The cannabis industry could learn a thing or two from Box Brown’s latest graphic novel
Macmillian recently released a new graphic novel by the acclaimed Philadelphia cartoonist Box Brown. Titled “Cannabis: the Illegalization of Weed in America,” the book investigates the history of cannabis around the world, from prehistoric India to the Mexico of conquistadores, focusing on the United States, and the role cannabis prohibition played in this country, including how and why it happened.
The book explores how marijuana’s dicey reputation in Mexico, where it was a social drug that attracted the negative attention of the Catholic church. That reputation was imported to the United States along with cannabis culture.
And it goes into such specific historical details as a study commissioned by iconic New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia to investigate if and how cannabis affected people’s morality.
The non-fiction tome, which attempts to entertain with its engaging visuals as well as historically accurate information also explores how cannabis was used as a tool by the United States government to oppress marginalized people.
“Cannabis: the Illegalization of Weed in America” culminates in the undying efforts of Harry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who made it his life’s mission to demonize and illegalize cannabis and those that used it.
Brown told NPR in an interview, “His efforts to build up cannabis prohibition can't really be overstated. He fought tooth and nail, using all of the levers of power at his disposal, to change public opinion and influence those in high places. He had access to William Randolph Hearst, the most powerful media mogul at the time, and he went on his own little propaganda tour around the country to make sure every state signed on to prohibition. Many, many people who came after him followed his playbook. We're still under his thumb.”
The idea of cannabis as a gateway drug was wholly made up by Anslinger.
Although he explores the entire history of cannabis, Brown wrote this book to prove a point.
He said to NPR, “I wanted to make it clear that marijuana has been completely maligned. We should consider it like aloe, coffee, or any other plant we use to make our lives better. Even when it's legalized, we still punish the plant with exorbitant taxes. This unfair maligning of a plant still goes on today.”
The book is published by Macmillian and available now from booksellers everywhere.