Tag Archives: History

A CHRONIC-le History of Cannabis Prohibition 101

Happy 4/20 everyone!  I hope you’ve been enjoying Weed Week here at MakeSandcastlesNotWar so far.  Earlier this week we dived into a tour of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, discussed some Boston-themed strains (Golden Goat weed for the GOAT Tom Brady!), and even talked about the legendary godfather of cannabis legalization Dennis Peron.  It’s been quite a long and hazy journey and April 20th is finally here.

For this special holiday, I saved the best topic for last – the history of cannabis prohibition.  The complex history of cannabis prohibition is one of my favorite PR nightmares of all time, a nightmare initiated from a web of lies coming from figures in all walks of life.  What started out as a drug propaganda initiative has now become a heavily damaged plant that people are reluctant to touch.  What we learned in the D.A.R.E. program at grammar school was completely different from what we figured out as adults.

So how did this PR nightmare start?  What notable figures caused prohibition to happen and what was their initial purpose?  Why was cannabis/hemp made illegal in the first place?  And what does the future hold for cannabis prohibition now that recreational cannabis use is legal in 1/10 of the country?

Well folks, it’s time to start the lesson that will be known as Cannabis History 101.  Sharpen those pencils and crack open the notebooks, because it’s time to dive in what will be the most confusing and shocking PR nightmare of all time.  It’s complex, shocking, and will leave you scratching your heads for quite a while.  Get your pencils ready, because the history lesson is about to begin!

Cannabis History 101

Our history lesson takes us back to the 1930s – the Great Depression was hitting hard around America.  World War I ended a decade ago, but the rising debt was too much for America to handle.  More than half of the nation’s citizens became unemployed, with many people committing suicide during these hard times.  Many men lost their job, prompting to become desperate for any position they could take.  Most families barely ate enough, to the point where they almost died of starvation.

One successful man, William Randolph Hearst, was reaping in profits through his newspaper business.  His newspaper was the first to introduce the term ‘Marihuana’ (spelled with ‘h’ rather than a ‘j’) into the English language.  Marihuana was used as a Mexican slang term to confuse the general public that this ‘devil weed’ was very different from industrial hemp.  Hearst sold lots of newspapers containing stories that depicted African-Americans manipulating white women through marijuana.  These ‘dangerous’ marijuana users carried knives and would run rampant at any provocation.  Racism ran high during the 1930s, which explained why people took the bait and followed along with these manipulating stories.

For the record, William Randolph Hearst KNEW that marijuana/hemp wasn’t harmful at all!  Hearst knew that hemp could substitute for paper, thus the paper mills could be replaced with hemp mills.  Replacing paper with hemp would have ran him out of business, so running these racist stories was crucial for keeping business alive.  This strategy was what initiated the PR nightmare surrounding cannabis and hemp.

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While Hearst damaged the reputation of cannabis and hemp through his newspaper stories, another anti-pot figure was making waves as well.  On 1931, former prohibition commissioner Harry J. Anslinger was appointed as head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.  He was reluctant at first to extend his powers over marijuana, even though he thought it was evil and thought it was impossible to enforce prohibition of a plant that would grow wild ‘like dandelions’.  Instead, Anslinger encouraged for State laws and anti-drug propaganda.

By 1935, Harry Anslinger promoted a federal law that the Federal Bureau of Narcotics could enforce.  All positive evidence of cannabis was suppressed during the Congressional hearings.  Organizations like the Oil Seed Institute and American Medical Association opposed the law, but were ignored.  Anslinger would quote press cuttings as proof that cannabis would be ‘the most violence-creating drug on the planet’.  The Marijuana Tax Act was initiated on October 1st 1937, which made it illegal to grow or transfer any forms of cannabis without a tax-paid stamp (which were NEVER made available for any private citizen!).

With the new Marijuana Tax Act put into place, Harry Anslinger utilized this opportunity to expand his bureau.  His new target was jazz musicians through an ugly campaign against this ‘demon dope’.  Through posters and films, Anslinger associated demon dope with jazz music, inter-racial sex, madness, and even death.  A film titled Reefer Madness released in the late 1930s, which showcased average Americans consuming cannabis and running rampant.  His theory was that jazz musicians were smoking the devil’s lettuce and manipulating white women into a life of madness.

