In 1937 the United States government outlawed hemp, branding it “marihuana” the Mexican killer weed largely at the bidding of William Randolph Hearst. Harry J Anslinger the director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and nephew-in-law to Andrew Mellon, who was also his boss led the charge. Mr. Anslinger would often read sensational, fabricated and racist stories from Hearst’s newspapers about all the horrible things that Mexicans would do while using marijuana. That soon included all people of color. He claimed marijuana would destroy the youth of America causing heroin addiction, criminality, insanity and death to its users. It is odd coincidence that the vast timber holdings that Hearst possessed would have held much less value with hemp as a competitor for paper production. Dupont and his banker Andrew Mellon also profited greatly with the exclusion of hemp as a natural competitor to synthetic fibers such as Rayon and Nylon and cellulose for the explosives industry. In one act the United States took the power and profit away from American farmers and gave it all to a handful of rich people.
This is the same plant that the founding fathers of our country grew and people around the world have been growing for thousands of years without problems. Indian Hemp or Cannabis was also part of the pharmacopia in the United States for a hundred years prior to prohibition without alarm from the medical community. Hemp was so important in early America that our country would not likely have survived without it. It was vital for cordage and sails to build and maintain a navy. Relying on a foreign source would have left us too vulnerable. It was even a requirement for land owners in early America to grow hemp and taxes could be paid with hemp.
Popular Mechanics ran an article in February 1938 about the burgeoning billion-dollar hemp market and a new machine called the decorticator. This machine made processing hemp for fiber much less labor intensive. Traditionally hemp had been processed with slave labor and popularity of growing hemp had decreased dramatically after the Civil War. With the diversity of usefulness of hemp from clothing and paper to building materials and food, this was a game changer. Henry Ford even made a car from a hemp base plastic that was said to be 10 times stronger than steel when struck with a hammer and this car ran on a hemp-based biofuel.
The testimony to Congress leading up to the Marijuana Tax Act included a host of people. Harry Anslinger the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Dr. William Woodward from the American Medical Association, Ralph Loziers from the National Oil Seed Institute, the bird seed industry, Dr. James Munch a Temple University pharmacologist testified that he had isolated the active part of marijuana and injected it into dogs that all suffered deterioration of the brain and insanity, and he postulated the same thing happens to people. Dr. Woodward from the American Medical Association recommended more research into medical benefits of cannabis and chided Congress on the secrecy of the hearings about marijuana. He claimed the AMA was unaware that marijuana, that had been touted in the newspapers as a killer weed and cannabis were the same thing until a couple of days before his testimony and criticized the testimony heard about the veracity of addiction among criminals and use among children without any reports from the prison bureau or the department of education or the children’s bureau. Dr Woodward was curtly dismissed and accused of obstruction by Harry Anslinger and members of the Ways and Means committee. Ralph Loziers claimed that hemp had been grown for thousands of years and had a multitude of beneficial uses from clothing and food to oils for paint and fuel. The paint industry said they could find other sources of oil. The Navy, still heavily reliant on hemp for cordage and explosives was against it until Dupont, that had just invented Rayon and Nylon and the main supplier of explosives for the military, said Dupont can furnish all the fiber you want. Randolph Hurst owned millions of acres of timber for paper production and Poncho Villa had confiscated large tracts of his timber holdings in Mexico. His hatred of Mexicans and desire to corner the paper market made marijuana prohibition a favorite of his and he would use his newspaper network to vilify Mexicans and marijuana. Harry Anslinger used to testify to Congress of all the horrors and harm that marijuana would cause, often quoting horror stories from Hurst’s newspapers where the term yellow journalism started. Interestingly, the bird food industry said that they could not find a suitable replacement for hemp seeds because without it the birds wouldn’t sing, their coats would lose their luster and they were allowed to continue to include hemp seed in bird food. It seems to me this act was largely done to eliminate a viable and useful product from the free market to eliminate competition for a handful of rich people in new industries. It also served as a tool to harass and punish people of color.
