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Marihuana: Weed With Roots In Hell
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Marihuana: Weed With Roots In Hell

Details
Marihuana: Weed With Roots In Hell
1935, U.S. one-sheet -- 41x27in. (104x69cm.), linen-backed, (A-)
Literature
T. Nourmand & G. Marsh Op. cit, 2005, p.81 (illus.)
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Lot Essay

In 1932, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established under the direction of Harry J. Anslinger. He proceeded to stir the public into an anti-marijuana frenzy, perpetuating the myth that users of the drug had embarked upon an irreversible descent into an underworld of crime and loose living. In his lectures Anslinger explained that marijuana use was the root cause of crime and unemployment in poor areas; for good measure, he also blamed the immigrant and working-class population for introducing the drug into these neighbourhoods. No evidence was produced to support such claims, yet this did not stop Anslinger's ideas from attaining the status of revealed truth. In the mid-1930's, the American Journal Of Medicine pronounced that "Marijuana users...will kill or maim without reason." The only significant challenge to such wild statements was made by the mayor of New York, who ordered an independent and impartial investigation into the effects of the 'weed with roots in hell'. When it became clear that the investigators had concluded that marijuana had none of the alleged mind-altering and crime-causing effects, Anslinger quickly destroyed all known copies of the report, preventing its publication.
Exploitation filmmakers have always been quick to seize upon contemporary scandals and scare stories, and the 1930's saw a massive upsurge of films dealing with the 'tragedy' of marijuana. Marihuana: Weed With Roots In Hell, is a perfect example of the sensationalist and absurd propaganda produced in the effort to stop people using the drug.
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