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Folk Belief/Legend

Posted By j B On November 8, 2010 @ 2:13 am In Folk Beliefs,general,Legends | No Comments

Reefer Propaganda

– Folk Belief / Legend

“You know that the American historical background to the illegalization of Marijuana was simply a scam by William Randolph Hearst to help the flourishing of his paper empire?  Wow ok, well one of the  … what a lot of people point to as the umm as the beginning point for legislation against marijuana in the United States… Ok… It, being hemp, was obviously one of the major crops for creating paper and textiles, and in fact in WWII, the government subsidized US farmers to create hemp.  They needed it for sails, rope, and paper and all kinds of shit like that.  It was widely known that it was used for purposes like that.  But Diesel… well the guy who created the Diesel engine, his first fuel was made out of Hemp Oil.  It was widely known that at the time, fossil fuels… the refining processes for fossil fuels and oil was really crude.  And they left a lot of residue for any engine using it.  Hemp seed oil was really renewable, and it has a tendency to help the soil instead of destroying it like corn does.  So you ask, why would people illegalize it, especially back then, the hemp plant didn’t contain a lot of THC.  The strains that were being used had a low flowering capacity.  They were ideal for making textiles.  So the guy that invented diesel knew that hemp seed oil was the best thing to use for his engines, and the textile and paper companies knew that hemp was perfect for that as well.  Until whale oil kind of upended the hemp seed oil.  But anyhow, William Randolph Hearst happened to be buddies with a guy name Dupont.  Dupont discovered … among other things in the chemical labs back in the 20s … that one of the things they stumbled across was a really effective process for turning cellulous fiber into paper.  Formally, making a tree into a sheet of paper was considered an arduous and costly process.  Dupont, however, came up with a really good process to effectively turn trees into paper.  One day he was discussing it randomly with William Randolph Hearst, and Hearst happened to have a stockpile of forest and timber that was not being used for anything, he was happy to hear this.  In order to prevent losing a fortune to the hemp growing farmers, Hearst started an unbelievable anti-marijuana campaign.  So basically, he ran a major slanderous campaign, hence the birth of films like Reefer Madness in the 20s, as well as like a national, scourge of a America – Reefer Madness.  Reefer Madness was blatent and clear propaganda against marijuana.  They claimed that marijuana made people violent, and that it was a severe gateway drug, etc.  They ran the campaign relentlessly until Congress finally decided to Legislate.  And there you have it.  The greed of one man and the sorrow of a nation. (J.C.)

Informant Analysis:

“I think it is obvious that the ban on marijuana should be lifted.  Hemp is still a valuable commodity to this country, and it is far safer for the environment.  I find it ridiculous that one man’s relentless agenda for the spreading of propaganda could have such a major affect on the country.  If weed were legalized, thousands… no, tens of thousands of people if not more would benefit from the medicinal qualities alone.  Furthermore, the revenue that it would generate for the government would be huge and it would significantly help in the lowering of our deficit.” (J.C.)

Personal Analysis:

Clearly, this legend invites a certain bit of discussion in regards to belief.  I had never heard this story, but it seems rather plausible.  Hearst clearly had a personal vetted interest in making hemp and marijuana illegal.  What is most fascinating about this legend is that Hearst was successful in his attempts!  This just goes to show the power of folklore.  By adhering to pop culture, such as with the film, Reefer Madness, and by relentlessly targeting marijuana as a scapegoat and gateway drug, it is no surprise that cannabis would be slapped with a ban.  It is unfortunate that Congress didn’t see past his agenda.  Regardless, the informant is clearly somewhat biased.  There is research to suggest that there are some negative effects of cannabis, however, at the same time, the fact that our government has allowed alcohol and tobacco to remain untouched is more of a shock.  Honestly, it appears that the United States is on its merry way to legalization.


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URL to article: http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=451