Many cannabis activists are versed in the history of the plant they love. They know the history of how prohibition started and many of the names associated with it. Here is a story about what could be considered one of the first major media influencers in history. Almost everyone who has a love for the plant and reads have heard of the name Harry J. Anslinger. However, a name that is synonymous with his is William Randolph Hearst. These are quite possibly the two men who are single-handedly responsible for cannabis prohibition as we know it today. Countless dollars and lives have been dedicated to trying to undo the harm these two tyrants caused. Hearst owned many newspapers that were responsible for publishing the countless lies about cannabis that spewed out of the racist mouth of Harry J. Anslinger.
William Randolph Hearst was an American businessman born on April 29, 1863, in San Francisco, California, two years before the Civil War ended. He passed away in Beverly Hills, California, on August 14, 1951. Hearst was known to have a disliking for minorities. In one biography, it was said that Hearst “…hated minorities, and he used his chain of newspapers to aggravate racial tensions at every opportunity.” If this was true, he did a great job of getting his word out there. He left behind a legacy-building the nation’s largest media and newspaper company of the time called Hearst Communications.
Williams’s father was a very wealthy man and gave control of The San Francisco Examiner to William in 1887. It wasn’t long before Hearst ended up in New York, where he acquired the New York Journal. From there, he kept building his media empire, obtaining 30 more newspaper companies in major cities across America. This empire reached its peak circulation in the mid-1930s, reaching an estimated 20 million readers daily.
William Randolph Hearst built the success of his media empire using a style of journalism called yellow journalism. The dictionary definition of yellow journalism is defined as “journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.” He also took a run at politics. Mr. Hearst was elected two times as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives. He also made an unsuccessful run for President of the United States in 1904. He also had unsuccessful bids running for Mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909 and lost to Charles Evans Hughes in a run for Governor of New York in 1906.
Now that we know a little bit about Hearst let’s look at what he did to support cannabis prohibition. For starters, William Hearst was not a friend to minorities or cannabis users. This man hated cannabis so much that he authored the iconic MJ Tax Act of 1937 that was later replaced by the Controlled Substance act of 1970. His thoughts on cannabis were that,
“Users of marijuana become STIMULATED as they inhale the drug and are LIKELY TO DO ANYTHING. Most crimes of violence in this section, especially in country districts, are laid to users of that drug.”
William Randolph supported cannabis prohibition but stood against alcohol prohibition. If that isn’t a private agenda, what is? In regard to his stance on alcohol prohibition, here is what he had to say.
“I am against Prohibition because it has set the cause of temperance back twenty years; because it has substituted an ineffective campaign of force for an effective campaign of education; because it has replaced comparatively uninjurious light wines and beers with the worst kind of hard liquor and bad liquor; because it has increased drinking not only among men but has extended drinking to women and even children.”
How the heck could you stand against one form of prohibition yet completely support and usher in a new one at the same time? Birds of a feather tend to flock together, and William Randolph Hearst and Harry J. Anslinger were two peas in one jacked up pod.
William and Harry were good buddies. Harry J. Anslinger was no friend to minorities or cannabis users either. Harry was quoted saying horrendous things like,
News flash Anslinger, we never needed a cure for people like us, we need a cure for corrupt, racist politicians like yourself and those who still support this outdated draconian garbage. It was almost as if they saw the damage they could cause minorities long after they were dead and gone by fueling the fire that sparked cannabis prohibition as we know it. Those who still support cannabis prohibition, support the words of individuals such as Harry J. Anslinger and William Randolph Hearst.
It is time that we end the injustice of cannabis prohibition and the tyranny that these two individuals have brought upon the world for nearly 9 decades. Prohibition is nothing more than the direct result of a few men in power with racist intentions and hearts filled with hate. To end this downward spiral, it is first crucial for us to understand how we got to where we are today and that starts by understanding the individuals behind it all such as William Randolph Hearst.
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October 21, 2022 at 2:09 pm
Good article, and factual as far as it goes, but it leaves out some rather interesting details about Hearst’s motivations that went beyond simple racism.
Hearst owned the timberland that supplied the fiber for the paper he needed to run his empire. As long as hemp needed to be decorticated by hand, it wasn’t a threat to his empire. He changed his tune when the mechanical hemp decorticator was invented, as he didn’t want hemp paper to compete with the wood pulp he was essentially able to purchase at-cost. As far as Anslinger was concerned, his price was whatever Hearst was willing to pay him to ensure that the value of Hearst’s timber holdings wouldn’t evaporate; without Hearst’s and Anslinger’s influence, the mechanical hemp decorticator had the potential to be one of the most important technological advances since Eli Whitney’s cotton gin in 1794.
Fred Marin says:
November 29, 2022 at 5:46 pm
Great read! I’m a cannabis proponent to the MAX…naturally grown cannabis is a natural herbal medicine…big pharma does not like natural, plain and simple, synthetic is their belief…made in a lab is the motto. When major retailers, e.g., walmart, target, mcdonalds, jackinthebox, etc., start selling Cannabis, synthetic it is, just as most of the food they sell. Government = Control.