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OfflineDelBoycie

Registered: 03/23/09
Posts: 286
Last seen: 3 years, 5 months
How cannabis was criminalised.
    #424507 - 05/27/10 05:52 AM (6 years, 6 months ago)

Cannabis first became illegal in the UK, and most of the rest of the world, on 28th September 1928 when the 1925 Dangerous Drugs Act came into force. There were no British domestic reasons, no lobbying for or against prohibition, and no Parliamentary debates.

The Act controlling 'Indian Hemp and all resins and preparations based thereon' had been passed after Britain signed the 1925 Geneva International Convention on Narcotics Control, organised by the League of Nations. Asked what it was all about on a slow day in Parliament, a junior Home Office Minister explained that the Convention could not be ratified without an 'important but small' law being passed. 'What it does is include coca leaves under a former Act. They are the real basis of cocaine - we place them in the same category as raw opium.' Cannabis itself was ever mentioned aloud.

This apathy was nothing new. When the 1920 Act controlling opium and cocaine was passed, there were problems finding enough MPs to vote on the committee stages. In 1893 a huge report by the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission had concluded that 'the moderate use of hemp drugs is practically attended by no evil results at all'. It recommended, for India, 'restraining use and improving the revenue by the imposition of suitable taxation' at 'as high a rate of duty as can be levied without inducing illicit practices' on the grounds that 'the best way to restrict the consumption of drugs is to tax them.' Taxes on cannabis were already normal in India - Bengal state government made about £100,000 per year through the 1860's [£5-10 million in today's money]. This report from the Empire was never publicly discussed in the UK, and the authorities were content to have no laws at all controlling cannabis for another thirty years.

The herb had few supporters in the 1920's. European hemp for ropes and paper was usually believed to be a separate plant, though related. Modern medical uses were rare and both traditional herbal medicines and patent potions had become unfashionable at the turn of the century, after campaigns by the British Medical Association. Apart from a few adventurous poets and musicians, there were hardly any recreational cannabis users in Europe.

There was little or no opposition to cannabis use, either. Prohibitionist campaigns worked against alcohol and cocaine at home, opium abroad. Some people thought opiate users would take up cannabis if their supplies were cut off. 'Drugs' were seen as filthy foreign stuff which should be suppressed for the foreigners' own good. Fear and contempt of 'coloureds', and of sex, was the visible motive in a few 1920's newspaper drug scandals about foreigners with cocaine or opium, and the English girls they allegedly corrupted and destroyed, but cannabis was rarely accused.

Cannabis was added to the agenda of the 1925 Convention on Narcotics Control because Egypt and Turkey proposed it. Both countries had histories of prohibition based on interpretations of Islamic law; newly secular, they were trying to be 'modern'. The Egyptian delegate denounced 'Hashism' which he said caused from 30-60 per cent of the insanity in his country. 'In support of this contention... there are three times as many cases of mental alienation among men as among women, and it is an established fact that men are much more addicted to hashish than women'. Hashish addicts, he said, were regarded as useless derelicts. 'His eye is wild and the expression of his face is stupid. He is silent; has no muscular power; suffers from physical ailments, heart troubles, digestive troubles etc; his intellectual faculties gradually weaken and the whole organism decays. The addict very frequently becomes neurasthenic and eventually insane.'

These claims for the dangers of cannabis made in 1925 were not investigated by the League of Nations until ten years after it was banned. That study was never completed. The only serious investigation made previously was the 1893 Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report, which contradicted most of the Egyptian's speech, but was not referred to.
India opposed banning cannabis in the Convention, as their delegate said it had been used there since time immemorial, grew wild, and they doubted that a prohibition could be enforced. The British delegate suggested that it should be considered further and abstained from the vote, but signed in the end, along with another 57 nations.

Drugs laws in the United States have a quite different history. The USA never joined the League of Nations, and didn't sign the 1925 Convention because they were more anti-drugs than any other nation. They proposed that opium use be completely banned world wide within ten years, and walked out of the conference when this was rejected, before cannabis was mentioned.

