Book Review: Drugs Are NOT The Devil's Tools (Vol. 1 & 2)
Steve Elliot reviews Drugs Are NOT The Devil's Tools, a book by David Bearman
The origins of drug laws in the United States are fascinating, and marijuana’s prohibition had very little to with its medicinal and stress-relieving properties, according to Dr. David Bearman, author of “Drugs are NOT the Devil’s Tools,” a comprehensive two-volume work. “History,” Dr. Bearman writes, “indicates it was economics and greed.” Bearman’s chronology details the events leading up to the development of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The legislation, which prohibited the consumption of Cannabis and heavily taxed the sale of hemp, was driven by certain business interests and was promoted with rhetoric fueled by racial prejudice.
“The laws were clearly aimed at demonizing and controlling minorities and other ‘undesirables,’” Bearman writes. Former alcohol “revenuer” and prohibitionist Henry J. Anslinger was appointed director of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs agency in 1930. The FBN was responsible for enforcing federal drug laws against heroin, opium and cocaine, but not Cannabis because it was not considered a dangerous drug.
In 1933, Anslinger launched a national propaganda campaign, speaking across the country and writing many commentaries in newspapers and magazines — with assistance from the Hearst syndicate — against what he called the evils of “marihuana” or marijuana. Most people did not know “marijuana” was Cannabis.
Anslinger asserted a bogus relationship between marijuana (never using the word Cannabis) with murder, mayhem, Mexicans, Negroes and jazz. Anslinger worked hard to associate the word “marijuana” with depraved behavior and heinous acts. He was a great publicist, but also an unprincipled liar and racist.
The alleged acts were trumpeted in lurid magazine articles he authored, including “Youth Gone Loco” and “Sex-Crazing Drug Menace.”
His most well-known article was probably “Marijuana — Assassin of Youth”, which appeared in the America Magazine in 1937. In it, Anslinger wrote: “No one knows, when he places a marijuana cigarette to his lips, whether he will become philosopher, a joyous reveler in a musical heaven, a mad insensate, a calm philosopher, or a murderer.” This racist propaganda assault culminated in the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.
Dr. Bearman reveals that from the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937, to Nixon’s War on Drugs, to the present, those behind the promotion and passage of U.S. drug laws often had a vested interest, usually financial or political or both.
“Drugs are NOT the Devil’s Tools” is a well-researched look into the origin of United States drug laws. Dr. Bearman shows how, through intertwining motives of discrimination and greed, often under the guise of morality, the government has created a drug policy that is completely dysfunctional. As he points out, our drug laws have been very effective in further marginalizing already discriminated-against groups and a total failure in every other respect.
Dr. Bearman shows that there has rarely been a civilization in the history of mankind that has not used some form of mind-altering substance. He also demonstrates that the very real medical properties of Cannabis were recognized thousands of years ago and describes the useful medical properties of opium, coca, alcohol and spices.