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article imageThe G-Man who started the Reefer War

By Robert Weller     Jan 2, 2014 in Crime
Denver - No, it wasn't J. Edgar Hoover. In the best tradition of government, Harry Anslinger knew what to do when he lost his job as assistant commissioner of Prohibition when booze became legal again in 1933.
He got himself made czar of a drug war that hadn’t existed before.
Anslinger couldn’t have dreamed how successful he would be, if the definition of success is how much government money you spend and how many people die.
CNN estimates that 1 trillion was spent since the late President Richard Nixon ignored his own commission and started a war on drugs. Nixon was concerned that soldiers were coming back from Vietnam addicted to hard drugs like heroin.
It would be difficult to even guesstimate how much it cost since the first drug arrest by the new Federal Bureau of Narcotics occurred in 1937. Where? In Denver.
Anslinger came to the Mile High City to watch the trial of Samuel Caldwell, who was sentenced to four years imprisonment, the Denver Post reported. The story at Caldwell’s trial was that he had sold weed to Moses Baca, who got stoned and then murdered his wife. Newspaper headlines began calling it “murder weed.” Actually, Baca had killed no one, and only got an 18-month sentence.
The judge, who sentenced both men three days after they were arrested, said, “I consider marijuana the worst of all narcotics, far worse than the use of morphine or cocaine."
Much money was made, of course, by drug cartels and federal, state and local narcs.
The only change from Prohibition was that the product was now coming from the south, Mexico, instead of distilleries in Canada.
Even with the federal government making marijuana studies illegal, some were done. They found it harmless, including one in 1971 ordered by Nixon.
Meanwhile, alcohol was okay, and even now is allowed in TV commercials, long after cigarettes were banned.
The Centers for Disease Control says 88,000 people die each year from excessive alcohol consumption, according to CDC Fact Sheet reports. The number of deaths attributed to marijuana is zero.
Historians wrote that marijuana had been used as a medicine for thousands of years. But no direct studies were possible while it was illegal.
Only in recent years has it been learned that marijuana can produce an ingredient, CBD, that is not psychoactive but very effective in a number of treatments.
Colorado became the first state to sell legal marijuana on Wednesday. Denver, where Caldwell was arrested, had more than a dozen weed outlets open.
But state health officials still make it difficult for patients who need marijuana to get it; that even includes war veterans suffering from PTSD.
For Anslinger, anything was acceptable to stop the spread of the demon drug. The Fix, a website that focuses on addition and recovery, and other websites, have reported Anslinger supplied heroin to communist-baiter Joe McCarthy to get his support in the early 1950s.
Drugs were to Anslinger what communism was to McCarthly. Unfortunately, the senator died in 1957 from alcoholism. Anslinger, the narcotics tzar for 32 years, held a United Nations’ drug job after that, and didn’t die until 1975.
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