Throughout the internet there are those among us who try to bolster the case for marijuana legalization by quoting the Founding Fathers. While it is true that many of our founders were colonial farmers who grew hemp among their crops, the evidence for use of cannabis for smoking like it is used today is scant. Hashish was known, of course, and Jefferson and Franklin, among others, were known to visit Europe and partake in the party scene of the day. Later 19th century presidents like Madison and Monroe admitted smoking hemp or hashish, while Jackson, Taylor, and Pierce were known to have smoked Mexican marihuana while fighting alongside their troops in the Southwest.
There are plenty of legitimate quotes from our Founding Fathers on the resourcefulness of hemp and perhaps evidence they had smoked it. George Washington wrote “Make the most of the Indian Hemp Seed and sow it everywhere!” He also remarked about “The artificial preparation of hemp, from Silesia, is really a curiosity,” which could be about hashish from an area now in Poland. He famously “…began to separate the male from the female (hemp) plants,” which may have been done to get females for smoking. John Adams wrote, “We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption.” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.”
But the following three quotes have been debunked so thoroughly that it destroys the credibility of any pro-pot reformer who still uses them. So potheads, please stop using them!
FAKE: “Some of my finest hours have been spent sitting on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.” – Thomas Jefferson
I first saw this one appear on a title card of the DVD Totally Baked. So I went to find the attribution for it, because Jefferson is one of the most prolific of the Founders and his every letter and essay and book has been archived and studied and cataloged. Yet this “veranda” quote is nowhere to be found (http://rad-r.us/TJveranda).
FAKE: “Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica.” – Abraham Lincoln
This Honest Abe quote claims to be from a letter dated 1855 found at the German harmonica manufacturer’s museum. That means Abe Lincoln or Hohner had a time machine, because Hohner didn’t ship harmonicas from Germany to the United States until 1857. Plus, the Hohner Museum had no record of any such letter (http://rad-r.us/ALhohner).
FAKE: “Prohibition… goes beyond the bound of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded” – Abraham Lincoln
This was a fabrication created by the former Mayor of Atlanta in 1922 during the campaigns for and against alcohol prohibition in Georgia. The Mayor, campaigning for the “wets” (drinkers), faked the quote to win the black vote (http://rad-r.us/ALprohib).