“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 use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

-Harry J Anslinger (Commissioner of Federal Bureau of Narcotics), 1930

Despite a long history of weed being associated with criminality and immorality, white weed moguls are celebrated by today’s media. In the video below, I examine how weed’s links to Mexicans and blacks has traditionally kept it shrouded in negativity.

First, some context!

  1. While “marijuana” was attached to Mexicans in the early 20th century, cannabis had been written about in journals and newspapers for a few years prior to this. Hemp had been produced in America since the 16th century, and was a leading textile by 1890. White Americans were stunned to see Mexicans smoking cannabis, because they had been using it in other ways. Below is an ad for a cannabis medical product in 1908. 
  2. I don’t want to make it seem like weed was demonized PURELY because of race. In fact, weed was being outlawed in Mexico around the same time it was being complained about in America. However, it is obvious that race has played a role in how weed has been perceived by white Americans, which is why I called this video The Racialization of Weed.
  3. Harry J Anslinger knew that he would never secure large amounts of funding for his department by waging a war against cocaine and heroin (both already outlawed in 1914) because they weren’t used by enough people. So he set his eyes on weed, something he could easily get people to hate because they also hated minorities.
  4. This phenomenon isn’t limited to weed or black Americans. For instance, Opium restrictions were originally passed in response to Chinese immigrants.


After watching this video, would it surprise you to know that black and latinx Americans are routinely punished more severely for weed infractions compared to their white peers?

“Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” — Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recently directed all prosecutors to punish weed offenses to the fullest extent of the law


The Mysterious History of Marijuana (Matt Thompson) 

The Racist Roots of Marijuana Prohibition (David McDonald)

The man behind the marijuana ban for all the wrong reasons (Cydney Adams) 

Blunt Talk: The Racist Origins of Pot Prohibition (Amanda Chicago Lewis)

How Black Americans Are Being Shut Out of America’s Weed Boom (Amanda Chicago Lewis)

Marijuana Prohibition in California: Racial Prejudice and Selective-Arrests (Kenneth Michael White and Mirya R. Holman)