African-American jazz musicians were smoking cannabis during the 20s/30s.  It was called ‘jazz’ because the music would prompt shrieking women (known as jazz babes) to dance to the music.  Jazz was known as ‘voodoo music’ because its tunes had this voodoo magic that would cause women to be swept off their feet.  This PR tactic would be later used for rock N roll music where teenagers would be warned that rock music causes teen pregnancy and drug use.

Up until the 1960s, Harry Anslinger’s propaganda reigned the nation.  Cannabis was an important plant during the counterculture movement and wouldn’t receive any more negative backlash until the 1970s when President Nixon came into play.  President Nixon entered the oval office, shutting down the pot party and initiating what is known as ‘The War on Drugs’ (which has been a COMPLETE failure from the start).  Nixon called for a war against public enemy one, a.k.a. marijuana.  The proceed was to go after other drugs (cocaine, LSD, heroin, etc), but the main focus was to eradicate all cannabis plants in America.

Even after Nixon’s term was up, the ‘War on Drugs’ mindset reigned on in the 80s and so forth.  Nancy Reagan continued the fight with her ‘Just Say NO’ campaign, especially after crack-cocaine was introduced to the public.  From that point on, cannabis’s stigma was still heavily damaged and approval for cannabis legalization was low.

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And there you have it – cannabis prohibition got its start through ingenious public relations tactics.  Fear and ignorance fueled the PR nightmare that damaged cannabis’s reputation in society.  These so-called ‘facts’ about things like cannabis destroying your brain cells were just simple pseudo-science that people believed in.  Notable people like William Randolph Hearst and Harry Anslinger were pioneers in fueling the ‘reefer madness’ propaganda that is lingering on today.  Even as cannabis legalization becomes a reality for most of this country, its reputation still needs to be salvaged before business starts booming.

It’s been decades since Nixon’s War on Drugs and so far drugs have been winning (FUN FACT: an aide of Nixon released a statement last year that the drug war purposely targeted hippies and African-Americans).  This ‘War on Drugs’ has brought in more crimes, more violence, a shocking increase in prison construction, a huge rise in prison populations (with California’s prisons being dangerously overcrowded!), and more drug use.  In this 21st century, the dominoes continue to fall and cannabis is continually becoming accepted in American society.

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That my friend, is the PR nightmare that is cannabis prohibition here in America.  I hope you have a glorious 4/20 celebration.  It’s 4/20 somewhere!

Dennis Peron: Godfather of Cannabis Legalization

Medical cannabis is one of the most popular alternative health treatments used in the United States.  With medical cannabis being legal in more than half of the country, many people are straying from institutionalized prescription pills to the nostalgic haze of cannabis.  Hundreds of thousands of people are medical patients and more people are signing up for a medical card after discovering the amazing benefits of cannabis.  People consume medical cannabis to treat pain, nausea, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, anxiety, arthritis, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and many other life-threatening illnesses.

The path towards recreational cannabis is becoming clearer, what with the hazy smoke of cannabis clearing away.  Before recreational cannabis was making headlines within Colorado and Washington State, the medical cannabis community was booming ever since Prop 215 passed in California.  Prop 215 passed more than 20 years ago, with more than half of the country turning their eyes towards California and their unique business.

So how exactly did we get there?  Where did the first medical marijuana start? How is it that something like ‘medical marijuana’ became such a common alternative practice recommended by doctors?  What was the reason behind selling cannabis for medicinal use?

All of these questions lead us to one man in particular: Dennis Peron.  Dennis Peron is a prominent figure in the LGBTQ and cannabis community.  He described himself as a “gay kid from Long Island who joined the Air Force to get away from home during the Vietnam War” in his book Memoirs of Dennis Peron that released in 2012.  Peron is known as a pinnacle counterculture figure on the West Coast, with his humility and compassion for the ill being frequently recognized by Ed Rosenthal and Jack Herer.