Alcohol was prohibited in the USA from 1920-33, and as early as 1911 hearings on a Federal anti-narcotics law heard debate on controlling cannabis. The USA unsuccessfully proposed that cannabis be discussed at the Hague Conference on opiates in 1912. Their enthusiasm for drug control was a mix of moralism and self-interest, both tending to boost America's developing international influence. Most medical drugs were imported, so controlling them made little difference to US domestic policy, but gave the US a moral and economic lever against their producers, mostly Britain and Germany. Cannabis was an exception, so it had some friends in the pharmaceutical, veterinary, and seed oil industries. It also had enemies among the press and politicians who used it as part of an attack on Mexican immigration and Black cultural independence..

William Randolph Hearst's newspapers introduced the word 'marijuana' into English from Mexican slang, confusing the public into thinking this devil weed was quite different from the familiar agricultural plant hemp. Hearst sold lots of newspapers using stories about coloured men using drugs to corrupt white women. Many of them allegedly carried big knives and would go wild at any provocation. Others were perverts. The specific drug and the race of the villains changed every few years, but the story never did. Versions are still used in some anti-drug campaigns. Marijuana had its turn from the 1920s-60's. Hearst also had massive wood pulp paper making interests which would have been damaged by wider use of hemp fibre.

After missing out on the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Act and the 1925 treaty, there was no Federal control of cannabis until 1937, though several Southern states with Mexican immigrants urged the Government to ban it. Research funded by New Orleans' District Attorney associated marijuana with the loss of civilised inhibitions, leading to rape, murder and homosexuality. The press spread these politically motivated 'scientific research' stories enthusiastically.

These claims for the dangers of cannabis made in 1925 were not investigated by the League of Nations until ten years after it was banned. That study was never completed. The only serious investigation made previously was the 1893 Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report, which contradicted most of the Egyptian's speech, but was not referred to. India opposed banning cannabis in the Convention, as their delegate said it had been used there since time immemorial, grew wild, and they doubted that a prohibition could be enforced. The British delegate suggested that it should be considered further and abstained from the vote, but signed in the end, along with another 57 nations.

Drugs laws in the United States have a quite different history. The USA never joined the League of Nations, and didn't sign the 1925 Convention because they were more anti-drugs than any other nation. They proposed that opium use be completely banned world wide within ten years, and walked out of the conference when this was rejected, before cannabis was mentioned.

Alcohol was prohibited in the USA from 1920-33, and as early as 1911 hearings on a Federal anti-narcotics law heard debate on controlling cannabis. The USA unsuccessfully proposed that cannabis be discussed at the Hague Conference on opiates in 1912. Their enthusiasm for drug control was a mix of moralism and self-interest, both tending to boost America's developing international influence. Most medical drugs were imported, so controlling them made little difference to US domestic policy, but gave the US a moral and economic lever against their producers, mostly Britain and Germany. Cannabis was an exception, so it had some friends in the pharmaceutical, veterinary, and seed oil industries. It also had enemies among the press and politicians who used it as part of an attack on Mexican immigration and Black cultural independence..

William Randolph Hearst's newspapers introduced the word 'marijuana' into English from Mexican slang, confusing the public into thinking this devil weed was quite different from the familiar agricultural plant hemp. Hearst sold lots of newspapers using stories about coloured men using drugs to corrupt white women. Many of them allegedly carried big knives and would go wild at any provocation. Others were perverts. The specific drug and the race of the villains changed every few years, but the story never did. Versions are still used in some anti-drug campaigns. Marijuana had its turn from the 1920s-60's. Hearst also had massive wood pulp paper making interests which would have been damaged by wider use of hemp fibre.

After missing out on the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Act and the 1925 treaty, there was no Federal control of cannabis until 1937, though several Southern states with Mexican immigrants urged the Government to ban it. Research funded by New Orleans' District Attorney associated marijuana with the loss of civilised inhibitions, leading to rape, murder and homosexuality. The press spread these politically motivated 'scientific research' stories enthusiastically.

The rest is here.
http://www.idmu.co.uk/historical.htm


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