A quick look at the Internet shows that conspiracy theories are quite popular. Many people tend to enjoy a good conspiracy theory like a good book—appreciating the contents and the story but not believing it. The distrust of government in general, however, ensures that stories like these will be believed by a small minority, and occasionally, a conspiracy theory will turn out to be true. Having said that, many of these theories are pretty wacko, so you might want to turn your skepticism meter up to 11 before reading.
1. Marijuana Banned Due to Hemp Competition
There are several theories involving marijuana, but we'll deal with the oldest one first: Marijuana was banned because hemp was competing with a paper industry magnate in the 1930s who controlled a lot of timber. Now, there is no doubt that William Randolph Hearst had substantial political influence in the 1930s; he ran a huge number of newspapers throughout the US. He is even blamed for whipping up pressure for the 1898 US-Spain war. It is entirely possible that he sought to protect his own assets by calling for hemp to be banned in the 1930s.
2. Marijuana Banned to Control Big Pharma Trade
The second major one involves marijuana being classified as a drug so that it could be banned or controlled by big pharma—so naturally the government is being run by big pharma. Now, this one seems less likely. While pot is definitely a plant, plants can also be drugs when prepared. After all, people rarely go to a field, pick the plant, and then chew on it. It's not like a fruit where you wash it and eat it for its calorie content. It's being consumed specifically for its euphoric or medicinal properties. In that respect, common sense would say that it's a drug. Now, whether its criminalization is justified is a whole different matter.
3. Clinical Trials
Next stop is the subject of clinical trials. Big pharma exists to make money from healing, so it's perhaps unsurprising that rumors abound that it squashes bad news from clinical trials. And this theory is true. Consider that Paxil was released as an antidepressant in the early 1990s. The drug was released as a non-habit-forming one, so GSK made pretty hefty profits on it. It turns out that the trial data that suggested that it was habit-forming was squashed, and GSK was sued and settled. The same happened for Vioxx and a number of other drugs. The government's isn't complicit, however, and it comes down hard on those who peddle misinformation.
4. CIA Controlled the Drug Trade
Moving back to illicit drugs, a popular rumor is that the CIA controls the drug trade. There are various reasons why it might do this (money, power, or influence), but it is possible, albeit unlikely. The truth is a little more complex. CIA-funded operations were permitted to ignore shipments of drugs to the US from certain rebel groups. They also were allowed to facilitate these shipments to ensure agents had plausibility. This is where the rumor stems from. The truth likely is that no one controls the drug trade, but you can be sure that the CIA has intelligence operatives who do handle drugs.
5. HIV Cure Suppressed For Profits
HIV is a popular discussion topic, and it's often said there is a cure for it out there that's being suppressed. We're sure that eventually, HIV will be cured, but the first company that finds a cure for HIV will make billions because it will have discovered the key to killing viruses completely. This means no more deaths due to flu, measles, and other viruses. The profit opportunities from such a drug would be enough for any pharmaceutical CEO to have a wet dream. An aside to this one is that the government is suppressing a cure because it was the one that infected the general population with HIV. Now, why would any sane person even do that?
6. Homeopathy Works and is Being Put Down by Big Pharma and Government
Homeopathy works and is being put down by big pharma and the government is a popular conspiracy theory, albeit one that has no basis in reality. The truth is that homeopathic medicine rakes in huge amounts of money from those ready to listen to the claims, and the end-product is cheap—it's just sugar. Just because big pharma is sometimes dubious (and rotten) doesn’t mean that homeopathy is a clean and valid alternative. If anything, the people who promote homeopathy are bigger scammers than big pharma, and that's saying something. The government tolerates homeopathy because it doesn't actually do any harm, although that viewpoint is starting to change as people become more vocal about the unintended consequences of people being told that a sugar pill can cure cancer.