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Unraveling An American Dilemma: The Demonization Of Marijuana - Part 1

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The primary goal of this thesis is to reveal a new perspective with regard to the dilemma of the prohibition of marihuana.In particular, the subject matter delves into the specific history of the hemp industry of the 1930s.According to this author’s research, the circumstances surrounding the evolution of the marihuana issue in the United States were directly effected by certain developments in the hemp and wood pulp industries of the 1930s. Aspects of this thesis are not entirely original and the author is indebted to the efforts of previous researchers. However, the main arguments of this thesis have been based upon original material.



Introduction

Hidden Motives



Since the dawn of civilization, people have cultivated the plant known scientifically as cannabis and agriculturally as hemp for its fiber, seed, and pharmaceutical properties.Throughout the world, the records of archaeology and history reveal that humanity universally recognized the benefits of this unique plant.Such recognition ended abruptly in 1930, when the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotics began to educate the American public about marihuana, as hemp had been known colloquially in the Sonoran region of Mexico.[1] Between 1930 and 1934, the Bureau compiled a body of misinformation which suggested that the use of marihuana was directly linked to crime, induced violent behavior, and caused insanity. Then, suddenly, in 1935, the Bureau flooded the nation with educational propaganda against marihuana use. During this act of demonization, the Bureau continuously cited its own accumulated body of misinformation as a precedent for legislation on the federal level.Through this studied deception, the Bureau effectively lobbied for the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which considerably restricted the usage, distribution, and production of marihuana.Significantly, restrictions on marihuana automatically implied restrictions on the cultivation of hemp.[2]

Several highly suspicious circumstances surround the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ demonization of marihuana in the 1930s.First, there never was a marihuana problem; this manufactured malady was a great media spoof.Secondly, the misinformation, which was disseminated to the public by the Bureau, was based on conjecture and hearsay; the objective truth and the scientific method were summarily discarded.Furthermore, the Bureau even suppressed and ignored information which was unbiased, objective, and contradicted its own special brand of demonization. The whole scenario of the Bureau’s “marihuana education” program is an amazing example of how easily the American public could be deceived by a slick propaganda campaign.In retrospect, this trail of deceitful acts raises the possibility that the Bureau’s decision to demonize marihuana may have been prompted by hidden motives. [3]

By strange coincidence the final assault of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics on marihuana occurred simultaneously with its own awareness of the emergence of a new hemp industry in America in 1935.This new hemp industry was based on the commercial practicability of producing raw cellulose pulp from hemp for the manufacture of paper. The Bureau seems to have demonized marihuana for motives that went far beyond its mandate to legally regulate the production and distribution of the drug. Specifically, the Bureau provided the perfect vehicle for vested interests who wanted to terminate the movement to develop a hemp-based paper industry.Marihuana was demonized by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the 1930s because of the hemp plant’s promising economic future.[4]

This hypothesis, that the demonization of marihuana was a result of the hemp plant’s economic potential, is not entirely original.In large part it is based on the observations of previous researchers. Their insights into why the Federal Bureau of Narcotics demonized marihuana in the 1930s are particularly relevant to this hypothesis.Because of this relevancy, it is necessary to briefly introduce the basic arguments of these previous researchers.The arguments may be easily separated into two sets of explanations.

The first explanation was provided by the decriminalization movement, which started in the late 1960s.[5] According to decriminalization scholars, the prohibition of marihuana should be understood as an unfortunate result of the ideological climate of the day. Typically, modern historians use the term Progressive to describe the ideological climate of the early twentieth century. This period of time was characterized by strong convictions favoring the ideals of Calvinistic Protestantism, Scientific Materialism, and Uninhibited Capitalism.Aspects of these three philosophies were blended in America and became manifest in Progressivism, the ideology of the predominantly WASP upper- and middle-classes.[6]

For the everyday person caught in the grind of everyday life Progressivism translated into an endless quantification of one’s value toward society. Value was measured by the job or work being performed by the person.Jobs or work were graded on the basis of the wealth they generated. This situation created a hierarchy in which the wealthy elite formed an plutocracy.In order to justify its existence this plutocracy actively promoted Progressivism. The essential tenet of this philosophy was based on the strategy of promoting the virtues of work and chastising the vices of idleness.To entice the masses to follow this ethic, the ideology was imbued with the assumption that hard work was the secret to material wealth and earthly paradise. From this syllogism, it was only natural that the acquisition of material wealth was portrayed as the ideal pursuit for people.This formula for success was the source of the modern American work ethic.[7]

