GRASS: WAR ON DRUGS PART 1 OF 5
A Documentary History Of Marijuana Criminalization In The U.S.
Woody Harrelson (narrator)
Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are arrested for marijuana use. The cumulative cost of these arrests (and subsequent incarcerations) is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. That's a lot of pain and effort to ban a drug that even government experts have concluded to be relatively benign, as indeed marijuana must be since roughly a quarter of the U.S. population has used it without noticeable ill effect. So how did U.S. government policy with respect to marijuana get to be so absurd? That's the question this documentary sets out to answer.
As told here, it all started with a man named Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930-1962 and an enthusiastic Prohibitionist. He's the chief villain of this story. In league with some of the more yellow press and naive Hollywood, Anslinger created public hysteria over marijuana by blaming it for widespread murder and insanity. The feds and the states then banned marijuana without debate or scientific investigation.
After an embarrassing study (commissioned by Mayor LaGuardia of New York) disproved Anslinger's preposterous allegations with regard to pot, Anslinger effectively stopped all research on it by cutting off the supply to researchers. Later, he encouraged the idea that marijuana was a commie plot, and then finally topped off his career by getting the UN to ban marijuana around the world. In short, with regard to pot, Anslinger was the metaphorical Hitler of the War on Drugs.