The Story of Weed – Part 1/3

WeedArt_v2We all know the story of Weed, AKA cannabis, marijuana, pot, the assassin of youth. In truth, that assassin is adulthood and definitely not to be confused as maturity. Her story is woven with lies, deception and conspiracy. Weed, unbeknownst to most, is the victim.

Weed was once everyone’s friend, less a threat than healer. She thrived in religions and cultures for centuries until the ‘New World’ rebranded it as a vice, used by undesirables to create antisocial psychopaths. This was the rhetoric of capitalists who saw Weed as a competitor to creating their own antisocial psychopaths.

Weed was sacred, like the Jesus wafers and grape juice Blood-Of-Christ. The Hindus called her bhang, using the concoction to commune with the god Shiva and free oneself from sin. [1] Buddhists claim that Buddha lived on one cannabis seed a day, and they use Weed to deepen their meditation and raise awareness. [2] Rowan Robinson, in The Great Book of Hemp, mentions her use with Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, African traditions, Chinese Taoism, Japanese traditions and even Christianity. This  competition of beliefs, of religions fighting for the title of most beneficent, was won by the secularists. They outlawed the sacred for their ‘sacred-er’.

The narrow-minded racist tendency of colonialists plotted to push Weed into the underground economy. To emphasize her ties to Mexico, cannabis was rebranded to sound more Mexican by combining ‘Maria’, mother of Jesus, with ‘huana’, Spanish for ‘property’ or ‘stuff’. In 1846, it became ‘Mary’s Stuff’, or marijuana.[3] Steve D’Angelo documents the cultural shift in The Cannabis Manifesto, documenting how Weed was brought into the States with refugees from the 1910 Mexican Revolution. Weed was used as an analgesic and for her anti-inflammatory properties.[4]

Mind you, the medical industry wasn’t blind to Weed’s usefulness. She was already listed in the U.S. pharmacopeia back in 1842.[5] However, through the 1920s Weed nervously eyed alcohol being beaten into submission by the temperance movement. Law enforcement had a heyday busting distilleries and breweries, flushing the underground profits down the drain in the name of Prohibition.

Weed was introduced to contemporary society thanks to Mexican migration, and in the 1920s and 30s was promoted to Muse by the African-American jazz musicians. She was affectionately known as ‘Muggles’ and Mezz, after Milton Mezzrow who started selling cannabis cigarettes to make ends meet during the Great Depression.[6] This musehood propelled her to celebrity status, joining the era`s ranks of alcohol and barbiturates.

Politicians soon recognized their hypocrisy and alcohol was re-legalized. It helped boost economies, and became the architect of civil strife, to the point of celebrating it as a human right. Not really, but try telling that to the drinkers.

Well, come the 1930s, and a bunch of alcohol agents were standing around bars, beer in hand and scratching their heads wondering what to do next. Harry Anslinger had the answer, becoming director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Giving alcohol a pat on the back and no-hard-feelings handshake, he took a step over and gave Weed a withering stare.

[1] Robinson, Rowan, The Great Book of Hemp (Rochester VA, Park Street Press, 1996) 83

[2] The Great Book of Hemp, 86

[3] DeAngelo, Steve, The Cannabis Manifesto (Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 2015) 20

[4] The Cannabis Manifesto, 21

[5] Lee, Martin A., Smoke Signals (Toronto, Scribner, 2012)24

[6] Smoke Signals, 44

AUTHOR - Brynn Jones

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