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Magazine article Assassin of Youth
Magazine article Assassin of Youth
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Assassin of Youth

This 1937 magazine article, written by US Federal Bureau of Narcotics chief Harry Anslinger, is a classic example of ‘Reefer Madness’-era propaganda.

Many of the images on the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum website are available for reproduction. Please contact us for more information.

In 1937, Harry Anslinger co-authored an article entitled ‘Marijuana, Assassin of Youth’ (pictured above), which was published in The American Magazine. Anslinger was the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics at the time and this article provided the impetus for the Marihuana Tax Act, which was passed later that year. The Act effectively made cannabis and hemp illegal throughout the US. This followed Anslinger’s testimony before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, telling Congressmen that cannabis “incites the user to crime”, along with multiple reports of it provoking violence.

Anslinger’s propaganda article was not an isolated event, as the era was riddled with anti-cannabis hysteria. A year prior, the 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness was released, the plot of which centred around teenagers who consume cannabis and then commit a multitude of crimes, including murder, manslaughter and attempted rape. According to Johann Hari in his book ‘Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs’, Anslinger silenced doctors who argued for a more compassionate approach towards addicts.

Congress passing the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 set a precedent for decades of prohibition, leading to Richard Nixon announcing America’s infamous War on Drugs, and culminating in the Reagan Administration passing the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986.

A copy of this issue of The American Magazine is in the Museum collection, and these pages are on display in our Amsterdam venue.

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