Texas Medicine and Railroad Gin: Lessons From Prohibition

By Michael A. Stusser

The 18th Amendment revoked the sales and use of alcohol in the United States in 1919. Shocking as it may seem that such an act could become law, the roots of Prohibition were complex (people were drinking too damn much canned heat) – and misguided. The government created a campaign to scare Americans about liquor with propaganda that looks shockingly similar to another era of prohibition – the one launched against marijuana use. (Not surprisingly, Americans continued boozing it up – through home distilleries making moonshine, private speakeasies, and mob-led bootlegging.)

highergtv logo

We’re highlighting the shared journey of alcohol and cannabis prohibition – because they’re retroactively such hilarious images – and we can learn many lessons from these historical documents as we continue to fight for the legalization (and decriminalization) of weed. Laws attempting to legislate morality and ban items that are not evil or against public welfare have never worked – but Bless ‘Em for Trying!

Here’s a look at some of the ways both Prohibition and Reefer Madness were marketed to the masses

"Medicinal Whiksky" and "MJ Medicine"

“Medicinal Whiksky” and “MJ Medicine”

Before Prohibition (as with cannabis), alcohol was frequently touted to help with various ailments. Here is a bottle of bonded “medicinal whiskey” labelled “for Medicinal Purposes Only.” Cannabis, of course, has been helping with chronic pain, stress, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, cancer and much more for centuries.

An “Anti-Saloon League” was formed to promote prohibition. (The group became popular with many inside the government after passage of the income tax amendment in 1913 – as they were no longer dependent on booze to fund operations.) This is from their newspaper, The American Issue, from Jan. 25, 1919.

Screenshot 2018-07-27 13.54.26While women were major backers of the early Temperance Campaigns, they also rallied for Repeal of Prohibition. Women are, of course, also leading the legalization movement and many are CEOs of prominent cannabis companies and organizations.

As early as 1871, the campaign against spirits had begun. Here is a Temperance illustration of a drunk man hitting his wife. Much of the prohibition propaganda was sold as a way to protect women and children from boozing hubbies and fathers coming home wasted from work, drinking his paycheck away and raising hell and havoc.

Screenshot 2018-07-27 13.59.15

Straight to the Point. The bottle or your best girl!

Screenshot 2018-07-27 14.03.05
Asking American to choose their country or their cocktail, posters like these advocated for Prohibition during World War I.

Screenshot 2018-07-27 14.06.39
A far cry from biblical verse (“Wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts”), firewater was eventually sold to the masses as dangerous, deadly rotgut.

In 1936 the now infamous film Reefer Madness was released, warning Mom & Pops about the dangers of weed by showing a group of pot-smoking teenagers descending into a hellscape of murder, madness, suicide and violence after firing up a fatty. Yikes!

Similar to the Prohibition propaganda attempting to scare wives about drunken husbands, this 1942 film used the Devil himself to put the fear of God into families.

Screenshot 2018-07-27 14.11.10
Like films such as Reefer Madness and Assassin of Youth, Marihuana attempted to scare the Bejesus out of the general public with absurd claims of cannabis leading to wild orgies (if only!), impregnation, heroin addiction and, yes, kidnapping. That’s some strong ganja!

PROHIBITION REPEALED! Oh Happy Day! By 1933, Americans had had more than enough prohibition, and public opposition had become overwhelming. First Congress passed an act legalizing beer and wine, and by December of 1933 Utah became the 36th State to ratify the 22nd Amendment – repealing the 18th (Prohibition) and restoring the sale and manufacture of alcohol.

Screenshot 2018-07-27 14.16.44And soon, we’ll have a National Celebration for the Legalization of Cannabis!

Author Michael Stusser is the host of Higher Ground, the World’s first talk show highlighting cannabis culture. Think of it as “The Daily Show” meets “Good Morning America”…but with a giant bong on the desk. For more on Higher Ground and host Michael Stusser, visit www.highergroundtv.com   or www.michaelstusser.com

Higher Ground’s “Cannabis Clicker” Turns The Channel On Reefer Madness

WASHINGTON: Seattle-based multi-media company Higher Ground has created a new ad to support legalization reform efforts across the country. “Cannabis Clicker” will air in the five States with recreational legalization ballots: California, Maine, Nevada, Arizona and Massachusetts. The ad will also run in States with medical marijuana votes – including Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana. All told, nine states will be voting on ballot initiatives related to legalizing and regulating cannabis on November 8th.

“We wanted to use the old reefer madness propaganda as part of our ad,” noted Editor-in-Chief Michael A. Stusser, “and juxtapose it with what’s really going on.” The ad, titled “Cannabis Clicker,” shows side-by-side living rooms, one playing anti-drug commercials and films from a now by-gone era, while the set in the modern living room plays news stories about legalization from the past few years. “Sometimes it’s best just to let the story tell itself,” Stusser notes. “Teen drug use has actually gone down since legalization, massive taxes have been raised, there has been no increase in traffic fatalities – and the sky has not fallen.”