The Progressive mentality infected the predominantly WASP upper- and middle-classes of America.This socio-economic and cultural cross-section of American society was deeply affected by a latent xenophobia.This innate nativism definitely prejudiced the Progressive policy toward drugs during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Ideologically, the Progressives followed the notion that certain social customs were vices which impeded people from focusing on their work and generating more wealth.On the basis of this reasoning, the federal government was pressured to impose moral imperatives on the American populace by removing perceived vices through prohibitive legislation.The most well-known historical example of this type of Progressive social experimentation was the Eighteenth Amendment, the prohibition of alcohol. Ironically, Western cultures had always considered alcohol to be an acceptable vice. The failure of prohibition during the 1920s is attributed to the previous consideration, since drinking was the customary accompaniment for most leisure activities in America.[8]

Marihuana, unlike alcohol, was generally unknown to the American people until the 1960s. The drug was first discovered during the first decade of the twentieth century among Mexican immigrant communities in the Southwest, where marihuana was used both recreationally and medicinally.Shortly after the initial discovery of this customary practice, local officials succumbed to the influence of xenophobic prejudices and seized on marihuana use as a medium to suppress unwanted Mexican immigrants. To gain support for legislation suppressing marihuana, these local officials verified and spread rumors that the use of marihuana caused crime and violence.In time, marihuana began to appear in the cities.The same biased rumors inspired authorities in the cities to meld marihuana into the evolving Progressive policy toward narcotic drugs. Prohibition was the cornerstone of this policy. Thus, during the first quarter of the twentieth century, state and local laws were easily passed against the non-medicinal use of marihuana.However, after examining these early efforts to prohibit the drug, decriminalization scholars were quick to note the troubling absence of any scientific or historical evidence to suggest the existence of a true problem with marihuana. Instead, they traced the rationale for the isolated incidences of legislation on the state and local levels to xenophobia and the emerging Progressive policy with regard to narcotic drugs.[9]

In 1930, the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotics adopted marihuana as a federal issue.[10] According to decriminalization scholars, the Bureau proceeded on the basis of the previously given rationale for state and local legislation, freely citing the unfounded rumors of xenophobic officials and the prevaricated data of overzealous Progressives as a precedent for its action.The Bureau believed that this body of information was credible.Of course, this explanation implies that the people in the Bureau were totally ignorant of unbiased and objective data gathering techniques, otherwise known as the scientific method.By the 1930s, the scientific method was the standard applied to all questions needing objective answers, but for some reason this practice was ignored within the Bureau.[11]

Despite the Bureau’s puzzling disregard for objectivity, decriminalization scholars maintained that the Bureau’s decision to demonize marihuana in the 1930s, and especially from 1935 on, was an unfortunate result of the ideological climate of the day, Progressivism tempered by the latent xenophobia of the middle- and upper-class WASP majority.The previous explanation tends to lose the historical truth by feeding the interpreter into the convenience of its logic, since it leads one to believe that the Bureau was merely acting as an extension of the general will of the people. To the contrary, the simplicity of such an explanation fails to take into account the fact that the Bureau created the prevalent public opinion through the final act of demonization. This act was definitely premeditated and the Bureau was primarily responsible.

Until recently, the decriminalization thesis was the only academic explanation for the prohibition of marihuana.However, during the past decade a second generation of legalization literature has surfaced.[12] This new movement presented a conspiracy thesis to explain why the Federal Bureau of Narcotics demonized marihuana in the 1930s.At first glance the conspiracy thesis seems like quite a stretch of the imagination from the decriminalization movement’s attempt to describe a docile Bureau, which acted on the public’s outcry against the evils of marihuana. Instead, the conspiracy thesis suggested that hemp was destined to become one of the largest cash crop ever grown because of its industrial value as a source of raw cellulose. According to Jack Herer, the leading proponent of this second generation of legalization literature, the Bureau was a tool of vested interests who sought to protect their business investments because they feared the loss of profits if hemp made a comeback as an industrial commodity.[13]

The company which was cited as having the most to lose was E. I. Du Pont De Nemours & Company, hereafter referred to as Du Pont. During the company’s one hundred year plus history it had transacted business with only two banks.One of these banks was the Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh. This bank was owned by the Secretary of Treasury, Andrew Mellon. On the basis of this banking connection, Herer assumed that Mellon’s interests were in tune with Du Pont’s interests in the most intimate manner financially. As the Secretary of Treasury, Mellon appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger, to head the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. The new Commissioner and his Bureau successfully lobbied for the prohibition of marihuana just as the new hemp industry began to emerge as a potential threat to Du Pont’s business.[14]

As further confirmation of Du Pont’s intentions, Herer cited a Du Pont Annual Report from 1937.On the pages of this report, investment in the company was recommended by Du Pont’s chairman, who somehow foresaw that “radical changes from the revenue raising power of government would be converted into instruments for forcing acceptance of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reorganization.”[15] Herer acknowledged the previous statement as a signal from Du Pont’s chairman that the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was created to protect company interests. Apparently, Du Pont had patented processes and was developing others to make plastics from oil and coal, as well as paper pulp from wood. In all, these lucrative chemical patents accounted for eighty percent of Du Pont’s business during the following fifty-year period.This meant that Du Pont had billions at stake, which were invested in processes to derive cellulose from raw materials other than hemp. If hemp had remained legal, Du Pont would not have had the market cornered on cellulose-based industries. With these thoughts in mind, Herer suggested that Du Pont conspired with Mellon to eliminate the competition.[16]

