How Hemp Became Illegal: The Marijuana Link

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If I told you there was a plant available to us today that could be grown in pretty much any soil, requires no pesticides and it takes very little maintenance to grow, and this magical plant could be used for a very large number of necessities and goods we use today yet we don’t use it, would you think to yourself “Joe you must be high or on some other cheap drug?”

Well potential naysayers out there, I’m not high nor do I get high, but let me tell you, there is a plant available right now and it is often mistaken to be marijuana but has capabilities that are beyond what you could imagine. It’s called Hemp. To be clear, even the plant we refer to has Marijuana is actually hemp. Most accurately, hemp that is composed of less than .3% THC is considered non-remedial hemp. Hemp that contains more than .3% THC is considered remedial hemp. This is the type many call Marijuana. Right off the top, Hemp looks very much like marijuana as it technically is the same plant. But unlike maryjane, it does not contain anywhere near the amount of THC needed for someone to get high if they tried to smoke it. Funny thing is, in the United States, Hemp is just as illegal to grow as Marijuana is. How can this be? The plant doesn’t even provide THC to get high and yet it’s still illegal? Yes…

Hemp used to be used for many things: clothes, cars, plastics, building materials, rope, paper, linens, food, medicine and so on. In fact, it used to be mandatory in the United States for farmers to grow hemp if they had the land. There are plenty more stats regarding hemp you can find here.

The fact is Hemp was very popular throughout the 1800’s and 1900’since it was incredibly useful for so many reasons. But one day that all changed, and now it is illegal.. so how did this happen?

The History
During Hoover’s presidency, Andrew Mellon became Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury and Dupont’s primary investor. He appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger, to head the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Secret meetings were held by these financial tycoons. Hemp was declared dangerous and a threat to their billion dollar enterprises. For their dynasties to remain intact, hemp had to go. This then led these men to take an obscure Mexican slang word: ‘marihuana’ and push it into the consciousness of America. The reason why they changed the name was because everyone knew of hemp and how amazing it was for the world. They would never be able to get away with banning hemp, so they used a name they knew no one would care about.

Not long after this plan was set in place, the media began a blitz of  ‘yellow journalism’ in the late 1920s and 1930s. Yellow journalism is essentially journalism where stories with catchy headlines are put into the mainstream media to get attention, yet these stories are not well researched or backed up. They are often used simply to create public opinion. Many newspapers were pumping stories emphasizing the horrors and dangers of marihuana. The “menace” of marihuana made headlines everywhere. Readers learned that it was responsible for everything from car accidents to losing morality and it wasn’t long before public opinion started to shape.

Next came several films like ‘Reefer Madness’ (1936), ‘Marihuana: Assassin of Youth’ (1935) and ‘Marihuana: The Devil’s Weed’ (1936) which were all propaganda films designed by these industrialists to create an enemy out of marihuana. Reefer Madness was possibly the most interesting of the films as it depicted a man going crazy from smoking marijuana and then murdering his family with an ax. With all of these films, the goal was to gain public support so that anti-marihuana laws could be passed without objection.

Have a look at the following regarding marihuana from ‘The Burning Question’ aka Reefer Madness:

  • A violent narcotic
  • Acts of shocking violence
  • Incurable insanity
  • Soul-destroying effects
  • Under the influence of the drug he killed his entire family with an ax
  • More vicious, more deadly even than these soul-destroying drugs (heroin, cocaine) is the menace of marihuana!

Unlike most films with a simple ending, Reefer Madness ended with bold words on the screen: TELL YOUR CHILDREN.

In the 1930s, things were different than today. The population did not question things very much. They did not have tools like the Internet to quickly spread information and learn about things that were happening. Most built their opinions and beliefs off of the news via print or the radio. As a result and what was instructed by mainstream news, many people did tell their children about marihuana and thus shaping a strong public opinion about it.

