Hemp Disconnected, A Psychological War for American Dependence

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Hemp Disconnected

New Movie by Myles Moscato and John Hardin

Today, you might take a cannabis CBD supplement, wash it down with a hemp milk smoothie, dab the corners of your mouth with a hemp napkin, wash your hands with hemp soap, put on your hemp jacket, and if you are Jay Leno, drive your hemp car to work, but in 1990, no one had any of this stuff, and hardly anyone knew it was even possible. Instead, the Federal Government had a “zero tolerance” policy about cannabis, spent billions of dollars to eradicate it here in the US and around the world, and spent billions more on a propaganda campaign to villainize “marijuana” in the minds of America’s children. Hemp Disconnected, A Psychological War for American Dependence documents the story of how Americans found out the truth about marijuana prohibition, and how that truth set us free, …sort of.

The War on Drugs was a real war, a real, modern psychological war, an information war fought with TVs, movie projectors, and newspapers, backed up with cops courts and prisons. This new form of warfare was born in WWI and pioneered by Edward Bernays, among others, and it has largely shaped the course of history ever since. This new form of psychological warfare gave rise to totalitarian regimes in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, but here in the US, it gave us the War on Drugs, and at the heart of the War on Drugs, was Marijuana Prohibition.

Marijuana never killed anyone, scientists are hard pressed to find any harmful effects of using it, but that didn’t stop the propaganda campaign to vilify it so ubiquitously that every child in America knew that thousands of their peers loved smoking marijuana so much that they were willing to risk going to jail for it, and parents thought that was a real problem. Hemp Disconnected, A Psychological War for American Dependence examines the War on Drugs as a Psyop, an intentional disinformation campaign designed to manipulate behavior and manufacture consent for a war against America’s own children and young people. It tells the story of how a few dedicated activists uncovered the long forgotten truth about hemp, changed the way Americans thought about marijuana, and changed the laws that kept it from the people for so many years.

Hemp Disconnected, A Psychological War for American Dependence, Writer’s Perspective

Hemp Disconnected, A Psychological War for American Dependence examines marijuana prohibition as a psychological war against the American people. In it we meet the people who broke the spell of an unprecedented 50 year propaganda campaign by uncovering the long forgotten truth about hemp, and spreading that truth far and wide, despite police harassment, social pressure, and economic coercion. 

Marijuana never hurt anyone. It never killed anyone. So far as I know cannabis has never even caused a debilitating injury, ever, in the history of mankind. Yet in 1937, congress voted unanimously to outlaw it. The 1938 propaganda film, “Tell Your Children”(later re-released as “Reefer Madness”) declared marijuana “Public Enemy Number One,” and 30 years later President Richard Nixon echoed those words precisely. Why? 

Millions of Americans, mostly young people, endured arrest, incarceration, expulsion from school, job discrimination, and social censure for using marijuana. Hundreds of thousands of Americans died in black-market violence over marijuana, and prohibition funneled billions of dollars into shadowy organized crime networks. This was all predictable, and by design.

The War on Drugs was a real war, but it was a new kind of war. The War on Drugs was a modern psychological war in which propaganda was used to engineer consent for invasive surveillance, targeted violence, and mass incarceration of our own children. One has to wonder, as so many have pondered about Nazi Germany, or Stalinist Russia: “How could people let this happen?”

I don’t speak German or Russian, and don’t know much about the European cultural milieu in the early 20th Century, but I survived the War on Drugs. I saw how a massive, ubiquitous, propaganda campaign turned people against each other and silenced dissent. I saw lives ruined, families destroyed and fortunes lost, essentially all of the human consequences of war, without the bombs, tanks and warplanes, and without destroying corporate infrastructure. 

The War on Drugs was an assault led by TVs, newspapers, and movie projectors, and backed-up by cops, courts, and prisons. It was the kind of war that killed and injured people without hurting business or destroying property, and it worked remarkably well. The War on Drugs provides an excellent example of what a modern psychological war looks and feels like, that Americans remember, because they experienced it first-hand.

