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The Michael Phelps bong tokin' photos bru-ha-ha-ha ha has brought the marijuana issue to light, at least momentarily. The necessity for the criminalization of cannabis is predicated on: the current state of scientific and medical knowledge concerning the effects of cannabis makes it necessary to acknowledge the physical, psychological and sociological damage which is incumbent upon its use.
It's likely Phelps has smoked pot prior to the photographic evidence. So, it leaves one to wonder how much of a negative impact it can have on the physical health of the user since Phelps went on to win A Million And One gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Historically, cannabis has also been classified as a "gateway drug" once a person starts eatin' them hashish brownies it's only a matter of time before they're mainlining heroin. I believe this is faulty reasoning akin to believing the person who has an occasional beer is going to eventually drink a gallon of Canned Heat a night.
And this brings us back to the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. A key proponent of criminalization was the DuPont Chemical Company which invented Nylon in the 1935. Nylon was created to be used for the vast array of products which had been made from Silk and Hemp. Silk, of course, was and still is expensive as well as difficult to cultivate. But, Hemp, ah now that is a problem.
Hemp grows everywhere and had been grown in US since before the Revolution. And this is were the ubiquitous and nefarious William Randolph Hearst enters into the picture or more accurately the newspaper. Hearst used his influence and papers to print any number of racist and sensational stories about what the use of the devil weed did to people.
The Director of the newly created Bureau of Narcotics Harry J. Anslinger used many of the anecdotal and completely fabricated Hearst stories in his "Gore Files" to highlight all sorts of terrible things done while under the power of Reefer Madness. Sadly, it seems, Anslinger was just another power mad racist who worked for years deluding himself that his goals were noble and it was his duty to protect certain segments of society form other less desirable segments.
So, as often is the case throughout history, a select few of the powerful create a situation in which the lesser classes are divided and their actions criminalized. And the Hounds whom they Keep are tasked with lying to, shaming, cajoling or forcing the lower peoples of this nation in line.