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Fri May 23, 2014, 10:57 PM

Prettyman Commission (1963)

Harry Ansligner found a friend in Eisenhower, who, in the spirit of the age, viewed marijuana use as akin to opium or heroin and saw all of them as part of the Communist Menace...because the reality was that Anslinger found any excuse he could on which to hang his hatred.

Anslinger started out talking about cannabis making people go crazy and kill. Then he decided it made white women associate with black men because of evil jazz music. Then it was unAmerican to smoke marijuana, even though its use, after black and white musicians first desegregated their profession, was often associated with soldiers returning from war, especially those stationed in the Philippines.

The Boggs Commission, put together in the 1950s, was used in the south to execute black men for possession of marijuana. Think of that. Execution for possession of a substance safer than alcohol or cigarettes. Of course, in the south someone can still be sentenced to life in prison for three possession convictions. Some things don't change, they just change their form.

After Eisenhower, Kennedy had other opinions.

Anslinger retired in 1961. Some "rumors" note that Kennedy forced this retirement. As far as I know, this has never been confirmed. Another rumor was that JFK used marijuana to help ease his back pain.

One of his mistresses, Mary Pinchot Meyer, claimed she turned him on to LSD, and others who knew her at the time (Timothy Leary, for instance) said she regularly brought marijuana to Kennedy when they were together. Prior to her affair, she was married to Cord Meyer, of the CIA. Mary was the daughter of the left. Her parents were both journalists. One, also a lawyer, helped to start The New Masses. The other wrote for The Nation, among other publications.

McCarthy accused Cord Meyer of being a communist (...but who wasn't, according to McCarthy), and the FBI had a file on Mary because of her work for nuclear disarmament. Cord was involved in Operation Mockingbird, the CIA attempt to use the media as a propaganda tool (they didn't have Fox back then), and some claimed he had been spying on liberal American organizations since the 1940s. Richard Helms informed Cord that McCarthy had made accusations of communism against him... After Mary divorced Cord, she chose not to remarry and instead focused on her art. She was considered a "daredevil" because she didn't conform to the conventions of the day.

Anyway, Kennedy established a Drug Commission to look at the issue of marijuana and other drugs. LaGuardia had already done his own studies with doctors in the 1940s and had come to the conclusion that marijuana was not a dangerous substance. An American sociologist, Lindeman, had conducted studies in the 1950s and done work for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that emphasized drug abuse, in general, was a medical and psychological problem, not a criminal one (and Anslinger came after him with the FBI, and tried to destroy the man and his work.)

The Prettyman Commission isn't well known.

After an eight-week fact finding commission was done, Prettyman, in 1963, wrote a report that said marijuana was relatively harmless, that penalties against it were too harsh (this was after the Boggs Commission made marijuana possession a crime worse than rape or murder), and the nation should rethink its attitude toward the herb.

Allen Ginsberg was appearing on television talk shows - and he always talked about legalizing marijuana at that time. Anslinger hated Ginsberg, of course (and spied on him, as Anslinger did with all jazz musicians of the 1940s and 1950s - and arrested them whenever possible - even on trumped up charges - see Monk, Thelonious.)

Then Kennedy was assassinated. Mary Meyer contacted Leary, in fear of her life, too, because, she said, Kennedy was changing and changing things in this nation (and she saw herself as part of that with the LSD sessions). She was shot at point blank range in the back of the head in 1964 while out for a walk. A black man with no weapon was charged with her murder. Case closed.

The only Democrats to oppose liberalization of marijuana laws since Kennedy have been from the south - but one man from the south, Carter, tried to open the door to this discussion. The sort of Democrat who heads the party matters, in other words. Hopefully Obama and current Democrats will be able to end this shameful legacy of lies regarding marijuana in the U.S., which will reverberate around the world.

Just rambling, but I'm looking up information about the Prettyman Commission and thought I'd share. If anyone here has information about it, please post.

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RainDog May 2014 OP
RainDog May 2014 #1

Response to RainDog (Original post)

Fri May 23, 2014, 11:46 PM

1. another interesting moment from that time

Allen Ginsberg noted that he was targeted because he spoke out about marijuana reform. A friend of his was arrested and the FBN (Fed. Bureau of Narcotics) offered a deal to the friend if they could get Ginsberg.

He was strip searched when he returned to the U.S. from speaking engagements abroad, and, he noted, they used magnifying glasses to examine the lint in his pockets to find evidence of marijuana.

He wrote to his congressman and told him he was afraid the govt. was looking for a way to find charges to put him in jail... for speaking about the relative harmlessness of marijuana.

When he was in New Jersey, he gave a speech that mentioned he had smoked marijuana while there. The mayor of the city where he spoke charged Ginsberg and arrested him but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence.

In response, Ginsberg published this: http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/66nov/hoax.htm

"The Great Marijuana Hoax."

This nation has never been about freedom; all words attesting to the same are smoke and mirrors for jingoists.

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