By Glenn Horowitz,
American Daily Herald
“After two puffs on a marijuana cigarette, I was turned into a bat.”
~ Dr. James C. Munch, testifying before Congressional hearings on the Marijuana Tax Act (1937)
During Congressional hearings for one of the first truly decisive steps in what would become known as the War on Drugs, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, only two doctors were called upon to give testimony. One, a Dr. Woodward, testified against the Act for various reasons on behalf of the A.M.A. That organization felt that the bill had been hastily and secretly prepared, as well as the fact that even then the benefits of cannabis were acknowledged by physicians prescribing cannabis, retail pharmacists selling cannabis, and medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing. He was politely told to shut up and go away. While details are sketchy, the animosity seems to have been mutual, the A.M.A. strongly doubted the government’s wild claims of insanity, death and addiction made by the bill’s proponents, most notably those concocted by Harry Anslinger, newly appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and a vehement prohibitionist for his entire professional life.
The other was the Dr. Munch quoted above, a pharmacologist from Temple University, who not only testified that a taste of cannabis had turned him into a bat, but expanded on this claim, asserting that once transmogrified he “flew around the room for 15 minutes before finding himself at the bottom of a 200-foot high ink well.” Not bad for a story concocted decades before Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone!
Of all of the substances criminalized by the drug warriors, none have borne the brunt of their concentrated hysterical fury quite like cannabis has. There are a number of reasons for this, none of them pleasant.
Apart from a strong Puritanical hatred of euphoriants of all sorts, those involved in the demonization of cannabis had a strong degree of racist hatred motivating them. The early twentieth century had seen a rapid growth in anti-Mexican bias, along with a further increase in the long established racist attitude toward blacks in America. As always happens in situations like this, those irrational attitudes seeped into the mindset of a great many Americans, including those in charge of the one group with a claimed monopoly of force for use against their fellows to coerce them into conformity with the group’s precepts: the government.Continue Reading