The move to criminalise the cannabis plant in the USA involved the branding of it under the name marijuana, an assumed name blend of Maria (Mary) and Juana (Jane) names with similar connotation to Jean and Dinah in Sparrow’s famous calypso.
Prohibitionists in their xenophobic paranoia created the word marijuana to invoke anti-immigrant sentiment. This wonderful and versatile plant was tagged to African Americans, prostitutes and the underworld by New Orleans newspapers. Harry Anslinger argued that pot users, notably jazz musicians, eventually became homicidal, suicidal, and insane…Mexicans and Blacks’ pot-incited promiscuity threatened the nation’s stability…threatened to change healthy Americans into sex-crazed foreign maniacs.
The drug war was not only a war against cannabis, it was also a war against non-whites and other countries who cultivated the crop seen as competition for the USA. Evidence of the underhandedness and willful intent to mislead others…not based on fact but prejudice and hate.
By Farah Theodore