Harry Anslinger: A Leading Voice Against Cannabis

In studying the demonization of Cannabis, one will inevitably come across "Anti-Cannabis Propagandist Extraordinaire", Harry J. Anslinger (1892-1975).  

As the head of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics for 32 years (1930-1962), Anslinger used his power as the first Commissioner of FBN to be a voice against marijuana, spreading propaganda to the mass media.


What he found most objectionable about 'Marihuana' (a historically-racist term), was its effect on the psyche, claiming marijuana is a major source of crime- especially murder.

In the Reader's Digest, February '38, an article by Anslinger entitled "Marijuana -- Assassin of Youth," stated:

"There must be constant enforcement and constant education against this enemy, which has a record of murder and terror running thru the centuries."

He believed that "Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum", and propagated the idea that it is the stepping stone to opiates, and that it led to other, harder drugs.  He used colorful language to get his point across, and across the country, people were fed these words from justice-seeking Anslinger:

“By the tons it is coming into this country — the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms… Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him.."

Anslinger was the author of three books:  The Traffic in Narcotics, The Murders and The Protectors.  He received a number of awards, medals, honorary degrees and titles during his long career. Among these were the Remington Medal, Proctor Gold Medal Awards, a Presidential Citation, Honorary Member of the Terre Haute Academy of Medicine, Distinguished Alumnus Award Pennsylvania State University, and more.

The following short clip is from the documentary entitled, “Grass - The History of Marijuana”.