The Great Depression was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world that lasted from 1929 to 1939. By 1933, the Depression had reached its lowest point with nearly 15 million Americans out of work and half the country’s banks failing. Even during this difficult time in history, one of the most difficult times in history, marijuana was still available to consume for both recreational and medical purposes.
During the Depression recreational use of marijuana increased as Mexican immigrants flooded the United States. This increase spurred several anti-drug campaigns targeting marijuana because Americans began to fear the psychoactive effects of cannabis. This fear eventually led to marijuana research, which linked the use of marijuana with violence, crime, and other socially poor behaviors, mostly committed by “racially inferior”. While most Americans were struggling to find work, the government was focused on drugs because it created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, an agency made to consolidate the functions of the Federal Narcotics Control Board and the Narcotic Division. Harry J. Anslinger was the first Commissioner of the Bureau, who pushed for harsh penalties for marijuana usage. Marijuana usage became increasingly popular among musicians and artists, especially in Jazz, because many at the time believed that marijuana mind-altering properties were a necessary muse.