Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Retail pot shops and the Board of Health

Last night the BOH held a meeting in which they decided to restrict the amount of accessory shops to 4 in Town and suggest to the council that there only be 3 retail shops. If you watch the meeting, the fun starts at 1:03 and while it is like watching a bad movie, you will notice a striking resemblance to 81 years ago when the first Drug Czar, Harry Anslinger was appointed and his sole mission was to demonize anyone who smoked hemp/marijuana to help his friends, William Randolph Hearst, the Du Pont family, Andrew Mellon and other tycoons who pushed for hemp prohibition as a way to protect their business interests, including paper and nylon production. He created fear of hemp/marijuana by demonizing Mexicans, Blacks and musicians. Our BOH is reviving much of the same propaganda in slightly different ways.

Probably no one did more to outlaw cannabis in the United States than Harry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Ignoring the protests of key individuals in the American Medical Association (AMA), Anslinger fed the media a barrage of propaganda for decades that demonized the plant in the minds of countless Americans.
Born in 1892, Anslinger started out as an investigator for the Pennsylvania Railroad and rose to become the Assistant Commissioner of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prohibition in 1929. He married the niece of Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and one of the wealthiest people in the country, and in 1930 Mellon appointed Anslinger as Commissioner of the Treasury Department’s new Bureau of Narcotics.
Anslinger appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee on April 27, 1937, as Congress deliberated on whether to pass the Marijuana Tax Act. He testified, “Ten years ago we only heard about [marijuana] throughout the Southwest. It is only in the last few years that it has become a national menace … Since the economic depression the number of marijuana smokers has increased by vagrant youths coming into contact with older psychopaths.”
He explained that part of its appeal was its price.
“To be a morphine or heroin addict it would cost you from $5 to $6 a day to maintain your supply. But if you want to smoke a cigarette you pay 10 cents… it is low enough in price for school children to buy it.”
The committee chairman, Robert Lee Doughton, fast-tracked the proposed legislation into law, and cannabis prohibitionists now had a tool to start throwing more people in prison.
Anslinger ended his 32-year tenure as the nation’s first Drug Czar in 1962. During his reign, the prohibitionist popularized reefer madness films, the gateway drug theory, stigmas and stereotypes, the cannabis addiction myth and even the word “marijuana” itself. He also helped overcrowd the prisons with nonviolent cannabis offenders costing the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men… [and] the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races,” said Harry Anslinger, according to legend, during a Narcotics Bureau conference. He also supposedly said, “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are negroes, hispanics, filipinos and entertainers. 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.”
The failure of alcohol prohibition frustrated Narcotics Bureau chief Harry Anslinger, but he saw his chance to make his mark by eradicating heroin, opium, cocaine and cannabis. For most of U.S. history, the public and doctors viewed cannabis as medicine, so to institute the plant’s prohibition, he launched a propaganda campaign that was about as factual as a Dr. Seuss book.
“Much of the irrational juvenile violence and killing that has written a new chapter of shame and tragedy is traceable directly to this hemp intoxication,” wrote Anslinger in his book The Murderers: The Story of the Narcotic Gangs.
The Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act was passed in 1934 in an effort to unify different state drug laws, and Anslinger wanted cannabis included in the Act alongside opiates and cocaine. But the AMA, the National Association of Retail Druggists and many pharmaceutical companies lobbied against the inclusion of cannabis, as they wanted to prescribe it as they saw fit, and the final draft of the Act left it up to each state to decide whether they wanted to regulate the plant.
So Anslinger devoted himself to the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act, which would restrict possession of cannabis to those who paid a tax for authorized medical or industrial use. Anyone who didn’t pay the tax could face a penalty of up to $2,000 and five years in prison.
To build his case, Anslinger went on a propaganda offensive, telling “the story of this evil weed of the fields and river beds and roadsides” in magazines, on the radio and in public forums. He was aided by “yellow journalism” mogul William Randolph Hearst, who sold newspapers by hysterically trumpeting a different national threat every week, from marijuana to immigrants to Communism. In Hearst’s Washington Herald, Anslinger proclaimed on April 12, 1937, “If the hideous monster Frankenstein came face to face with the monster marihuana, he would drop dead of fright." Anslinger claimed that cannabis made people “fly into a delirious rage” and “commit violent crimes.” In testimony before a congressional committee, he even claimed that cannabis was more deadly than opium, the poppy plant from which we get heroin and painkillers. “Opium has all of the good of Dr. Jekyll and all the evil of Mr. Hyde,” said Anslinger. “[Cannabis] is entirely the monster Hyde, the harmful effect of which cannot be measured.”
In 1970, the Journal of Social History took an extensive look at Anslinger with “The Federal Prohibition of Marihuana.” In the study, author Michael Schaller wrote, “When called upon to explain [the cannabis] problem to Congress, the Bureau relied on unsupported accounts it had supplied to magazines and newspapers. By reading its own releases into the record as outside proof, the Bureau had in fact created evidence to prove its point.” The study further noted that some examples “consisted of several accused criminals who had pleaded marihuana use as grounds for temporary insanity.”