On April 14, 1937, the Prohibitive Marihuana Tax Law or the bill that outlawed hemp was directly brought to the House Ways and Means Committee. Simply put, this committee is the only one that could introduce a bill to the House floor without it being debated by other committees. At the time, the Chairman of the Ways and Means was Robert Doughton who was a Dupont supporter. With vested interest, he insured that the bill would pass Congress.

In an attempt to stop the bill from being passed, Dr. James Woodward, a physician and attorney, attempted to testify on behalf of the American Medical Association. He mentioned that the reason the AMA had not denounced the Marihuana Tax Law sooner was that the Association had just discovered that marihuana was hemp. Or at least a strain of it. Hemp and Marijuana are both varieties of Cannabis sativa, but this distinction was purposely not made well known to the public. Since the law was not so much focused on banning one or the other, both found their way into the ban. The AMA recognized cannabis/marihuana as a medicine found in numerous healing products sold and used for quite some time. The AMA like many other’s did not realize that the deadly menace they had been reading about in the media was in fact hemp.

In September of 1937, hemp prohibition began. Arguably the most useful plant known to man has become illegal to grow and use both in its non THC strain and THC strain called marihuana. To this day, this plant is still illegal to grow in the United States.

To the public, Congress banned hemp because it was said to be a violent and dangerous drug. In reality, Hemp does nothing more than act as an amazing resource to virtually any industry and any product. As you can imagine, this was also a big reason for the ban of Hemp as it was a serious threat to many of the big industries out there. At the time it was mainly plastics, oil and paper.

Here we are in modern day times and it is clear we are in some trouble when it comes to how we treat our environment. The resources and practices we use today for energy as well as product creation is very harmful and toxic to not just our planet but ourselves also. Despite the full awareness that exists surrounding hemp as an option to transform how things can be done on this planet, governments continue to have the plant banned and it is still often mistaken for marihuana due to how it looks.


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  1. Speculator

    Personally, I think if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I can sort of see where the US government is coming from; THC in any concentration can be drawn out and focused into a psychoactive drug. It’s probably just harder with the Cannabis sativa species than it is with Cannabis indica. I’m sure that it can do all that wonderful stuff, but the reality is if you give a man an inch, he’ll take a yard. Looking up pictures of Sativa and Indica, it’s pretty darn clear which is which. You’d either have to bribe the official to clear it as Sativa (which no doubt would happen) or breed a strain of Indica that looks like Sativa. Truth be told, it would be great if we could trust people and know that this great resource would be well-used for all the right purposes. But the reality is we’re humans; we’re flawed, we have weak willpower. If something tempting is there, odds are humans will do the thing that is worst for them because it gives immediate gratification and doing the right thing in the long run doesn’t make them happy soon enough. It’s a sad cycle. I don’t believe that there are such things as evil weapons, evil drugs, and evil pens and cameras. There are, however, evil people who will do evil things.
    Wish we could trust people to do the right thing all the time… :(

    • 2 Mellon Head

      “There are, however, evil people who will do evil things.
      Wish we could trust people to do the right thing all the time…”

      Thank goodness robber barons and the like can be trusted to not succumb to these base temptations… Luckily these saintly individuals conspired together to save the common people from their weak will power. The whole story I guess just proves when you do good things for totally unselfish reasons then fortune smiles upon you.

      “Personally, I think if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

      Do you really? Or are you simply (MK)ultra controlled?

      • 2 Mellon Head

        I did not use the word “controlled” for the record. My original word was replaced by an editor with the word “controlled.”

        • 2 Mellon Head

          If I were allowed to choose my own words, while granting the editor veto powers, I would have either stricken the last sentence completely or stricken the “(MK)ultra” and replaced “controlled” with “confused.”

  2. Excellent article, nice job #thcint

  3. alina

    Lizzie Borden killed her family with an ax and she was not on Marijuana.

    • Actually, she was acquitted. And there is strong evidence that a mentally ill man was responsible for the murders of the Bordens. But it’s so much more depraved & stimulating to believe that Lizzie did it, so ill-informed gossip mongers like you just keep spreading the same old gossip.

