Cannabis consumption and prohibition in the roaring 20s

The roaring 20s was a time of self-expression and cannabis consumption was on the rise. Here's a look at how cannabis was consumed during the 1920s . and the calls for prohibition of alcohol and marijuana prohibition

During the Roaring Twenties, the U.S. saw an increasingly negative attitude towards cannabis consumption as people started to pay more attention to marijuana usage. As a result, the U.S government started implementing regulations and laws, such as the Marihuana Tax Act, to prohibit its use and restrict the burgeoning cannabis culture. Eventually, in the 1930s, federal prohibition on marijuana consumption was fully enacted. In the early years of this decade, what was once known as The American middle class had no knowledge of what “marijuana” was during this time.
Cannabis consumption and prohibition in the roaring 20s

Drug policy

    • According to Bonnie and Whitebread in 1974, during this time period, the New York Times published merely four articles, barely drawing attention to marijuana in the public eye.
    • On January 11, 1923, the newspaper specifically suggested consuming in the form of cigarettes
    • On December 29, 1925, following the stipulations of the Geneva Convention, Mexico implemented a ban on cannabis.
    • On November 21, 1926, a research conducted in Panama concluded that the substance was considered comparatively harmless and suggested that a prohibition on it should not be implemented.
    • On July 6, 1927, a Mexican family became mentally unstable after consuming marijuana, leading to its subsequent prohibition in the entire state of New York.

Alcohol prohibition

During this decade in the U.S, public opinion heavily focused on banning alcohol while also beginning to pay more attention to marijuana. Numerous U.S medical experts believed In 1920, Dr. Oscar Dowling, who served as the president of the Louisiana State Board of Health, narrated an incident where a jazz musician, caught up in the cannabis culture, stole his He asserted that In November of that same year, Governor Parker was informed that two individuals were killed as a result of cannabis. (Musto, 1973:218-219).

Consumption increases in Greece

After World War I, cannabis use in Greece increased as a result of the repatriation of Greek soldiers and one million Greeks from Asia Minor, who were expelled from Turkey and moved to Greece. These individuals had previously lived in areas where the use of hashish and marijuana use was socially accepted and its cultivation was a normal part of their daily life. Consequently, they brought the habit of smoking Turkish hash with them and contributed to its spread in Greece. In the 1920s, it was not uncommon to see women returning from marijuana harvests, engaging in the preparation of hash, and entering towns singing and dancing as if they were intoxicated from alcohol. However, the use marijuana significantly declined after Germany occupied Greece during World War II. In 1921, an article titled “The Nature of Hempwood” was published by B. Rassow and A. Zschenderlein in the Paper Trade Journal on October 13th. During the early 20th century, as forests were being depleted for paper production, alternative options were being explored, such as using marijuana. Hemp was considered to have ideal qualities for making paper pulp; however, the creation of the FBN (Federal Bureau of Narcotics) led to the downfall of the cannabis industry.

Marijuana use generating violence

In 1922, police and prison officials in the US believed that marijuana led to violence. Dr. MV Oville, an expert on cannabis matters representing the American Medical Association (AMA), visited border towns to personally investigate these dangerous assumptions. He was skeptical of the police reports and prison claims regarding the criminal properties of marijuana. During his visit to a Texas prison, Oville witnessed a guard giving a marijuana joint to an inmate, expecting a violent reaction. However, the inmate smoked the entire joint calmly and without any disturbance. Oville reported this information to WADA.

The writer Emily Murphy

In Canada in 1922, Emily Murphy wrote a series of articles for Macleans Magazine that later became a book titled “The Black Candle”. These writings made false and baseless claims about marijuana and non-white races. Murphy alleged that a new drug had emerged in 1920, which was highly addictive and caused euphoria, and was negatively impacting the impoverished black and Hispanic communities. She accused this drug of being responsible for acts of violence such as murders, rapes, and robberies. Emily F. Murphy, also known as “Janey Canuck”, was a feminist who fought against the societal barriers faced by women during her time. As a strong advocate for women’s rights, she became the first judge of the British Empire in 1916. Despite her accomplishments, she was also involved with the Irish Orange Order, a prejudiced religious group aiming for a racially homogenous Canada. Judge Murphy was approached by Maclean’s magazine to write about Canada’s drug problem, a topic she vehemently opposed. To maintain anonymity, she adopted the alias Janey Canuck. In her writings, she expressed biased and sensationalist views, particularly targeting ethnic and cultural minorities such as the Chinese, Blacks, and Catholic Christians. She despised any substances associated with these groups and believed that marijuana, according to American sources, caused individuals to become immune to pain and shirk moral responsibilities, leading to violent deaths. Over time, her perception of drug addicts shifted from moral degenerates to public enemies, believing they threatened the purity of the white race. Individuals who consume this substance and smoke the plant’s dried leaves are treated as if they are engaging in criminal behavior. Addicts lose their ability to understand right from wrong. When under the influence of this drug, they become impervious to physical pain. However, in this state, they turn into mentally unstable individuals, causing deaths and deriving enjoyment from inflicting violence upon others. They show no moral responsibility and use the most extreme methods of cruelty. The publication of the “Black Candle” in 1922 aimed to elicit public opinion and influence the government to establish more stringent drug laws. Its impact was significant for marijuana prohibition, as by 1923, Canada implemented the Narcotic Act which banned the possession, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana without a license. Eventually, cannabis was included in the substances regulated by the Opium and Narcotics Act in 1929.