After returning to San Francisco from Vietnam in 1969, Dennis Peron dealt cannabis around his hometown where he learned about cannabis’s efficacy for treating severe illnesses.  Within the 1970s, Peron ran the Big Top marijuana supermarket right out of his home at the Castro Castle (which is still open to this day within the Castro District).  Even with the counterculture movement spreading within California, Peron was busted multiple times for dealing cannabis.

A few years after his first bust, the HIV/AIDS crisis was spreading like wildfire.  Dennis Peron lost many friends, including his lover Jonathan West, during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.  It was then that the country discovered (half of the reason was by accident!) that cannabis could be used as medicine.  AIDS was a mysterious illness at the time, confusing many doctors and nurses looking to treat patients.  The only thing that really helped AIDS patients was consuming cannabis.

Jonathan West lived long enough to testify at his trial, confessing that the confiscated cannabis from the raid was for treating his illness.  After losing his lover to AIDS, Peron shifted gears and opened up the first cannabis buyers club (which was a blueprint for what would be a functional medical marijuana dispensary).  His first version was launched on a flat within Sanchez Street in October 1991.  He had three quarters of a pound, which he would provide for those who needed it for medical reasons and sold it for free to those that couldn’t afford it.  By the summer of ’94, the cannabis buyers club attracted 2,000 members in San Francisco.

Not only did the club attract sick people that used it as a dispensary and floating support group, but it also became a center for people considering themselves as activists in a political reform movement.  Some notable members of the political pot movement were Mike and Valerie Corral, Dale Gieringer, Jack Herer (author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes!), Tod Mikuriya, Pebbles Trippet, and many other notable figures.  From ’94-’95, these activists helped to draft and lobby bills that would make medical marijuana legal through a doctor’s approval to treat patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma.

This bill would later become what is known as Proposition 215, a significant victory for medical cannabis that passed in California on November 5th, 1996.  Dennis was one of many members that wrote the first draft of Prop 215.  After Prop 215 passed, cannabis clubs sprung up around San Francisco and Oakland.  Other than the short list, the ballot measure applied to a wide range of illnesses that could be treated with cannabis.  It took a long while since the first draft, but Prop 215 finally broke waves in California a few years later.  To this day, Dennis Peron is seen as the Godfather of cannabis legalization here in America.

And there you have it:  Dennis Peron’s residence at the Castro Castle in San Francisco was where the first medical cannabis community flourished.  It was open for all cannabis consumers, but quickly shifted gears towards medical use after the HIV/AIDS crisis hit America.  After losing his partner to AIDS, Dennis was motivated to kick-start the medical cannabis community in California.  The rest of it was history – Prop 215 passing, medical cannabis communities spreading around the country, recreational cannabis made legal in Colorado and Washington State, and so on.  None of this would have happened without the help of Dennis Peron, the Godfather of cannabis legalization.  It was a long and frustrating road, but he overcame every obstacle to help patients in need.

Whenever you’re about to load your bowl with some medical cannabis to treat your illness, just remember to thank Dennis Peron for spreading the medical cannabis community.  Thanks Dennis!

A Dog’s Purpose: Running into Hot, Troubled Waters

For one of my birthday celebrations, I invited my friends from Doyon school to go see My Dog Skip at Chunky’s.  My Dog Skip was about a 9-year-old kid named Willie Morris (played by Frankie Muniz) who was given a Jack Russell terrier for his birthday.  The story showcases how the dog fundamentally changes various aspects of Willie’s life.  It released on March 3rd, 2000 and featured Diane Lane, Kevin Bacon, Luke Wilson, Clint Howard, and other notable actors.

It was an incredible family drama that starred one of the coolest dogs as a cast.  When watching the film, I enjoyed watching Skip as the main character.  My Dog Skip was one of many heartfelt films featuring an animal as the main star.  There are a wide range of films where animals become the stars rather than the actual actors/actresses.  Most of these films broke major bank at the box office because human beings are compassionate towards animals.  One upcoming film has everyone in uproars after a disturbing video was released.

Last week TMZ released a video showing a frightened German shepherd being forced into the turbulent waters during the set of A Dog’s Purpose.  The video shows an animal handler grabbing the dog by the collar and forcing him into the water while the dog tries to scurry off from the set.  It goes on for about 40 seconds before cutting to a clip of a scene being filmed.  This video spread like wildfire, sparking outrage among the social media community.

