Marijuana prohibition had nothing to do with smoking it

It had everything to do with the king of yellow journalism newspapers not wanting competition for his yellow paper and the king of the new plastics not wanting competition with them: competition from hemp.

Kathleen Murphy wrote for the Washington Free Press 3 June 2009 about How Marijuana Became Illegal,

As the methods for processing hemp into paper and plastics were becoming more readily available and affordable, business leaders including William Randolph Hearst and DuPont stood to lose fortunes. They did everything in their power to have it outlawed. Luckily for Hearst, he was the owner of a chain of newspapers. DuPont’s chief financial backer Andrew Mellon (also the Secretary of the Treasury during President Hoover) was responsible for appointing Harry J. Anslinger, in 1931 as the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Anslinger and Hearst made up whatever propaganda they thought might scare the public into supporting prohibiting hemp:
Hearst’s papers deplorably published enhanced accounts of marijuana-crazed black men raping white women. With these sensationalist newspaper stories as his support, Anslinger testified before Congress that, “Marijuana is the most violence causing drug in the history of mankind.”

Anslinger completely contradicted himself later—before Congress again in 1948—when he testified that marijuana caused its users to become peaceful and pacifist, and that Communists would use marijuana to weaken America’s will to fight.

Racism, communism, whatever was available for their propaganda: they used it.

Oh, yeah, and change the name to confuse the real experts:

A very interesting piece of that history is that only two days before the 1937 marijuana hearings, the American Medical Association (AMA) had just realized that the plant that Congress intended to outlaw was known medically as cannabis, which from 1850 to 1937 had been recorded as being the prime medicine for more than 100 different types of illnesses or diseases in the US pharmacopoeia. Dr James Woodward, who besides being a physician was also an attorney, testified that there wasn’t any real evidence being used to justify the new law and that the whole reason the AMA hadn’t come out against the law sooner was that “marijuana,” the new name given to cannabis by Hearst papers, was always described as a “killer weed from Mexico.”
Now cannabis and other drugs are being kept illegal to feed the prison-industrial complex, including CCA, which admits in its 2010 report to the SEC that legalization or even sentence reform would adversely affect its profits. We don’t need a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia. Spend those tax dollars on rehabilitation and education instead.