Harry J. Anslinger headed the Federal Bureau of Narcotics for 31 years. His biggest contribution to the so-called "reefer madness" propaganda movement was the 1937 Marijuana Transfer Tax Act, which imposed strictures on the growing and use of the plant which rendered hemp effectively worthless by taxing it out of existence. Anslinger passed this bill through rather dubious means. His testimony in favor of the Act, for example, consisted largely of selections from Hearst newspaper articles read aloud into the Congressional record. Even at the time, reputable experts had already deemed much of this propaganda inaccurate. Also, Anslinger took pains to ensure that any groups and/or individuals that might have resisted the passing of the Act were either informed late (or not at all) that the hearings were even taking place. The American Medical Association, which would likely have argued the medicinal benefits of marijuana, was notified only two days prior to the hearing. Their representative, Dr. William Woodward, denounced the hearings as being rooted in tabloid sensationalism, and demanded an explanation for the secrecy involved. Anslinger ignored Woodward's vociferous objections -- when before the vote he was asked by Congress if the AMA agreed that the bill should be passed, a member of Anslinger's committee replied, "Yes, they are in complete agreement."
Anslinger kept a file on marihuana known as the "Gore File," from which he took most of his public speeches -- given at PTA meetings as a form of scare tactic -- and arguments. The Gore File consisted largely of excerpts from Hearst publications, racist statements, and unsubstantiated opinions. Recent examinations of this file have also shown it to be contradictory in nature. In one document, Anslinger states that marijuana incites lust and fits of homicidal violence in its users. Another argues that marijuana takes away a man's will to fight, thereby rendering him impotent for war, and open to Communist suggestions.
The most effective illustration of Harry J. Anslinger's propaganda can be found in his own words -- excerpts from his article "Marijuana: Assassin of Youth." This was published in the July 1937 issue of The American, and abridged and reprinted in Reader's Digest the following year (see attachment immediately following).
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