Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program

La Guardia Committee

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La Guardia Committee - © Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program

The LaGuardia Committee was the first in-depth study into the effects of smoking cannabis in the United States. An earlier study, the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, was conducted by the colonial authorities in British India in 1893–94. The reports systematically contradicted claims made by the U.S. Treasury Department that smoking marijuana results in insanity, deteriorates physical and mental health, assists in criminal behavior and juvenile delinquency, is physically addictive, and is a “gateway” drug to more dangerous drugs.

The report was prepared by the New York Academy of Medicine, on behalf of a commission appointed in 1939 by New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia who was a strong opponent of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. Released in 1944, the report infuriated Harry Anslinger, who was campaigning against marijuana. Anslinger condemned it as unscientific.

Anslinger went on an offensive against what he saw as a “degenerate Hollywood” that was promoting marijuana use. After high-profile arrests of actors like Robert Mitchum, Hollywood gave Anslinger full control over the script of any film that mentioned marijuana.

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