  4. fra cimma

    yeah but what about the rest of the world? you know, those other people and nations and governments, which is called The World?

  5. Paul K. Erlandson

    This is an article I wrote for my school’s newspaper:

    A Legislative Atrocity: Hemp & Marijuana

    By: Paul Erlandson

    Ever since I was a youngster, all my classmates and I were trained by the public school system to “save the rainforest”. But not just save the rainforest from being completely obliterated, the schools instilled awareness regarding waste and recycling was indoctrinated on us all through musical performances, choir versus and dramaturgy. We were essentially forced to be aware of the crisis that was dooming the entire planet just south of the equator.
    After grade school and brain development, friends of mine began smoking the marijuana plant and I began looking through internet articles upon my own fruition. I found was hemp outlawed due to it’s evil cousin, the ‘marihuana’ bud, or at very least, played a major role in it’s banishment.
    Apparently this drug would intoxicate the user to the point of irremediable psychosis! This, the same plant my friends were puffing away at every chance they got!
    Now we have come to our senses and the taxpaying majority has spoken up, we have legalized smoking grass for it’s “medicinal qualities” and Michigan law has changed. Still opposed, the federal government, try as they may, cannot stop the majority of people from buying, selling, and ingesting this plant.
    Yet the vision has been lost! I believe we, as people, have become too stoned to realize the true issues here. Pipe shops such as “Bongz & Thongz” popping up all around the Ann Arbor Area, seemingly just another form of American ignorance. A place where Americans flaunt their middle finger’s to all living cultures. Ultimately saying, “I don’t care about anything, Give me my Bong and dress me like a whore.” Not that there is anything wrong with it. Hey, I believe in freedom as much as the next guy, this has just become a sign of the times of what a shameless culture Americans have adopted.
    Living here, having freedom to study, create, design, invent and become whoever we want to be, our freedom is tragically limited to meet the needs of our own lethargically charged apathetic ignorance.
    Because industrialized hemp would undermine plastics, diesel fuel, and the cotton industry, state governments allow us to smoke the drug ultimately because we have engineered the drug to produce effects similar to that of the ever-so-prevalent anti-anxiety medication and, well, hey! Why don’t we alter the plant to make it spot on?
    Organic marijuana is practically scoffed at with all new advances in hydroponics, air-ponics and the like. Now the underground of “pot culture” has become a trifling competition, where only the strongest smoker will survive, completely backwards from the culture emerging in the 1960’s of love and acceptance.
    Overall marijuana was not intended to be smoked like we have engineered the carton of cigarettes, but the way this is turning out to be, thats probably the direction it’s headed.
    Imagine: “Marlboro Green’s” a special blend of arsenic and Hydrogen Cyanide fused with a heavy blend of petrochemically enriched GMO based marijuana bud.
    living in Ann Arbor, arguably the most diverse group of people living together on the brink of history, we must realize this and only strive to change these ridiculous laws before they are set in stone & not stand idly by while the land is being fracked and drilled and ravaged for energy sources while there remain a healthy alternative via: Hemp.

    • Zan

      Great read and feedback! Oh and thank you for the laugh too :)

  6. When something is so useful, can be used to make everything from hemp shirts to biofuels, and then becomes illegal, you know it’s not in the best interests of the people. Long overdue to let farmers grow hemp in America again!

  7. L Wilson

    There may be some hope after all. Kentucky has now made growing hemp legal, and Tennessee (never to be outdone by Kentucky) is considering doing the same, as an alternative to growing tobacco, in order to create a new cash crop for its struggling farmers.

    • JEG

      Don’t forget Uruguay as well. of course, the UN is slamming them hard for it, but here’s a message to the power-hungry and the disgustingly “wealthy”: MONEY WON’T GET YOU INTO HEAVEN YOU ASSHOLES!!!

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