The 1930’s Jazz Scene and Why Cannabis was Termed, Gage

The inception of cannabis in the music scene has been in existence for decades past even before the legalization in some states in the US. This of course for medical and or recreational uses. While the drug wasn’t as popular and seen on the shelves of most dispensaries like we have today, Cannabis tinctures were widely available in pharmacies. With that said, very few persons were interested in consuming; takes less of achieving a high with the tinctures.

Mexicans: The Foreign Influence

While jazz was grabbing all headlines in the US around the 1930s, cannabis was relatively an unknown quantity. The reverse was the case, as foreign influence became the owner of the day. Migrants from neighboring Mexico were rolling joints for fun and sharing the cannabis high. This created an avenue for people of color in the music scene especially those in the jazz subculture to catch the cannabis cold. At the time, it was the best way to relax, unwind, also travel to space, and back without a space ship.

The Harry Anslinger Effect

The first commissioner of the US Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics who was almost without a job in the 1930s. This was after the strict rules governing alcohol was abolished as he looked destined to be without a job. With that insight and Anslinger destined to be without a job for the next three years, behold, cannabis came into his crosshairs.

Being a racist by nature meant the dealers in the cannabis trade who were predominantly blacks became targets. As such, they (black dealers) weren’t considered as humans but criminals and could be treated in whatever way he deemed necessary. His hatred for blacks was evident in one of his quotes which states “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men”.

Gage: The Name

Amongst his many quotes, Anslinger said, cannabis is the world’s most violence-causing drug. To him when you talk of cannabis you mean those who use the drug (smokers mostly). Most of whom were Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. In addition, Anslinger believed getting inspiration from cannabis as it was back in the days by jazz singers was satanic and shouldn’t be appreciated.

Although the name gage isn’t as popular as we’d like or would have wished for it to be so, one thing remains certain. Cannabis isn’t satanic and has never been, although Anslinger intended for it to be so. His perception of cannabis is contrary to what the world is experiencing now.

Cannabis for a Change

This is evident as many states are rushing to legalize the drug for its medicinal potencies and attributes. Forget the thought of Anslinger, for cannabis, is changing the world and making it a better place. Guided by strict rules, laws, and policies, on its uses to curb abuse. If not for people like Anslinger our beloved cannabis would still be called “gage”.

A name (gage) designed to pay homage to the legends and creator of Jazz music and the cannabis culture, rather than a man who sees nothing but negativity in the midst of mind-blowing music and cannabis.

Final Note

The increase in demand, for gage by jazz musicians at the time was hugely significant. Amidst the varied uses and potencies of the cannabis plant (gage), one thing remains, although it’s considered a legend, this only demonstrates the fact that, cannabis taps into the creative minds of some musicians. Not just for jazz but also hip-hop, RnB, and of course Rock n Roll.