The U.S. Forestry service has issued an apology for its insensitivity last month when it used the same racist logic in its war against drugs that started the federal government’s armed war against its own citizens more than 70 years. The “regrettable” and “insensitive” remarks were issued in the form of a warning during a media briefing on August 26th as the result of their recent discovery of a cannabis grow consisting of more than 14,000 plants in the Pike National Forest. The Forest Service officials said that they believed illegal immigrants were being brought to Colorado by Latin American drug cartels to cultivate the massive illegal marijuana crops. They then warned forest visitors to beware of campers who eat tortillas, drink Tecate beer and play Spanish music because they could be armed marijuana growers. Oops!
The Hispanic community was outraged, and rightly so. Two weeks ago Forest Service officials met with 17 Colorado Hispanic leaders and apologized for their poorly chosen words that were intended as a well-intended safety warning. On Monday the U.S. Forest Service issued a written apology to the Hispanic Community in a New Release on the USDA.gov website.
But the entire incident is just another result of the government’s incompetent handling of the problem of addiction in this country and their misconception that prohibition and incarceration of “users” and traffickers is the only way to deal with addicts. “Make it illegal and they will stop.” Or the other prohibitionist favorite, “Build the prisons, and we will fill them.”
The racist comments are nothing new, when you consider the words of Harry Anslinger, the architect of the “Reefer Madness” style campaign against marijuana that insured that the former Bureau of Prohibition agent could enjoy over 30 years of job security in his position as Commissioner of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Masterfully using the media, Anslinger effectively lead a campaign of lies and racism to shift the public’s opinion to acceptance of the government’s prohibition of marijuana that officially became law in 1937 despite objections from the American Medical Association.
Harry Anslinger quotes:
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most 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, entertainers and any others.”
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
“…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
The U.S. Forestry Service points to the damage done to public lands by illegal marijuana cultivation, yet it fails to correctly identify the cause of the damage. The damage is not caused by the cannabis plants themselves which grow like a weed and thrive in most climates. The damage is caused by prohibition. Prohibition makes it impossible for people to grow their own cannabis, prohibition forces people to purchase marijuana from organized crime, prohibition gives marijuana its high profitability and reason to use the public lands as a means to avoid losing private property in seizures.
Marijuana use will not go away despite the government’s efforts to demonize it and stop its cultivation, sale and use. Marijuana has proven medical value despite the federal government’s denial of the medical evidence, and with their refusal to remove it from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Even racist undertones won’t stop marijuana use any more than prohibition stopped alcohol use. All prohibition does is reinforce the strength, power and profits of organized crime just as alcohol prohibition did.
Tecate beer, tortillas, and Spanish music have no distinct connection to today’s marijuana use, except maybe when the munchies set in, but they definitely do in the eyes of the federal prohibitionists because they have made Latin American drug cartels more powerful than the Latin American governments. So just to be on the safe side, if you are planning a trip to one of our National Parks and forests, eating hot dogs and hamburgers while listening to Frank Sinatra would probably be a much safer bet, than tacos and Ricky Martin.
By William Skordelis