I recently read with interest a column by Mike McFeely, a WDAY radio host and a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, entitled “Medical marijuana a needed debate in North Dakota.” He wrote that North Dakota backers of medical marijuana would be wise to do some storytelling at the end of his column.

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Shortly before marijuana was banned by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, new technologies were developed that made hemp a potential competitor with the newly founded synthetic fiber and plastics industries. Hemp’s potential for producing paper also posed a threat to the timber industry. Evidence suggests that commercial interests having much to lose from hemp competition helped propagate reefer madness hysteria, and used their influence to lobby for marijuana prohibition.

After Prohibition on alcohol ended in 1933, funding for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now the Drug Enforcement Administration) was reduced. The FBN’s own director, Harry

J. Anslinger, then became a leading advocate of marijuana prohibition. In 1937 Anslinger testified before Congress in favor of marijuana prohibition by saying, “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind. Most marijuana smokers are negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with negroes.”

Marijuana prohibition is founded on lies and rooted in racism, prejudice and ignorance. Just as politicians believed Anslinger to be a marijuana expert in 1937, many people still believe law enforcement officials are marijuana experts. In reality, law enforcement officials have no expert knowledge of marijuana’s medical or health effects, but they do represent an industry that receives billions of tax dollars to enforce marijuana prohibition.

Also worthy of noting is that the alcohol industry funded the movie reefer madness, a film showing people smoking marijuana and then turning into mass murderers. This film was shown in movie theaters and schools across America stereotyping marijuana with the lies that still exist today.

Now how is that for a story?