Millions of people rallied to boycott the film and employees are scrambling to fix the PR nightmare that was created from the clip.  Just days before the film is released, several employees involved in the film are offering more details on what happened in the video.  Many of them are divided over condemning the actions and some insist that the treatment wasn’t as bad as it looked.  Whatever the case may be, this PR nightmare spread like wildfire and it isn’t ceasing anytime soon.

Dennis Quaid, who is one of the stars of the film, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to discuss his thoughts on the controversial video.  He stated that, “the video does not tell the entire story,” and that the animals “were treated with the greatest respect and care and compassion.”  On that note, he also added that he wasn’t present when the scene was shot in October 2015.  Even though he wasn’t present for that video, it was interesting that he defended the video that sparked so much outrage.

Whatever the case may be about the provocative clip, it certainly sparked nationwide outrage with its audience.  The film is still set to release on January 27th even after all the backlash.  This is an interesting PR nightmare where social media provided a horrific glimpse of how films are really made when they involve animals.  But if social media wasn’t around, would there still have been backlash?  There’s been many films where live animals were used on the set, yet they never suffered the same PR nightmare that is going on today.

This is an interesting case where various factors were involved in this PR nightmare.  Social media started booming around 2010 and people stayed in tune with what’s really happening in the world.  But on another note, America’s social culture gradually evolved over the past 20-30 years.  So, the questions we have to ask ourselves is: did social media gradually shift our social culture over the years?  Or have people seen enough animal cruelty over time that we really started getting serious about this?  And if so, did social media play a part in enhancing people’s awareness of animal cruelty in society?

In this 21st century, we have to ask ourselves some hard questions about what is socially acceptable in our country.  What was once socially acceptable 20-30 years ago doesn’t sit well with the majority of Americans.  We have seen gay marriage become legal in all 50 states, recreational cannabis use legal in 1/5 of the country, and woman have become more proactive in standing up for their human rights.  Social media opened up a window of opportunities for us to explore, thus gradually shifting the social culture here in America.  It’s reasons like this why A Dog’s Purpose received so much backlash over the controversial video that was released a week ago.

This was an interesting PR nightmare to explore!  I am definitely against animal cruelty or abuse of any kind.  It really is an issue that we need to deplete in order to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all animals.  I love my cat Beavis and wouldn’t even think to abuse her ever!

While I stand against animal abuse, it was interesting to write about this controversial video that was released last week.  Animal abuse has no place here in America and animals deserve the same love that we give to our friends/family.  It’ll be interesting to see what kind of numbers show up on the box office for A Dog’s Purpose when it releases tomorrow.  Who knows, maybe the video could still hurt the film’s publicity in the long run.  For now, let’s take a moment to show some love to our amazing pets that we have in our lives.


HIMYM/Buffy the Vampire Slayer Actor TV Criss-Cross!

We’re nearing the end of January, so just a few more months of winter.  People are still fighting off their colds/stomach bugs they caught over the holidays.  I’ve certainly got over my stomach bug since catching it within the beginning of the month!  With a stomach bug came a whole day of ginger ale, small foods, and multiple series to binge-watch on Netflix.

With my stomach knotted up from nausea, I finished up season 6 of How I Met Your Mother.  The season was pretty good and the familiar inside jokes came out left and right.  It also had some familiar guests that appeared on some episodes (Maury Povich, Frances Conroy, Alex Trebek just to name a few).  But there was one guest that really got my attention.

It happened on the episode Last Words when the gang head to Minnesota to console Marshall over the death of his father.  The gang learn that the funeral service will be held by the Reverend’s son Trey, who used to bully Marshall when he was in high school.  We later see that Trey is being real insensitive during the service.  Who played Trey in the episode?  Danny Strong.

Even while I was sick in bed, I realized that Danny Strong was Jonathan Levinson in Buffy the Vampire Slayer!  But wait, that’s not even the tip of the iceberg!  Remember my earlier post about Alexis Denisof appearing as Sandy Rivers? And how Tom Lenk was the barista in the episode ‘Swarley’?

