Published by First Second Books 2019 | Review by Paul D Houston
Cannabis, marijuana, weed, pot, Mary Jane, forget about what you've heard, I beg you to open your mind and let artist/author Box Brown inform you, tell you, show you, the real story of how Marijuana became public enemy #1 in America and most of the world.
Box Brown is one of my favorite storytellers. I will read everything he does. He's proven to me time and again, he should be considered among the best cartoonists of this modern age. His book "An Entity Observes All Things" transfixed me in such a way, it was almost transformative. Maybe I am exaggerating, I mean, I felt the same way with Virginia Woolf's "Orlando" or Brian Eno's "Music for Airports", life goes on, but nonetheless I know, as long as Box Brown makes comics, I will be a fan.
Now, I was surprised that he went straight documentary with his latest work, and that it was about Marijuana, nonetheless, but he did his homework and turned out an amazing read. Most of America has been saturated with the myths of Marijuana. Its only in the last 20 or so years, that we've been able to dispel those myths. I live in the state that was first to legalize recreational Marijuana - Colorado. It's legal here, we all know it's not "evil", thousands of people are getting rich off selling it, yet there is still, even here, a minority that pushes the myths of it's harmful nature. Even though, its commonly accepted, scientifically proven again and again, that it's less harmful than alcohol, that it's actually beneficial as a counter agent to certain illnesses and diseases, blah-blah-blah, we still have a very vocal minority that pushes the myths of this "Devil-weed".
This book by Box Brown is especially helpful and that it pinpoints the exact villain(s) when it comes to the criminalization of marijuana. Harry J. Anslinger is the man behind the beginning of the criminalization of Marijuana. He is a villain, a racist and the worst kind of human being. But his villiany was effective. He was persuasive, he was thorough and he was active. And this was enough to convince some of the stupider people in power, in America.
The criminalization of Marijuana was in effect an attack on minorities in America, Blacks and Latino's to be exact. When Marijuana began to become popular amongst white youth, thats when it became a problem. To combat the situation, the white men in power blamed the minorities and made up dozens of superstitious tales of violence, insanity and nonsense to support their claims. Preying upon the white people in power, with their racism and stupidity, marijuana became illegal, even though, actual scienctific studies of the time, dismissed these myths again and again, the illegalization took hold in America.
The thing I like about Box Brown's work, is that it's largely straightforward and basically simple. It's like a map, start here, end up here. It's easy to read, it's full of depth and wonder, but there is no question about it's intention. I highly recommend this book from a variety of reasons. The quality of craftsmanship to the poignant nature of its subject matter. Read this book!
Find it here https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250154088