Smoke and mirrors: history of illegality of hemp and marijuana.
Fact vs fiction
The rate of absolutely zero deaths from a marijuana overdose remained steady from last year, according to figures released this month by the Centers for Disease Control. But while Americans aren’t dying as a result of marijuana overdoses, the same can’t be said for a range of other substances, both legal and illicit... Source: Dec 28, 2015, Huffington Post
natural high for the economy, environment & our body politic: Hemp
It was Willie Nelson who first suggested to me that hemp is "not just for breakfast anymore." And Willie is a fellow who knows quite a bit about the plant species called cannabis, marijuana, pot, reefer or whatever you choose to call it. But Willie's point was not to tout the smokeable cannabis, rather to push a strain of the plant that farmers worldwide have been raising for 6,000 years to produce a cornucopia of products including beautiful fabrics, fine paper, inexpensive fuel, safe pain relievers and plastic substitutes.
Did you know that our Declaration of Independence was drafted on paper made of 100%, pure hemp, that "Old Ironsides" were powered by hemp cloth sails, and that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson cultivated the stuff? Jefferson even wrote that "hemp is of first necessity . . . to the wealth and protection of the country." And he wasn't just blowing smoke.
Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I, Jim Hightower, hereby confess that— unlike Bill Clinton—I inhaled. And I enjoyed. But this isn't about "Puff The Magic Dragon," it's about an easy to grow commercial crop that can produce a natural high for our economy. As for it's hallucinogenic properties, industrial hemp is to marijuana what near beer is to beer—it has practically zero tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the elemental oomph in marijuana that makes you get high.
You could smoke a pure hemp rope all day long and you wouldn't get high, you'd get sick. As an agricultural economist put it: "You'd croak from smoke before you'd get high on hemp."
Yet Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, his predecessors, various boneheads in congress, and assorted corporate interests have conspired since 1937 to make it illegal for the farming heirs of Washington and Jefferson to raise this most useful and profitable crop.
In a mind numbing example of ignorance and arrogance in action, hemp is presently classified as a "Schedule One Substance" by the obtuse Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning it's a no no, right up there with heroin, cocaine and other life wreckers. Attempt to grow it . . . and Gen. McCaffrey's drug troopers will arrive in the dead of night, storm onto your property, bulldoze your crop, and haul you off to the federal pokey...
Excerpt from The Middle and Working Class Manifesto ~ by Paul Bern
How did marijuana become illegal in the first place?
October 9, 2014 - By Dr. Malik Burnett and Amanda Reiman, PhD, MSW
Now that many politicians and the public are taking a more objective look at marijuana, many are asking about the legal history of marijuana and how it ended up in the category of drugs deemed most dangerous by the federal government (Schedule I).
To understand how we ended up here, it is important to go back to what was happening in the United States in the early 1900’s just after the Mexican Revolution. At this time we saw an influx of immigration from Mexico into states like Texas and Louisiana. Not surprising, these new Americans brought with them their native language, culture and customs. One of these customs was the use of cannabis as a medicine and relaxant.
Mexican immigrants referred to this plant as “marihuana”. While Americans were very familiar with “cannabis” because it was present in almost all tinctures and medicines available at the time, the word “marihuana” was a foreign term. So, when the media began to play on the fears that the public had about these new citizens by falsely spreading claims about the “disruptive Mexicans” with their dangerous native behaviors including marihuana use, the rest of the nation did not know that this “marihuana” was a plant they already had in their medicine cabinets.
The demonization of the cannabis plant was an extension of the demonization of the Mexican immigrants. In an effort to control and keep tabs on these new citizens, El Paso, TX borrowed a play from San Francisco’s playbook, which had outlawed opium decades earlier in an effort to control Chinese immigrants. The idea was to have an excuse to search, detain and deport Mexican immigrants. That excuse became marijuana.
This method of controlling people by controlling their customs was quite successful, so much so that it became a national strategy for keeping certain populations under the watch and control of the government.
During hearings on marijuana law in the 1930’s, claims were made about marijuana’s ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women. This imagery became the backdrop for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which effectively banned its use and sales.
While the Act was ruled unconstitutional years later, it was replaced with the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970’s which established Schedules for ranking substances according to their dangerousness and potential for addiction. Cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category, Schedule I, supposedly as a place holder while then President Nixon commissioned a report to give a final recommendation.
The Schafer Commission, as it was called, declared that marijuana should not be in Schedule I and even doubted its designation as an illicit substance. However, Nixon discounted the recommendations of the commission, and marijuana remains a Schedule I substance.
In 1996, California became the first state to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes, ending its 59 year reign as an illicit substance with no medical value. Prior to 1937, cannabis had enjoyed a 5000 year history as a therapeutic agent across many cultures. In this context, its blip as an illicit and dangerous drug was dwarfed by its role as a medicine.
Opponents of medical marijuana regulations claim that there is not enough research to warrant medicinal use, but supporters of medical marijuana point to the 5000 years of history where cannabis was widely used as evidence for its medical efficacy.
Now that 23 states, plus Washington, DC, have passed medical marijuana laws, the public is questioning the utility of keeping marijuana under lock and key, especially in light of the racist and propagandized basis for making it illegal in the first place.
In just a few weeks, Florida, Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC voters will have the opportunity to put an additional nail in the coffin of prohibition by voting to legalize medical access in Florida and adult access in Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC. Changing the marijuana laws in these states and more to come is one of the first steps in dismantling the racially motivated war on drugs.
Dr. Malik Burnett is a former surgeon and physician advocate. He also served as executive director of a medical marijuana nonprofit organization. Amanda Reiman, PhD, holds a doctorate in Social Welfare and teaches classes on drug policy at the University of California-Berkeley.
Source: Drug Policy ORG
Who started this?
To find out about the origins of marijuana prohibition, start by researching Harry J Anslinger, the Assistant Prohibition Commissioner, then later the First Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the U.S. Wikipedia has a section on Anslinger.
It has been said that Harry Anslinger was a puppet of both the Dupont company and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst who were looking to corner the market on synthetic fabrics by demonizing marijuana and the hemp plant, in order to make it illegal.
Up until the 1930's hemp had been used for 6000 years and was one of the most useful and versatile plants known to man. In fact in 1619 a law was enacted that ordered U.S. farmers to grow hemp because of its usefulness and up until the 1800's most clothing was made from hemp.
In 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act made hemp and marijuana illegal. Since one cannot get high from hemp, one might ask on what basis was it made illegal? The following video provides some answers.