The tabloid press and cannabis

In 1922, there was a lot of negative attention surrounding the death of dancer Freda Kempton. Chang, a Chinese restaurant owner, had been rumored to be a drug king since 1917, trafficking various drugs such as morphine, opium, cocaine, and hash.
Chang, a Chinese restaurant owner, had been rumored to be a drug king since 1917, trafficking various drugs such as morphine, opium, cocaine, and hash.
The English press portrayed him as someone who used drugs to exploit young English girls. During that same year, three partially dressed and unconscious sisters were discovered in the UK, along with a dead Chinese man named Yee Sing, and the room was filled with opium smoke. The British media alleged that the girls had been influenced by a Chinese love potion made with hashish. In Spain, in 1922, the writer J. Mas published a novel where he compared opium, morphine, and hashish.
The tabloid press and cannabis
The tabloid press and cannabis
Local American newspapers in 1923 published articles discussing cannabis, while a committee comprised of 15 representatives from 10 pharmaceutical companies and two medical professionals was formed. This committee successfully approved the initial edition of the Uniform Narcotics Act. The South African delegation to the League of Nations has claimed that their black miners’ productivity decreases after using “dagga” (which they view as a substance of abuse). They have requested the League of Nations Advisory Committee on Opium Trafficking and Dangerous Drugs to implement international regulations in order to prevent its use. England, however, argued that any controls put in place should be based on scientific studies. In that same year, Mussolini in Italy issued a decree, signed by King Victor Emmanuel III, which restricted marijuana consumption to only medical purposes.

 Drug War History: Anslinger, Armstrong and America’s Early Anti-Cannabis Crusade

In 1924, a gathering of officials in the United States was established to authorize consistent laws for all states. This group consisted of two delegates from each state, who were chosen by their respective leaders. In that same year, these officials formed a committee known as UNDA to examine and evaluate the Uniform Narcotics Law. The initial proposal was developed in 1925, and by 1928, marijuana was incorporated into the discussions. In 1929, a third version was drafted, followed by a fourth in 1930, during which Commissioner Anslinger made an unsuccessful attempt to include cannabis in the law. The Russian botanist Janischewsky proposed in 1924 that there are three types of cannabis (cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis) with distinct yet nuanced distinctions, which are familiar to our readers who grow Here is an alternative wording: You might find it intriguing to discover the real and unimaginable explanation behind the prohibition of marijuana. Beginning in 1926, American newspapers started sensationalizing the idea that cannabis was responsible for causing schoolchildren to smoke it. They also revived the ancient myth of the sect of assassins and the legendary “Old Man of the Mountains”. One story, published by the Chicago Herald Examiner on October 24, 1926, recounted an incident where a man in Kansas who consumed marijuana believed he had transformed into an elephant. The man stripped naked and scattered his clothes on the road, allegedly due to the effects of his consumption. Dr. Strockberger from the Bureau of Plant Industry reported in 1926 that the information he received regarding marijuana differed from the reports he received from Paso, Texas. This is because the consumption of cannabis only resulted in temporary feelings of happiness, sadness, and sleepiness, without any involvement of criminal activities or violence. In the year 1927, a film called Notck Number One, which was against the use of marijuana, was produced in the United States. During that same year, a police officer reported that approximately 7,000 Mexicans resided in Gary, 10,000 in the port of Indiana, and 8,000 in the southern area of Chicago. These individuals were employed in various industries such as steel, railways, construction, etc. The officer mentioned that 35% of Mexicans were marijuana users, and a significant number of them were involved in the trafficking of marijuana.

Alcohol Prohibition and Cannabis Popularity in the Roaring Twenties

Reefer Madness: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Pot Prohibition

In this campy 1936 cult classic, a trio of drug dealers corrupt innocent teenagers with reefer cigarettes and wild jazz parties. Created to be a cautionary tale, REEFER MADNESS is a fictionalized and highly exaggerated expose of drug culture based on the story of a young girl and her near-death experience with marijuana putting herself in “dangerous” situations like hanging out with married people and surprisingly, be able to play the piano.. She got hooked after one hit—and down the rabbit hole she went.

A congress on the use of marijuana appears in Valencia

In 1927, Valencia hosted the first national hemp congress. During this congress, concerns were raised about the threat to this natural fiber due to the importation of lower quality fibers like sisal, pita, jute, and others. The congress also discussed improvements in cultivation, retting procedures, and biological sowing in a patriotic environment, taking place under the dictatorial regime of General Primo de Rivera. As a result of these discussions, on January 31, 1928, a Royal Order was issued by the Spanish state to protect domestically produced hemp. However, the global economic crisis triggered by the New York Stock Exchange crash and political changes in Spain caused hemp to become less prioritized.

New Orleans and cannabis during the 1920s

In 1928, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) opposed the sale of alcohol and cannabis in New Orleans pharmacies. The following year, Senator Lawrence Phipps requested a study on the issue of marijuana titled “Preliminary Report on Indian Hemp and Peyote” in the US Congress. This report was presented without any scientific basis, ignoring previous reports on the subject. The report labeled cannabis as a narcotic and propagated unfounded rumors about its ability to induce addiction, violence, madness, and criminal behavior. In the United States in 1929, the rising number of suicides, which had been increasing since 1929, was attributed to cannabis. Additionally, there were reports of students being caught smoking marijuana (Chicago Tribune, June 3, 1929). Despite the existing laws, marijuana could not be effectively combated, but local officials began to enforce a statute that made the possession of cannabis illegal (Chicago Examiner, June 19, 1929). In the same year, Germany also banned the trade and use of Indian cannabis and its resin. In the upcoming article, we will delve into the 1930s, which marked the darkest period in the history of cannabis.

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