When last we joined our Pot History 101 class, we discussed the discovery of cannabinoids, Oregon’s trailblazing decriminalization of marijuana, and California’s medical marijuana utopia. This time around we revisit the landmark 1889 breakthrough that proved marijuana’s effectiveness is treating opium addictions, how the propaganda film Reefer Madness went from teen scare flick to campy cult classic and where the DEA’s official grower is located—oh yeah, they have an official grower.
It was in 1889, that a groundbreaking article was published in The Lancet, then the world’s leading medical journal, describing how cannabis enabled addicts to comfortably withdraw from opiates or chloral hydrate with remarkably reduced symptoms: weed reportedly “…reduced the opium craving and acted as an anti-emetic, effective against vomiting and nausea…” Cannabis would for many years after this article was published, be used to successfully treat patients with opium addictions.
When the film Reefer Madness was released, it was called “Tell Your Children” and was intended to be a scare tactic, encouraging parents to steer their children away from the horrors of marijuana. Produced by a small church group, the film was quickly bought by exploitation film director, Dwain Esper who added a handful of suggestive scenes and slapped the improved title of Reefer Madness on the film before sending it off on the exploitation circuit. One wonders how that little church group felt about the legacy left by this film.
The University of Mississippi still houses today the DEA’s primary marijuana research facility. The vast majority of cannabis used for testing and research is grown within the walls of U of M, in vast grow rooms that would make any pro grower weep with envy.
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