Ok…this is going to sound crazy, but I found out that a majority of actors/actresses who appeared on Buffy the Vampire Slayer ALSO made an appearance on How I Met Your Mother!  Some other notable people include Kal Penn, Amy Acker, Seth Green, JP Manoux, and other notable guests.  I guess it’s time to call this…a HIMYM/Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor TV criss-cross!

Danny Strong is known for appearing in multiple sitcoms such as Clueless, Seinfield, Grey’s Anatomy, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and other series.  After his guest role in How I Met Your Mother, nowadays Strong is working on the TV series Empire for FOX.  He is the co-creator of the series that is currently running its 3rd season.  For film work, Danny Strong co-wrote the two-part film version of Mockingjay, the finale of The Hunger Games series.  The first part was released in November 21st, 2014 and the other half was released a year later.  It seems as though Danny is running ‘strong’ in show business over at Hollywood these days!

This was a shocking TV criss-cross discovery!  Not only did find out Danny Strong’s guest role in HIMYM, but I also discovered this Whedon alumni connection with the show.  How I Met Your Mother had some notable guests on the show and this discovery certainly proved how note-worthy it was.  What’s interesting to note is that Craig Thomas, the co-creator of the series, was persuaded by his wife to cast Alyson Hannigan because she was a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It seems like these classic shows have really spread their influences over the new series that pop up each year.

They say that we can really learn from our history and this type of situation definitely holds true.  It’s been almost 20 years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer first aired and most of the former actors/actresses seem to be doing well afterwards.  Who knew that most of these ‘Whedon Alumni’ would end up becoming one of the best TV criss-crosses of all time?  In the end, classic TV shows never go away because the former actors from the series move on to better projects in the future.


A Secret Category Approaches Clue #3

It’s been more than a week since Thanksgiving ended and we’ve had some good stories cranking out at MakeSandcastlesNotWar.  Things have been pretty normal so far, slipping back to the old routine for the days ahead.  There hasn’t been much excitement in this sluggish week and…OH MY GOD!  It’s an empty bottle!

ANOTHER bottle has entered our office!  It was filled with a note inside, just like the last two we have received.  The bottle was smashed open in order to check out the note.  This note said, “Activision released Pitfall! for the Atari 2600 game system on April 20th, 1982”.

Ok then, so our newest clue talks about Activision releasing Pitfall! for Atari 2600 over 14 years ago.  There’s already a post about a Crash Bandicoot reboot title being released next year.  Could this clue have something to do with Crash Bandicoot?  How come this clue switched from relating to music to becoming about video games?  What is the answer to ANY of this?

Well then, here’s the research that has been dug up about the latest clue.  Pitfall! was a platform game released for the Atari 2600 from Activision.  Players control Pitfall Harry as he navigates a jungle and collects treasures along the way.  Such treasures that are found in the game included bags of money, gold/silver bars, and diamond rings.  You must avoid any obstacles or hazards that come in your way of your journey.

The game received much praise after its release, becoming one of the best-selling titles for the Atari 2600 (over 4 million copies were sold when it was released!).  It is widely regarded as helping to define the side-scrolling platform genre.  Pitfall! also made the #1 video game on the Billboard for 64 weeks straight.  This game helped generate huge success to the Atari 2600 console.

Atari released the Atari 2600 on September 11th, 1977.  The Atari 2600 popularized the use of microprocessor-based hardware and ROM cartridges that contained game code.  It was typically bundled with 2 joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a game cartridge (first it was Combat, but was replaced with Pac-Man later on).  While the Atari 2600 has been discontinued for 14 years, you can still find most of these games to play online.  Things were running smoothly for the Atari 2600, until the video game crash of 1983 occurred.

Let’s rally up all of our clues together:  First we had a note about an All-Star Concert held in memory of Freddie Mercury that took place on April 20th, 1992 (read here).  A week later, we got another message about Barbara Streisand recording We’ve Only Just Begun on April 20th, 1971 (read more on this clue here!).  Now we have some message about Pitfall! being released for Atari 2600.  Two clues about music, one on a video game release, and yet NO answers that would crack the case.

What is the connection of all three clues?  Why was a video game release thrown into the mix of this puzzle?  And what’s the significance of these dates?  Stay tuned because ALL of the answers will be revealed in just TEN days!