The Politics of Marijuana: Truth Regimes and Institutional Ignorance

9 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2020

Date Written: January 28, 2020


During the 20th century, Harry Anslinger (1892-1975) waged one of the most successful disinformation campaigns in US history. Anslinger served from 1930-1962 as the founding commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. When Anslinger launched his anti-cannabis crusade in the 1930s most people viewed cannabis as a harmless weed. Far from viewing cannabis as a danger, many communities celebrated hemp as their economic lifeblood. It was, therefore, a tall order for Harry Anslinger to turn the tide of public opinion against such a well-loved plant, but Anslinger proved more than equal to the task. To bring about the necessary shift in public opinion, Harry Anslinger would have to construct an alternate reality wherein cannabis morphed from a harmless weed into the most dangerous drug known to humanity. Thus, Anslinger concocted his “Reefer Madness” truth regime.

Keywords: marijuana, pot, truth, politics, weed, cannabis, reefer, madness, Anslinger

Suggested Citation

McGettigan, Timothy, The Politics of Marijuana: Truth Regimes and Institutional Ignorance (January 28, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Timothy McGettigan (Contact Author)

Colorado State University - Pueblo ( email )

Department of Sociology
2200 Bonforte Blvd
Pueblo, CO 81001
United States
7195492416 (Phone)
7195492705 (Fax)


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