In the mid 60’s Timothy Leary was arrested for a small amount of marijuana and through his trial and a trip to the Supreme Court in 1969, the Marijuana Tax Act was ruled unconstitutional. Congress scrambled to come up with the Controlled Substance Act and listed marijuana as a schedule 1 drug prohibiting any sale or use. Some Congressmen expressed concern that marijuana should be in a less restrictive schedule, so a presidential committee was formed to study marijuana and its effect on society. The committee was primarily filled with presidential appointees including former states attorney generals and chiefs of police in large cities. The report titled A Signal of Misunderstanding contradicted the given dogma that marijuana was a harm to society and even recommended several remedies from decriminalization to legalization because marijuana prohibition was too harsh. It is reported that Richard Nixon threw the report in the trash without reading before declaring war on drugs fueled by his hate of hippies and war protesters. In response to this, High Times, Playboy and Norml filed for a trial to reschedule marijuana from schedule 1 to schedule 2. After 15 years of stonewalling by the Federal Government a trial was finally convened by DEA Administrative Court Judge Francis Young. After hearing days of testimony from doctors and patients she declared that marijuana could certainly be used safely under a doctor’s care and that it was efficacious for a variety of symptoms from pain relief to seizure control and eased the suffering of cancer and terminally ill patients. She declared that marijuana was one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man and less toxic than many of the foods we consume such as raw potatoes. Her ruling was vacated without cause and a new report filed claiming marijuana to be far more harmful than previously reported without explanation. Many other examples of government turning a blind eye to the truth about marijuana are available if you’re willing to look. The online Schaffer Library of Drug Policy is a good source. The Marijuana Conviction by Richard Bonnie and Charles Whitebread is a good read and so is The Emperor Wears No Cloths by Jack Herer.
When considering the racist and just plain fabricated evidence that marijuana prohibition is built on, and that the Federal Government eliminated part of our liberty as a favor to rich people, that alone should be enough for them to remove marijuana from any listing of prohibited substances. Over the course of the last 8 decades our government has hidden and ignored information about marijuana that didn’t fit their agenda, going so far as to make it a crime for federal authorities to promote legalization of schedule 1 drugs in Public Law 106-113 Sec 167.
SEC. 167. (a) None of the funds contained in this Act may
be used to enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize
or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use,
or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled
Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivatives.
The simple truth is that Congress and Presidents past and present have sought to and succeeded in picking winners and losers in society and the free market. In this process of trading favors for money and support from industry, we have over the course of time lost most of our liberty to endless regulation by bureaus, departments and administrations and duplicitous laws to the point where little is left in our lives that is not ruled by government. Now it seems they want to be able to mandate our healthcare as well. All these things are in opposition to the principles this country was founded on such as liberty and justice for all, equality among men and unalienable rights that come from God. There has never been a time in the history of our nation when liberty and justice applied to all people. There have always been groups of people that just didn’t measure up and denied liberty and justice, often along racial lines and there have always been those who are above the law common citizens must endure. Domination and control of society and its assets seems to be the goal with little concern for truth, justice or liberty. Congress and the President should be embarrassed and ashamed of what they have done. They sold out the citizens of this nation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been imprisoned and many killed in support of the marijuana prohibition lie. When will the last person die for this lie?
The Federal Government has steadfastly clung to the Reefer Madness view of marijuana as evidence contrary to that view continue to mount. They have done all they can to discredit and ignore all evidence that shows anything other than marijuana is bad. They have had the patent on medical marijuana and known that it is efficacious for the shrinking of head and chest tumors associated with cancer since the early 70’s and kept silent. They have refused and stonewalled all attempts to study marihuana for its benefits and only funded studies to discredit marijuana. In all of this they have yet to prove that marijuana is a harm to society or its users.
Many in Congress will admit that the war on marijuana is a failure. Few will admit the failure is theirs because they abandoned liberty, the truth, and stabbed Americans in the back by selling our freedom to a handful of rich people while prosecuting a war against their own citizens in support of a series of lies and false information. Congress and the President should be ashamed of marihuana prohibition but don’t seem to be. Maybe they don’t know about the history of marijuana prohibition or just don’t care. Why can’t we have a government dedicated to the preservation of liberty instead of its constant decay caused by endless duplicitous laws and bureaucracies designed to limit freedom. Even if Congress and the President have no shame. I am ashamed of them. They did it all in our name.