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Ann Coulter Claims Pot ‘Makes People Retarded’

Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Far-right pundit Ann Coulter unleashed typical bombast in her latest tirade against cannabis legalization—and threw in some very unsubtle racism. 

Newsweek noted the verbal irruption at the nonpartisan forum Politicon last weekend, where Coulter was debating (to use a flattering term) cannabis advocate Ana Kasparian.

When asked about the wave of state legalization initiatives, Coulter replied: “No. You can legalize all the drugs you want once there isn’t a welfare state, but no. Marijuana makes people retarded, especially when they’re young. We’ve got enough busboys. We’re bringing in busboys by the million through our immigration policy. We do not need a country of busboys. We’re destroying the country.”

Do we have to unpack that for you?

We can’t legalize until the New Deal safety net has been completely dismantled—then, it’ll be OK because under Social Darwinist principles, the druggies will be left to their fates of misery and poverty, which serves them right. But as long as we coddle the underclass, we have to lock you up for undermining the American work ethic with your degeneracy.

If you use the stuff, you are a useless eater (“retarded”) or a low-wage immigrant from a Third World nation (“busboy”). And, as we all know, that’s who is destroying the country.

But that’s not all.

After Kasparian noted the racial disparity in marijuana busts, Coulter attempted to portray blacks as bigger users of the stuff—against all evidence. Coulter invoked a supposed study that she said found African Americans disproportionately lie about their cannabis use: “There have been further studies where they actually drug test the person after asking ‘Do you smoke pot, or have you smoked pot in the last week?’ and it turns out there’s a racial difference in telling the truth on ‘Did you smoke pot?’ Blacks were about 10 times more likely to lie and say they hadn’t smoked pot.”

Except she was unable to cite the study’s name, where it had been published or any other information regarding the supposed researchers.

She unconvincingly told the moderator, journalist and author Touré, that she would e-mail it to him. No word on how that went, but Newsweek noted a different study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health in 2008, which found that more people (regardless of race) self-reported cannabis use than those who actually tested positive for pot after a hair-strand drug test. In other words, the fibbing seems to go the other way!

Coulter’s ugly balderdash will sound familiar to anyone up to speed on the racist history of cannabis prohibition. It is just an updated version of that successfully employed by Narcotics Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger in his 1930s campaign to outlaw the herb. 

The most famous quote attributed to Anslinger, certainly typical of the rhetoric of the day, goes: “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

Although it has entered popular folklore as emblematic of the “Reefer Madness” era, the exact origin of that quote is in dispute, with some sources considering it apocryphal.

The book Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics by Rudolph Joseph Gerber attributes it to Anslinger’s 1937 congressional testimony in support of the Marihuana Tax Act (the first federal law essentially banning the stuff). Some other sources suggest the quote was from an Anslinger-inspired editorial in a Hearst newspaper.

The transcript of Anslinger’s 1937 congressional testimony is online at the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy and does not include that exact quote. But it does contain some other gems of naked racism. 

In one statement, Anslinger warned that Mexican immigrants were selling joints to “white high school students” and luridly added: “I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents. That’s why our problem is so great; the greatest percentage of our [pot-smoking] population is composed of Spanish-speaking persons, most of who are low mentally, because of social and racial conditions.” 

Sound familiar, Ann?

Yet another one to file under “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” To which we can add—and the more they stay the same, the more they stink.

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