In 1938 the word ‘marijuana’ was introduced to Australia by the US Bureau of Narcotics via the Diggers’ newspaper, Smith’s Weekly. Marijuana was said to be ‘a new drug that maddens victims’ and an ‘evil sex drug’. The resulting furore saw the plant cannabis sativa banned in Australia.
In 1964, a massive infestation of wild cannabis was found growing along a stretch of the Hunter River between Singleton and Maitland in New South Wales. The explosion in Australian marijuana use began there. It was fueled after 1967 by US soldiers on rest and recreation leave from Vietnam.
It was the Baby-Boomer young who were turning on and the ‘War on Drugs’ in Australia began with paramilitary attacks on the hippie colonies at Cedar Bay and Tuntable Falls. The attack on pot users served as code for an attack on the young, the Left, and the alternative.
As the subtitle suggests, Marijuana Australiana relies significantly on alternative sources, and it trawls the waters of popular culture, looking for songs, posters, comics and underground magazines to produce an underground history of cannabis in Australia.