It was, admittedly, an age when the censorious impulse ran wild. The same people who would eventually succeed in banning alcohol (albeit temporarily), led the movement to ban marijuana first.
This was justified, as ever, on the grounds of public morality and health, although a strong component of racism – marijuana being strongly associated with Mexicans – also played a part. But behind all of that, just as with the Tea Party today, were corporate interests manipulating the gullible for their own benefit. The paper industry was split between those who used hemp and those who used wood pulp. The former was more profitable, but the latter was supported by deeper pockets and greater influence.
The murderous career of John George Haigh is an object lesson in the importance of forensics in obtaining convictions. Haigh disposed of the bodies of people he killed by dissolving them in baths full of acid – he believed that the police needed a body in order to convict.
He was wrong, of course – although police originally began investigating him based on the items he stole from his victims, an analysis of the residue in his acid bath revealed three human gallstones and part of of denture. Haigh was arrested, and confessed to nine murders although he was convicted of only six. He was hanged in Wandsworth Prison, an execution that caused considerable controversy at the time (for its method – his guilt was not contested).