Grass Roots

By: Walter Kelly

You smoke weed? You degenerate. Well, that is, if you smoke it in America, say, anytime after 1937. Before that, not such a big deal. That year America’s first drug czar, one Harry J. Anslinger, cleared up all confusion about the devil weed, “You smoke a joint, you’re likely to kill your brother,” he said, adding, “reefer makes darkies think their as good as white men.” (ROL – how good is that, Harry?) “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races,” he ranted, and so, cannabis became a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, like heroin and cocaine.

Feeling degenerate? It wasn’t always this way.

Queen Victoria ranks among the stuffiest of cannabis users. “I don’t dislike babies, though I think very young ones rather disgusting.” Of an afternoon, Her Majesty might dip a little cannabis tincture for “medical purposes,” don’t you know. Considering her empire stretched from India to Hawaii, that was probably some fine tinc. It’s good to be queen. Gives new meaning to the term “Her Royal Highness.”

George Washington, in his later years, grew. Well, his plants were more hemp than high, but he did “separate the male from the female.” Mmhm. Did George, after fathering the country, have a High Place there at Mt. Vernon where he and Martha might smoke the occasional rope? You decide – grab a dollar bill and look deep into George’s gorgeous green eyes. Remember, he could use his teeth as a roach clip.

Shakespeare himself wrote: “Why with the time do I not glance aside, To new-found methods and to compounds strange? Why write I still all one, ever the same, and keep invention in a noted weed.” OK, if you’ve ever tried to write a college paper while high, you know the bard was probably NOT blasting bong hits while hacking out Hamlet in iambic pentameter. But, it was there. Cannabis was there, in London, at the time. Ever been to a post-production party at a theater?

That’s the point. Cannabis pre-dates written history. It’s always been here, and until 1937, by and large, it was no big deal.