Once Marijuana Prohibition was written into law, a mass propaganda campaign followed and continued for over a decade to criminalize Marijuana in the public opinion. A key trend of this propaganda was how the substance affected moral decisions and encouraged debauchery.
Commissioner of Narcotics, Henry Anslinger, even targeted a certain group of people who were flagrantly violating the new law. What did these transgressors all have in common?
They had rhythm.
Many of the key geniuses of Jazz–Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway–were also avid Marijuana smokers. Sending a shock wave through the thriving era of early Jazz, Marijuana Prohibition was decisively influenced by the racism and fear-mongering of the time.
These “devil’s weed”-loving musicians didn't just smoke reefers—Marijuana was often disguised in lyrics using many slang terms, such as Jive, Tea, Gage, Reefer, Muggles, and Viper just to name a few.