after the bell. Speculators usually make it...
- Trump and the Draining of the Swamp
Swamp Critters BALTIMORE – The Dow is back above the 20,000-point mark. Federal debt, as officially tallied, is up to nearly $20 trillion. The two go together, egging each other on. The Dow is up 20 times since 1980. So is the U.S. national debt. Debt feeds the stock market and the swamp. What’s not up so much is real output, as measured by GDP. It’s up only 6.4 times over the same period. Debt and asset prices have been rising three times as fast as GDP for 36 years! Best...
- Making America Great Again – How to Judge Policy
A Simple Formula MIAMI – How do we know if new programs will make the economy better... or worse? Here’s a simple formula: W = rv (w-w – w-l) That is, wealth is equal to the real value of win-win exchanges minus the loss from win-lose exchanges. Yes, dear reader, it’s as simple as that. Like a whittler working on a piece of wood, we’ve shaved so much off, there is nothing left of it... except the essential heartwood. When devising a win-win,...
- When Trumponomics Meets Abenomics
Thirty Year Retread What will President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talk about when they meet later today? Will they gab about what fishing holes the big belly bass are biting at? Will they share insider secrets on what watering holes are serving up the stiffest drinks? [ed. note: when we edited this article for Acting Man, the meeting was already underway] Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe, a dyed-in-the-wool Keynesian and militarist, meets America's...
- Gold Sector Update – What Stance is Appropriate?
The Technical Picture - a Comparison of Antecedents We wanted to post an update to our late December post on the gold sector for some time now (see “Gold – Ready to Spring Another Surprise?” for the details). Perhaps it was a good thing that some time has passed, as the current juncture seems particularly interesting. We received quite a few mails from friends and readers recently, expressing concern about the inability of gold stocks to lead, or even confirm strength in gold of...
- The Great Wailing
Regret and Suffering BALTIMORE – Victoribus spolia... So far, the most satisfying thing about the Trump win has been the howls and whines coming from the establishment. Each appointment – some good, some bad from our perspective – has brought forth such heavy lamentations. Oh no! Alaric the Visigoth is here! Hide the women and children! And don't forget the vestal virgins, if you can find any... You’d think Washington had been invaded by Goths, now...
- Receive a One Percent Gift When Buying or Selling a Home
How to Save Money When Buying or Make More When Selling a Home In your professional capacity and perhaps also in your private life, you may be closely involved with financial and commodity markets. Trading in stocks, bonds or futures is part of your daily routine. Occasionally you probably have to deal with real estate as well though – if you e.g. want to purchase an apartment or a house, or if own a home you wish to sell. The people who took this photograph probably want to...
- Silver Futures Market Assistance – Precious Metals Supply and Demand
Silver Is Pushed Up Again This week, the prices of the metals moved up on Monday. Then the gold price went sideways for the rest of the week, but the silver price jumped on Friday. Taking off for real or not? Photo credit: NASA Is this the rocket ship to $50? Will Trump’s stimulus plan push up the price of silver? Or just push silver speculators to push up the price, at their own expense, again? This will again be a brief Report this week, as we are busy...