Letters: Wild and outlandish claims

Marijuana prohibition debate continues to draw responses

Although there was no evidence of a problem of marijuana use in Canada in 1923, its inclusion in the Opium and Drug Act may have been influenced by the writings of Emily Murphy, a crusading Edmonton, Alberta magistrate. In 1920 she published a series of sensational and racist articles in McLean’s magazine on the horrible effects of drug use and the deliberate debauching of the young by evil, often alien, traffickers.

The articles were later expanded into a book, The Black Candle, published in 1922. Her views on marijuana were derived mainly from correspondence with U.S. enforcement officials.

She quotes, for example, the Chief of Los Angeles Police Department:  “Persons using this narcotic (marihuana) smoke the dried leaves of the plant, which has the effect of driving them completely insane. The addict loses all sense of moral responsibility. Addicts to this drug, while under its   influence, are immune to pain, and could be injured without having any realization of their condition.

“While in this condition they become raving maniacs and are liable to kill or indulge in any form of violence to other persons, using the most savage methods of cruelty without, as said before, any sense of moral responsibility… If this drug is indulged in to any great extent, it ends in the untimely death of its addict.”

There was absolutely no truth to any of those wild and outlandish claims. It was in this climate of irrational fear that the criminal sanctions against marijuana were enacted.

And see who is continuing this ongoing propoganda… Cpl. Scott Hilderley.

Do you see the connection? Wake up and smell the flowers!

Michael D. Ethier

Cache Bay, Ont.

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