“The history of cannabis in the United States was at first a happy one. Cannabis use was neither stigmatized nor popularized. This situation lasted until the early 1930s, when crusades of Harry J. Anslinger, U.S. Commissioner of Narcotics, created a public hysteria. Anslinger appears to have acted largely at the behest of American chemical and petrochemical companies interested in eliminating hemp as a competitor in the areas of lubricants, food, plastics, and fiber.
Anslinger and the press characterized cannabis as the “weed of death.” William Randolph Hearst popularized the term “marijuana” with a clear intent of linking it to a mistrusted dark-skinned underclass. Yet it has been extraordinarily difficult for science to state exactly what the objections to the cannabis habit are. Patterns of government funding for research make it virtually certain that “Caesar will hear only what is pleasing to Caesar.”
Despite all the pressures brought against it, cannabis use rose and until today cannabis may well be America’s single largest agricultural product. This is one of the most persistent aspects of the great paradigm shift that I am here calling the Archaic Revival. It indicates that the innate drive to restore the psychological balance of typifying the partnership society, once it finds a suitable vehicle, is not easily deterred. Cannabis use diminishes the power of ego, has a mitigating effect on competitiveness, causes one to question authority, and reinforces the notion of the merely relative importance of social values.
No other drug can compete with cannabis for its ability to satisfy the innate yearnings for boundary dissolution and yet leave intact the structures of ordinary society. If every alcoholic was a pothead, if every crack user were a pothead, if every smoker smoked only cannabis, the social consequences of the “drug problem” would be completely transformed. Yet, as a society we are not ready to discus the possibility of self-managed addictions and the possibility of intelligently choosing the plants we ally ourselves to. In time, and perhaps out of desperation, this will come.”
|—||Terence McKenna, Food of the Gods – Cannabis in the Twentieth Century|