Pubdate: Thu, 09 Aug 2007
Source: Los Angeles City Beat (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Southland Publishing
Author: Clifford A. Schaffer


[Re: "Lies, Damned Lies, and Marijuana," July 19] While Harry J.
Anslinger is rightly characterized as a blight upon American history,
one point deserves correction. The following statement is often
attributed to Anslinger: "There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in
the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers,"
he pronounced. "Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from
marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual
relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others. Reefer makes
darkies think they're as good as white men."

In fact, there is no evidence Anslinger actually said this. I have
contacted most of the historians who have studied Anslinger. They all
agree that it does not appear in any of his speeches or his writings.
They all agree that it doesn't even sound like something Anslinger
would say. There is no doubt that Anslinger said and did a lot of
stupid things, but he just didn't say this one.

It should also be mentioned that there is no real evidence that
Anslinger engaged in a conspiracy with William Randolph Hearst and the
DuPonts to outlaw marijuana because the hemp crop was a threat to
their business interests. In fact, hemp was such a declining, minor
crop at the time that even the hemp farmers themselves agreed that
marijuana should be outlawed if what Anslinger said about marijuana
was true. There is no good objective reason to believe that any
industrialist would have considered it a threat to their empire.
Hearst published scare stories about marijuana simply because
sensational headlines sold more newspapers.

Anyone who wants more information can find several works by Anslinger,
including the full transcripts for the congressional hearings for the
Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 at under Historical

Clifford A. Schaffer

Director, DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy

Agua Dulce

Mick Farren replies: I've seen that and many other poisonously racist
statements attributed by plausible sources to Anslinger, literally
since the 1960s, and have accepted them as verbatim. Some may have, of
course, been fabrications, handed down from generation to generation,
quoted and re-quoted like an urban myth. Mythology can be a by-product
of war. Especially one that's lasted 70 years. 
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