Marijuana: A Chronic History Documentary Part II

Read Part I about the History Channel Documentary: Marijuana – A Chronic History

Take The Marijuana Quiz

Marijuana History

The History Channel documentary then chronicles the history of marijuana in the world and in the U.S. It has long been used for medicinal, utilitarian, and recreational purposes.

anslingerAncient cultures used it to treat malaria and rheumatism. China was the exported the plant to Europe wehre it was greatly celebrated.

Then, according to Melissa Etheridge, “it came to America 300 years ago   with settlers.”

In Virginia the there were laws were created by the King of England who fined people that grew the more profitable tobacco instead of hemp for England.

As time progressed, it became more and more controversial. Napoleon outlawed hemp. In the United States, Mexican immigrabts used it when they came to the United States for work and this disturbed some people leading for the legislation against marijuana to begin.

In the 1930s, the jazz age it was synonymous with marijuana.  See the footage of  Cab Calloway’s band singing “Funny Reefer man”

By 1935 marijuana was outlawed in 24 states. The Feds largely ignored it until the fateful day that Harry J. Anslinger (pictured above) became the first head of the  Bureau of Narcotics. Harry being the first Drug Czar would make it a lifelong battle to combat marijuana use and cause international policy to reflect a fear of marijuana. marijuana stamp

Anslinger first got state and local authorities to crack down on it.  One tactic was the invention of  a special “stamp” that had to be present to  produce  and sell marijuana. To get the stamp you had to bring the marijuana to Washington. this in effect was breaking the law and got you arrested.

The famous (and ridiculous) movie Reefer Mdaness was commissioned by Anslinger.

Using Fear to Control Marijuana Use

In the 1940s and 1950s drugs like marijuana were associated with to communism.

IN 1961 Anslinger secured an international treaty outlawing marijuana in 160 countries thus “exporting his policies around the world”

Enter the Age of Aquarius. The biggest cultural shift in American history began in the mid 1960s. The Vietnam war, pop music, and the civil rights movement all contributed to a phenomenon that caused the country to be changed forever.   During this time, people began to see marijuana as a way to “expand thinking.” It became a celebrated centerpiece of the counterculture

Also, many Americans were exposed to it while serving in Vietnam.  In Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia there were no laws and no taxes on marijuana  – it was grown everywhere.  Having marijuana become commonly used by U.S. soldies united both sides of the peace movement in favor of the drug.

Nixon Through Reagan and “The War on Drugs”

Richard Nixon believed that all people that used drugs were aberrant and wrapped up in immorality.  This might have led some individuals to smoke it  – as an act of rebellion.

Nixon created the DEA and fought against the people who were always against his policy by attacking one of their pastimes: marijuana use.

Then the Watergate Scandal broke (whoops) and after that President Carter did not make marijuana prosecution as high of a priority.

Enter Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s “just say no” campaign. Pot actually become much harder to get as the crack down was implemented.  And the black market was fueled.  Just like the illegalization of alcohol fueled the mafia in the 1930’s, the criminalization of marijuana led to a huge criminal element as growing and smuggling marijuana meant big bucks.
During the Clinton era,  the supply and the demand for marijuana grew –  as did increase in violent crime.

Today, marijuana is a huge business with marijuana catapults and federal busts of over 100 tons at a time.

Now, the Mexican drug cartels are evengrowing in the United States – in the same areas (like the emerald triangle and the central valley) as the California born growers.  The drug cartel crops arethese are gigantic – often capable of producing multi millions of dollars worth per season.

Did the War on Drugs Fail?

1978 50% of high school students admitted to using marijuana. In 1978 48% are using it (and we know that OxyContin use in high school is now off the charts)

In 2009 over 10 million plants were confiscated, yet the supply is neverending.

Proliferation of Marijuana in the United States

– 10% of American adults usemarijuana regularly – 22 millon users

– 1 out of 3 college students use marijuana

– TV shows like Weeds have normalized marijuana like never before.

– Many patients use it

Dispensaries – The New Marijuana Shopping Ground

The dispensary  business is booming 2000 have opened in the U.S

There are 700 In LA (more than Starbucks locations) (ed note-since the production of the History Channel documentary, the “crackdown” on medical marijuana dispensaries in Californis officially “on”)  Dispensaries have unfortunately been the scene of gruesome crimes, some attributable to drug cartels.

Edibles are popular with marijuana users these days and the History Channel takes us inside a “edible plant” (some guy’s kitchen) to meet Chris. You can’t help but wonder what kind of standards of cleanliness Chris’ operation is required to uphold and by who?

Marijuana Delivery

Then the History Channel documentary introduces us to “Ryan.” Ryan is on the cutting edge of 21st century marijuana delivery and distribution. He services 350 to 400 patients by driving marijuana products to their homes.  The delivery service provides his clients with privacy. Some older more conservative people “don’t want to run into their kids’ friends at dispensaries” according to Ryan.

Business is booming for the marijuana delivery business. Marijuana delivery is in a “legal gray area” but for the time being it is creating great profits for businesses like Ryan’s.


The final piece of the History Channel Documentary is a recap of Spice.  Spice is a “synthetic  form marijuana “that has grown in popularity because it was not immediately illegal (as a newsubstance).

Read more about Spice here. Spice (or “K2”) is  now illegal and you can read comments from the inventor that he thinks that smoking Spice is “a stupid thing to do” and “wh wouldn’t you just smoke marijuana – it is safer.”