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. Enter one of the world’s initial labor problem solutions and the defense of “free capital.” It was much easier to cannibalize free-growing trees than “needs-to-be-cultivated” hemp. The tycoons didn’t have to pay for their resource capital – trees were abundant, and mostly planted themselves. Of course, about that time, conspicuous consumption took over, and we started using wood for superfluous products with unsustainable practices. It only took about 50 years for the deforestation problems to emerge. They didn’t start actually planting trees to supply the industry until the 1960s, and it is still not the effort it should be. The rest is a collective national lymbic brain dysfunction problem – we’re “stuck” on continued use of the products that stemmed from this abuse, and we’re so stuck, we’ve been willing to follow the lemmings off the cliff rather than re-examine the manipulated folkloric foundation. Time for everyone’s meds, and it ain’t hemp I’m talking about!

    • I just learned yesterday that higher THC hemp produces 8 times the hemp oil…that’s insane that we don’t plant the higher THC oil then. For thousands of years nobody even knew about THC and it was a non-issue. No victim no crime. We should not limit cheap food or medicine as those are fundamental human rights. Hemp is great for the world & it should be treated with respect not made or kept illegal or scarce for money. Governments waste and they will waste more given more taxes. Gov. BORROWS ONE BILLION DOLLARS A DAY TO SUBSIDIZE FOSSIL FUELS. NEEDLESS WARS, TAX BREAKS FOR THE WEALTHY, BRIDGES TO NOWHERE, MILITARY EQUIPMENT THE PENTAGON DOES NOT WANT. The Pentagon sits on an old marijuana farm for hypocrites sake. Hemp with THC was used like money for 200 years, grown, smoked, eaten by presidents & the poor. Cannabis is the most nutritious food on the planet & the most sustainable resource on the planet with thousands of uses. All marijuana laws need repealed now while we may have a chance to save life on this planet. Higher THC yields higher amounts of oil…naturally big oil and big pharma don’t want superior products flooding the world hurting their profits. But big money only help big money not the planet.

  2. Margaret

    Greediness of close-minded people has no limits…
    This is a very bad reality, because all hemp products, including the paper pulp are the highest quality and they are totally GREEN! I do not smoke anything and will never do that, so I am not talking about marijuana! But even that kind of cannabis could relax muscles for MS sufferers in a form of under-tongue spray (without high), about which patients are not informed by their MDs.
    Cannabis oil heals all illnesses, including all cancers!
    Time to change this based on greediness cruel reality! My intention is re-create it and this is my daily meditation!

    In the meantime, I enjoy my hemp fiber breathable socks on my feet, and my nutritious hemp seeds for breakfast, which are fortunately legal and available!
    Cannabis oil is available in BC on MD prescription, as well… Lets Heal the World!

    • DUR

      Most illnesses and cancers*


      I agree :)))))

  3. Hemp is illegal because it would easy to grow it among marijuana plants for the two plants are very similar through out the early growing stage and the more lucrative cotton industry has political purchase power which is mostly Republican owned companies who also benefit via drug crimes and the prison system. You must understand it’s a finely tuned system with large investments already in place. Marijuana itself will become legal before hemp becomes popular and commonplace.

    • I just learned yesterday that the higher THC hemp creates 8 times the oil of low THC hemp…so we should be growing that. Our ancestors didn’t eve know what THC was and we should not be obsessed with it either other than it’s benefits…not lies to keep the world from benefiting for profits. No victims no crimes. We are not concerned with people consuming grapes or growing grapevines which we can make into wine why is the world punished for hemp/cannabis/marijuana ?

    • James

      What have you been smoking?

    • LM

      It is already legal in several states…..

    • I disagree that one would grow marijuana in amongst the hemp – good marijuana is seed-free, sinsemilla, grown where all the male plants are removed. Hemp farmers double their crop, stalks and seeds, by leaving the males to pollenate the flowers to create seeds.

      • Billy Shakespeare

        Excellent point, one which I’ve been saying for years. If they’re really serious about cracking down on medicinal marijuana then they should gladly let the farmers fill the fields and hill-sides with low- or no-THC hemp. The male spores can travel miles and will slowly weaken any potent strain it comes in contact with. All medicinal cannabis will have to be grown indoors and can be better controlled by licensed growers. Seeds are the enemy of potent cannabis, taking vital nutrients which would otherwise go into making resin. However, seeds are full of THC-free oil which is perfect as a food and can be used for hundreds of other non-toxic purposes including bio-fuel, plastics and paints. Imagine what a wonderful world we’d be living in today if cars all ran on bio-fuel, plastic was biodegradable, cars were lighter, stronger and more efficient, fuel was grown carbon-neutrally from the ground and the profits went to farmers, not Arabs and huge oil conglomerates. And we all know where half the pesticides and herbicides made by monsatan go… cotton and now even more GMO crops which are no-where near as healthy and nutritious as hemp-seed.

