Episode 08: Alexandra Chasin, on her biography of America's first drug czar Harry J. Anslinger, who coined the term 'marijuana'
Alexandra Chasin is an associate professor at The New School. Her new book Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger's War on Drugs is a biography of America's first drug czar who popularized the term 'marijuana' and ushered in the Reefer Madness period of drug prohibition. A master propagandist prone to demonizing ethnic and immigrant groups, Anslinger's ideas laid the foundation for the modern drug war and brought awareness of cannabis to the American masses.
Alexandra and I talked about the Harrison Act, how America was scandalized by wild 'marijuana parties,' and the analogues between coming out as queer and coming out as a stoner.