The Cannabis Clicker ad uses clips from the original Reefer Madness movie, the infamous “Your Brain on Drugs” PSA, as well as modern day news clips featuring studies and research related to the legalization of marijuana. 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZTvbuijlU8&w=560&h=315] 

Based out of Seattle, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012, Higher Ground is attempting to “Elevate the Dialogue” and broaden the movement nationally. While legal in Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon, the use, sale or distribution of cannabis is still a felony at the federal level, and over 700,000 Americans are arrested every year for marijuana-related offenses. The parody ad has been provided to all the pro-legalization campaigns, and is being used both on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and VIMEO) as well as paid television in selected markets in California and Nevada.

Marijuana Activists Cheer Michele Leonhart’s Exit From The DEA

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Drug Enforcement Agency chair Michele Leonhart was done in by her agents’ unsanctioned, cartel-funded sex parties in Colombia, but it’s marijuana legalization advocates who are excited to see her go.

“Hopefully this is a sign that the Reefer Madness era is coming to an end at the DEA,” said Mason Tvert, the director on communications at the Marijuana Policy Project. “Michelle Leonhart has maintained an opinion about marijuana akin to the opinion people had back in the 30s.”

As Bloomberg reported, Attorney General Eric Holder said a statement that Leonhart will step down in May, after a Department of Justice watchdog report found that several agents were involved in inappropriate behavior, and a majority of lawmakers on the House Oversight committee voted to express they had “no confidence” in her leadership. Given the chance, marijuana policy activists—opposed to her strict opposition to both recreational and medicinal marijuana—would have voted her out several years ago. Now, they’re hoping for someone who, like President Obama, is interested in a more science focused response to drug policy.

Anti-medical Marijuana Group Implies Pot Cookies Will Be Next Date Rape Drug

FLORIDA:  A group that has been outspoken in its crusade against legalizing medical marijuana in Florida is now alleging that pot cookies could be the new date rape drug, according to theNew Times.

The group No on 2 posted an image to its Facebook page earlier this month showing a man and woman with their arms around each other’s backs. The text reads “Will the new face of ‘date rape’ look like a cookie?” with an arrow pointing to a marijuana cookie in the man’s back pocket.

The ad was understandably met with criticism online with some saying the group was spreading “Reefer Madness“-esque propaganda while others said making such a claim belittles men and women who have been slipped rohypnol or another date rape drug.

Floridians will be given the chance to vote on the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, Amendment 2 on Nov. 4. If approved, physicians will be able to give medical marijuana to patients or approved caregivers to treat certain conditions.


Law Library Offers Exhibit On The History Of Marijuana

OREGON: The John E Jaqua Law Library is offering an exhibit about the history of marijuana. The free exhibit is open to all UO students, staff, faculty and community members.

The exhibit was put together by law reference librarians Kelly Reynolds, Jaye Barlous and others in the second part to a series about information destruction, manipulation and control.

The exhibit, titled “Reefer Madness: the Legal History of the Loco Weed,” takes a look at marijuana, its history and how the information about the drug has been manipulated throughout history.

It takes an in-depth look at marijuana and how information about the easily accessible drug has been manipulated to control individuals’ views on the topic.

It’s Getting Harder For The Feds To Lie About Marijuana And Get Away With It

By Paul Armentano / AlterNet

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Publicly lying about pot isn’t as easy as it used to be.

That’s the lesson White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (aka the Drug Czar’s office) Deputy Director Michael Botticelli learned earlier this week when he testified before U.S. House Subcommittee on Government Relations. Armed with what appeared to be crib notes from the days of Reefer Madness, Botticelli’s spurious anti-pot testimony immediately became the subject of Internet video fodder and mainstream media criticism. Even more tellingly, Botticelli’s comments drew stern rebukes from federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. [Read more…]

Marijuana-Schizophrenia Connection Just More “Reefer Madness”

MASSACHUSETTS:  Researchers from Northwestern University reported Monday that chronic teenage use of marijuana contributes to changes in a person’s brain structure to resemble that of a person with schizophrenia, often resulting in memory issues.

Release of the research comes about a week after Uruguay became the first nation to legalize marijuana use for Uruguayans 18 and older, and after months of increased support from the general American public to end the prohibition of marijuana, prompting some to wonder if the release of this research is a last ploy to keep marijuana illegal? [Read more…]

Forget Marijuana Madness: Could Marijuana Treat Your Depression

NETHERLANDS: Depending on who you listen to, marijuana could be the solution for whatever ails you or your ultimate demise; or it could make you dumb and sick. We have a tendency to believe the research not funded by biased parties in support of federal marijuana prohibition—the research that shows cannabis may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and obesity, kill cancer cells, and even treat depression. [Read more…]