Ask Old Hippie: Why Is Marijuana Illegal, Anyway?

Old Hippie Kenobi

Dear Old Hippie,

I’ve been smoking weed for awhile and always took for granted that it’s been illegal forever. Me and my buddies always assumed that it was because marijuana helps you think “outside the box”, since it certainly isn’t dangerous or unhealthy. But then I found out that it used to be legal. So what’s the real story? And do you remember smoking legally as a boy?

A: Well, first let me clear one thing up. Even I’m not that old, although when my father was a boy, it was illegal to sell alcoholic drinks, but marijuana was not only perfectly legal but sold at every corner drugstore.

Ironically, the prohibition of marijuana did indeed come right after the end of the prohibition of alcohol. If it was simply a question of not repeating a mistake — since alcohol prohibition had led directly to the rise of powerful organized crime gangs — it’s probable that people would have learned their lesson from prohibition. But there were much bigger forces working behind the scenes…and people with serious money to back them up.

There was not just one, but two industrial-strength moguls working against what was then known as the hemp plant. First, DuPont had patents on making plastics out of coal and oil, two materials which (at the time, anyway) were in seemingly infinite supply at low prices. They also had a new process for making paper out of wood pulp — one which has been responsible for polluting water wherever it’s been used for decades. Secondly, William Randolph Hearst, the infamous newspaper baron, was heavily invested in tree farms to insure his empire a good supply of newsprint and had hated Mexicans ever since Pancho Villa’s men seized one of his large plantations.

What does all this have to do with marijuana? Not much, actually. The non-psychoactive hemp plant was what these captains of industry were worried about. Hemp, with its extremely strong fibers and fast growth rate, was at the time possibly the most economically important plant on the globe, used for many industrial purposes (in fact, the U.S. Government made it legal again during WWII because they needed it for ship ropes). And hemp was what we’d call today a renewable resource, so it wouldn’t matter if you used a lot of it for newsprint this year, because you’d have a new crop next year.

But giant corporations aren’t much for saving the planet; they’d rather do anything to make themselves more powerful, no matter who else is hurt in the crossfire. And so, possibly by pure coincidence (commence eye-rolling here), it turned out that the man who appointed the nation’s first drug czar (Harry J. Anslinger) just happened to be Andrew Mellon, DuPont’s chief financial backer.

Anslinger later married Mellon’s niece, too.

Harry Anslinger was a real piece of work. Famous for racist quotes such as “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men”, Anslinger left no lie or fear unturned in his maniacal zeal to protect Americans from marijuana (a little-used Mexican word that had been essentially publicized by Hearst’s papers). Between Hearst’s yellow journalism and Anslinger’s out-and-out lies, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was rammed through Congress so fast, the hemp industry and American Medical Association (who up till then found cannabis indica extract quite useful in medicine) barely knew what had hit them until it was too late.

And that was that, until Timothy Leary fought his marijuana conviction to the Supreme Court and won. Then Richard Nixon convened a high-level commission to determine whether or not marijuana should be illegal. They recommended it be legalized. Nixon went right back to racism and banned marijuana anyway, because he hated Jews and thought that everyone in favor of legalizing marijuana was Jewish.

And those are the racist roots of our marijuana laws. President Obama, I hope you’re proud to uphold these lies.

Got a question for Old Hippie? Send in your questions to him here or post a comment below.

Old Hippie is a father of two boys and thankfully living in California where all this kind of thing is legal. He started smoking marijuana in 1967 in high school, experimented with mind-expanding drugs of all kinds, and then straightened out 15 or so years later to become an airplane pilot. After being diagnosed with depression in 2000, he lost his job and most of the following decade to prescription medications (such as antidepressants) which sapped his energy and will. Finally, a chance conversation with a friend led to a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana (MMJ). This changed his entire life, health, and outlook for the better. is his continuing story. It’s also his way to provide experienced advice on using medical marijuana effectively and responsibly, as well as advocacy, activism, and support for others. Old Hippie teaches about safe use of cannabis edibles, Canna Caps, vaporizers, dosing, and even microdosing.


Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the movie “Reefer Madness” is in the public domain and can be aired by anyone at any time. A lot of people have heard of “reefer Madness”, but have not watched it. I could not watch the whole movie myself just because of the stupidity factor. It is pure propaganda that anyone with half a brain has to realize it is just pure lies!!

I think a good strategy would be to use some of the most absurd, graphic clips in the movie to tell the pubic ” This is what our government is still selling”. And you people are still buying it.

Some people are really closed minded, and so stubborn, that they won’t change their mind or even consider facts presented.Play the stupid card for these type of people. Nobody likes to be called stupid, and nobody likes to be lied to. The “facts” presented in “Reefer” are so bizzare, so stupid, that even a closed minded protestant, presbeterian or a catholic would have to admit to their selves that they are being lied to and manipulated by the government. Get some air time and shove stupid in their faces.By all means start with Obama and Eric Holder.

I would absolutely love it if someone could
be having a debate with Holder, ON THE AIR, show a couple of clips of “reefer”, then ask him
” So, this is what you are trying to sell the American citizens? You actually believe this crap”?YOU WANT US TO BELIEVE THIS CRAP?

What it boils down to is their message is still “REEFER MADNESS”.

Leave a Reply