Cannabis Time Capsule, 1914: Anti-pot fears used to sell Coloradans on Mexican war
We've run a few articles about pot and soldiers so far in Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule, and most have the same theme: Marijuana makes you crazy and unfit for duty.
But this 1914 article from the Akron Weekly Pioneer Press brings the anti-Hispanic, racial undertones of the early anti-marijuana movement to the foreground in an attempt to sell a war to Americans in general and Coloradans in specific.
The piece specifically links "crazy" marijuana with Mexico, which was becoming our military enemy (again) at this time due to a ridiculous incident near Vera Cruz, Mexico that eventually escalated our involvement in the Mexican Revolution.
"One of the things to be avoided by the American soldier in Mexico is the seductive marihuana weed, which grows around Vera Cruz and the territory lying between that city and the capital," the article warns the American public.
Not only does the enemy hate us, they have a crazy plant that makes you insane!
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"People who become addicted to smoking marihuana finally lose the minds and never recover," the author professes.
Despite a ban by the Mexican army, the article says, the plant is used regularly by the troops, who dry the leaves and smoke them until they go nuts. And our American boys are down there fighting these crazed men! Oh no!
And "marihuana" isn't the only strange and dangerous plant in Mexico, friends. There's also something the article calls "lovache." They say it is "a kind of loco weed". Apparently Mexicans boiled the seeds and drank the water and it made you insane for life! (Editor's note: We researched "lovache" but weren't able to find any explanation for what it was/is. The reference and/or the spelling are probably inaccurate: Could it be describing peyote?). The loco-weed drink was rumored to have caused Empress Carlota of Mexico to go mad!
(She more likely was unstable due to massive inbreeding within royal families at the time, but whatever).
ANYWAY...all of this makes sense when you realize that the American public had to be sold on this stupid little skirmish with our neighbor to the south and, in greater context, the United States needed to protect it's relationships with the reigning Mexican government -- which was quickly being eaten up in the Mexican Revolution.
Basically, some American soldiers were caught stealing or borrowing some fuel for American ships (depending on which side you believe) from an allied Mexican naval yard in Tampico, Mexico. In the end, they were held up for a few days until the U.S. commander in the area demanded their release, an apology from the president and a 21-gun salute.
He got the first two, but not his salute -- which pissed him off enough to ask (and receive) permission from President Woodrow Wilson to bomb the shit out of Veracruz -- an action that eventually increased our involvement in Mexico's war.
The U.S. occupation of Veracruz
So making Mexicans sound like insane people who smoke crazy weeds and drink seeds that drive them over the edge was about all they had left to pitch this shit to people back home.
As usual, it's not too far off from the way things work today in places like Afghanistan, where we were constantly reminded that their poppies fuel the economy and a worldwide heroin trade.
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