At August 22, 2018 at 9:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do you get all this information? Saw your guest column, nice job.

At August 22, 2018 at 10:36 AM , Blogger jim Pillsbury said...

It's part my life for the past 30 plus years. Someone has to rebut those who spread such unsubstantiated non sense.

Thanks for the compliment.. it's trending as the number one article in the paper.

At August 22, 2018 at 1:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just saw your column when I looked at MWD on line today. Interesting and full of facts I did not know. I am surprised at councilor Grove's stand on this. She appears to be a smart women but someone who is so out of touch with the facts on an issue who chooses to speak on that issue publicly just looks like an idiot. Some of what she is spewing, I actually feel embarrassed for her when she is saying it. She looks bad on this one and I think that undermines her credibility on everything she says on every topic. Someone should talk to her about that.

At August 22, 2018 at 3:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reefer madness is alive and well in Framingham thanks to some people who use old, unsubstantiated, and biased data that would not past muster for any type of official study. Given pots classification, no one can do a real study on the effects, and the reason that is is because of people like those here in Framingham who spew these ridiculous stories. Reminds me of when I was at a meeting about wind turbines and an audience member stood up and said seriously that wind turbines enlarge women's breasts. Seriously, someone actually said they read a study on that. Watching some of our District Councilors, as well as audience members, I think about how they are spewing facts that are not at all scientifically or medically proven. What is it about pot that brings out such stupidity in people who don't partake? Maybe they should take it up as the most reasonable, factual, and responsible statements being made are coming from the pot heads like you

At August 22, 2018 at 5:50 PM , Blogger jim Pillsbury said...

I forgot about the wind turbine rhetoric .. thanks for reminding me. That was pretty funny and sad to think someone in the audience would buy into that theory.

I agree with the statement that Ms. Grove is intelligent. I've been to her home and broken bread with her and Tom and even came to her rescue a few years back when she was being bullied off the Skate Park Committee.

I'm at a loss myself over her outrageous claims and statements.. that have gone un challenged. I truly believe she has not read the State Regs cover to cover. I sent her, along with the rest of the council, about 10 url's for the latest and greatest research from this country and abroad. And even with all that stuff, she still believes that pot shops are the end of or world. I can lead a councilor to the facts, but I can't make any of them read them.

At August 24, 2018 at 4:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where does the Mayor stand on this? If she is for transparency, shouldn't she let us know her thoughts on this?

At August 24, 2018 at 5:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is the does the Board of Health have any say at all in how many shops? From their website: The mission of the Framingham Board of Health is to protect, promote, and preserve the health and well-being of all residents of the City of Framingham. Under Massachusetts General Laws, state and local regulations and community direction, the Board of Health is held responsible for disease prevention and control; health and environmental protection and promoting a healthy community. The Board of Health serves as the local extension of both the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

If this is there responsibility, I would assume they are saying pot shops are part of the promoting a healthy community piece. So how can they arbitrarily chose to try and block and establishment selling something they "perceive" as not promoting a health community, but ignore restricting operations that sell products well know and proven to be detrimental to everyone's health? If we have a bigotted/biased Board of Health, we need to kick them all out and appoint new members. You can not be against one potential health issue, and ignore known health issues.

At August 24, 2018 at 5:35 PM , Blogger jim Pillsbury said...

The Mayor is in hiding on this subject. Her assistant who was on the Marijuana Task force, in my opinion, was against the whole thing. But the Mayor will have to be in the mix soon, as she is the only one left to negotiate a host agreement. And this is something that the Globe wrote about today. Seems like some officials are shaking down the pot shop owners and asking for huge money. Unfortunately, the Cannabis Commission has voted against doing anything about it. So.. the very biggest of the biggest players could offer a million dollars to make the deal, leaving out anyone who is not financially well heeled and most certainly, the minority community most effected by the drug war.


At August 24, 2018 at 7:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did I see you say the BOH is going to institute a charge that will go directly to them? Is this even legal? Do liguor stores or tobacco stores or pharmacies pay that type of fee to the BOH anywhere, not just in Framingham, but anywhere in the state, or the country for that matter.

At August 26, 2018 at 7:28 PM , Blogger jim Pillsbury said...

Under section D, Number 5: A separate marijuana operating permit, displayed conspicuously, is required for each marijuana establishment. The fee for which shall be determined by the City of Framingham Board of Health. No such fee that I am aware of is demanded from any liquor store or drug store.


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