I remember the War on Drugs. I grew up in the golden age of anti-drug propaganda. I watched it evolve from the authoritarian fear-porn of the ‘50s and ‘60s, to the psychological / sociological mumbo-jumbo of the ‘70s to the no-holds-barred full-court press of the Partnership for a Drug Free America, DARE, and the Parents Music Resource Center in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

I participated in that information war. I wrote so many Letters to the Editor, about their distorted coverage of the War on Drugs, that the Lincoln Journal Star eventually invited me to write a guest editorial, about how hemp would help Nebraska’s economy, and paid me $20 for it. That was my first writing job.

I moved to Boston in 1990, and helped found Mass Cann, The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition. I started, and edited their newsletter, Mass Grass, and we organized the first Boston Cannabis Freedom Rally in 1990. I attended all of the major legalization rallies around the country that year, including High Times Freedom Fighters Camp in Ann Arbor MI, and the NORML National Conference in Washington DC. I met, and got to know, the people in the struggle to legalize cannabis at a time when the movement was just starting to catch fire.

The history of the War on Drugs is my history. Part of that history still lives here in Southern Humboldt County CA. The whole community was thrust into the War on Drugs in 1990 when then President GHW Bush sent 200 National Guard, along with 60 regular Army troops here to eradicate marijuana in Operation Greensweep. That same year Marie Mills opened The Hemp Connection, the first hemp business in America since prohibition. Her hemp clothing boutique in Garberville, CA played an important role in changing the minds of the American people.

When I found out that The Hemp Connection was closing permanently, I knew I had to do something to preserve that history. I asked my friend Myles Moscato if he would be interested in making some kind of documentary about it. That was almost three years ago. 

In Hemp Disconnected, A Psychological War for American Dependence, I endeavor to tell the story of Marie Mills and The Hemp Connection within the context of the War on Drugs. That allowed me to examine the War on Drugs, objectively, through the lens of time, and from the perspective of the people who fought to end it. 

Making Hemp Disconnected, A Psychological War for American Dependence also gave me the opportunity to meet and talk with some of my personal heroes of the War on Drugs, like Debby Goldsberry and Ed Rosenthal, and to revisit the memory of others, like Jack Herer and Dr Tod Mikuria, who are no longer with us, and to reflect on what actually happened in the War on Drugs. 

In fact, it is a remarkable story. A handful of Yippies, stoners, sick people, and their doctors overcame a multi-billion dollar propaganda campaign to change the way Americans see and think about cannabis. It took more than 50 years to do it, and police and politicians did everything in their power to stop them, but in the end, they prevailed, and cannabis prohibition crumbled before them. It is a big story, but it is also a long story, because it was a long war. I hope we’ve told it well in Hemp Disconnected, A Psychological War for American Dependence. 

Hemp Disconnected, A Psychological War for American Dependence – On the Ground in Southern Humboldt County

The Hemp Connection, a hemp clothing boutique in Garberville, CA was the very first hemp business in America since marijuana prohibition began in 1937. Established in 1990, the Hemp Connection opened for business the same year that then President GHW Bush sent 260 Army and National Guard troops to eradicate marijuana in that very community. The Hemp Connection’s proprietor, Marie Mills remembers “Operation Greensweep” as it was called, because she confronted those soldiers, unarmed, as a member of the local grassroots resistance organization The Civil Liberties Monitoring Project to defend the rights of the people in her community. At that moment she was quite literally on the front-line of the War on Drugs, and through her store, became a standard bearer for the cannabis legalization movement. 

Hemp Disconnected, A Psychological War for American Dependence tells the story of the War on Drugs, as an example of psychological warfare, from the perspective of this small rural California community. The movie focuses on the people who fought this information war, despite the overwhelming propaganda campaign to vilify marijuana, and police intimidation designed to silence dissent.

Watch The Movie on HotBox Films

Watch The Movie on Amazon

For more information: John Hardin tincanluminary@yahoo.com

                             Myles Moscato mylesmoscato@gmail.com

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