        • Why thank you for taking into consideration the rights of people who would like to grow in there yards. You obviously do not understand how Cannabis/Hemp works. Go ahead and plant those “Low THC” strains, they will convert themselves according to environment. THC is a UV ray reaction, and yes seeding can reduce resin production, but it only takes 10mcg of THC to get a person a high. You would still be able to get potent Cannabis. The purpose of Cannabis is to utilize every phenotype a cross produces. This offers a more rounded supply of cannabinoids. The seeds are nutritious but so is the rest of the plant. The plant protein contained in Hemp/Cannabis is a highly digestible globular protein called Edestin. Its the closest natural thing to our own blood. Cannabis is NOT medicinal…its a dietary essential.

        • Phydo

          A nice thought, however, first of all, agri-business (commercial farming & contracts with individual farmers by the food producing conglomerates) has already supplanted independent farmers as the principal source of food, it would certainly be that way with hemp as a bio-fuel; secondly, taking up valuable arable land to produce fuel when so many people starve on our planet is arguably no less egregious than the use of fossil fuels, i.e. ethically neutral. Bio-fuels are not a good/viable solution for renewable energy. Otherwise, I do support the use/growing of hemp/marijuana, just not for the scale required to be a replacement for fossil fuels.

          • WASP

            I have to disagree with you Phydo on bio-fuels not being a viable solution ,,, it may not solve the whole problem but could go a long way towards that end . I drive a lot for a living and I see it all the time in most rural areas where the right of ways and the center medians of interstate and U.S highways could support a rather large crop of hemp to be used for fuel production . consider these this : #1/this land cannot be used for food crops due to it’s close proximity to vehicle exaust ,, #2/hemp absorbs 4 times the amount of carbon dioxide than the same acreage of trees so what better place to have such a crop than right next to a major source of it ,,, #3/corn takes a lot of energy to produce fuel from it and winds up creating about 1 to 1 1/2 units of energy for every unit you put into making it (which totally sucks) whereas hemp is more like a 7 – 1 ratio (not sure about this number maybe someone can enlighten me on that) so the roads can produce more energy than the farm fields of corn that line both sides of the road ,,,#4/hemp needs little to no maintenance and doesn’t require fertilizers or pesticides and does not need to be rotated as a crop whereas corn requires heavy amounts of both,,,#5/hemp actually cleans toxins from the soil so there again what better place to grow it than next to roadways,,,#6/highways around here need to be mowed between 3 and 6(or more) times a year whereas hemp could be harvested 2 or more times a year so that saves fuel right there,,,#7/(just a thought , may or may not be the case) since bugs naturally avoid hemp you may see less bugs splattered on your windshield as an added bonus , lol ,,,#8/the profits from hemp fuel production could be put directly back into the roads creating a TRUE highway SYSTEM freeing up taxes for other uses ,,,…

    • P LAAGE

      I agree, it was all about growing cotton plain and simple, get rid of the competition!

  4. Adam Hennessy

    Hemp is illegal because we, as a people, are short-sighted…that being said I believe even the short of sight can see the giant market potential…if economic viability is proven again…people will come. I personally feel I’m the man to prove it. I may not know much, but I do know how to sell, and of things that are easy to sell…Hemp is a salesman’s wet dream. I don’t care how many ways you slice it, I can still use it’s raw materials to make a living.

  5. Dave

    let’s start making some pro-hemp films then as well. But only if they are as humorous as reefer madness was.

    • We could start with “Treefer Madness.”

      • Brilliant! Also show how another population is affected – birds. Hemp seeds are primo bird food. Their food source has been hunted down and eradicated.

        • I love Wasp’s analysis on bio-fuels and planting on roadsides. (unsure how these comments are nesting)

    • Afilmionosphere

      Oh Man what a great idea, I think that will happen as public opinion sways a little bit more, as you know the costs associated with films are staggering today.

  6. Anslinger was a racist and wanted to incarcerate Mexicans and blacks who were the largest users of pot at that time (jazz musicians and farm workers) so cannibis was classified as a narcotic in a deal with congress and the rest is history. a simple change of classification would solve alot of the problems, but legalization to the level of alcohol and letting states determine age and taxation policies is the right course of action. Can’t we all just git along?

    • Jeretta Angeline

      More like, “can’t we all just take a hit from the bong?” 😉

  7. paul

    Dinnae smoke the soapy, you know it`s fuckin ropey, I`de rather spend the extra cash, and get myself some real hash. No don`t you smoke the soapy, you know it`s fuckin ropey, I`de rather spend the extra cash, if your lucky score some home grown grass, now don`t you smoke that soapy, cos you know it`s fuckin gash, fuck the law, buy some seeds, and grow yourself some grass.

  8. Ridiculous, hemp is so versatile and eco friendly, here in Britain we could even be using it more. Nutritionally very good for you too.


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