In addition to Du Pont and Mellon, Herer also noted the significant role played by the nation’s largest publisher, the Hearst syndicate, in helping to create the fundamental story line about the new narcotic menace, marihuana. When the Bureau was created in 1930, it adopted views similar to those of Hearst, gave them the authority of the federal government, and paraded them before the public as the truth. According to Herer, Hearst’s brand of anti-marihuana journalism was initially influenced by his extreme prejudice toward Mexicans, African-Americans, and the jazz movement. However, later during the 1930s, Hearst recycled his old stories and used them as cover to protect his substantial financial interest in the paper industry.[17]

The second generation conspiracy thesis sheds new insight on the central question of this thesis: Why was marihuana demonized during the 1930s?Specifically, the idea of a conspiracy is intriguing.And new original research reveals virgin information which supports the conclusions of the second generation conspiracy thesis.[18] Evidently, during the 1930s, the idea that vested interests were exerting a controlling influence on the course of public policy was a serious topic both in the media and in the federal government.By the late 1920s, after a decade of Federal Trade Commission investigations into the lobbying activities of gigantic public utility holding companies, the truth about the corrupting influence of these vested interests was finally beginning to reach the public.[19] The methods of persuasions employed by the private concerns were as blatant as courting government officials to as subtle as distributing propaganda to school children and placing editorials in newspapers.Building on such revelations, an enormous money trust was uncovered in 1933. Du Pont and the Mellon Bank were both participants in this money trust, which was ultimately presided over by the nation’s most powerful banking house, J. P. Morgan & Company.[20]

At the height of these proceedings J. P. Morgan, Jr. appeared before the Senate Banking and Finance Committee Hearings and rendered the following opinion about the business of high finance.

“I state without hesitation that I consider the private banker a national asset and not a national danger.As to the theory that he may become too powerful, it must be remembered that any power which he has comes, not from the possession of large means, but from the confidence of the people in his character and credit, and that that power, having no force to back it, would disappear at once if people thought that the character had changed or the credit had diminished - not financial credit, but that which comes from the respect and esteem of the community.”[21]



Throughout the investigations, special prosecutor Ferdinand Pecora made a mockery of Morgan’s previous statement.From the testimony of the nation’s leading bankers and the analysis of their company’s records, Pecora revealed an intricate web of interlocking directorates among the nation’s leading banks and corporations.Based on his observations, Pecora suggested the existence of an economic monopoly of national proportions.

Such an accusation was a common theme among the reactionary elements of the day, who frequently alleged that the American economy was controlled by a “money trust.”What these reactionaries observed during the early 1930s was the grand culmination of the Morgan inspired movement to consolidate business interests. Theoretically, the resultant monopolies would create financial stability amidst the chaos of competition. However, in reality, the situation pandered to self-interest. By controlling the boards of the nation’s leading corporations and industry committees, certain banks, particularly J. P. Morgan & Company, were able to exert an invisible influence over the course of economic development in America. Monetary gain always preceded all other matters.22

The implicit irony between Morgan’s lofty statement and the actual truth about the American business environment has a very profound relevance to this particular inquiry; specifically, the idea that the power to influence events does not lie in financial means, but rather in the trust of the public. Irony pervades this naïve belief. In economics money directs the final outcome of events.Time and time again, the historical record clearly demonstrates that business interests have taken precedence over the mandates of moral majorities and the consideration of the public’s welfare.The case is no different when applied to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ campaign against marihuana. Certain industries controlled by the money trust stood to lose billions of dollars in revenue if the new hemp industry was successful.The innate desire to protect their business investments motivated the leaders of the threatened industries to seek the aid of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics to ensure the failure of the new hemp industry. Acting on these hidden motives, the Bureau implemented an educational propaganda campaign about the evils of marihuana. On the basis of the evidence presented by the Bureau, marihuana was effectively demonized in the minds of the American public and the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed by Congress. Together, the act of demonization and regulatory legislation destroyed the chances of the new hemp industry becoming established as a viable economy in America.

On the ensuing pages, an elaborate argument to support the main contention of this thesis, that the new hemp industry was politically assassinated by the money trust, will be presented.First, in order to justify the concept of demonization, which is central to this thesis, the history of the role of marihuana throughout the centuries in the world at large and in America, in particular, will be briefly provided. A thorough explanation of the origins of the new hemp industry will be included with this history. In the next section the material will trace the evolution of the marihuana issue in America.Continuing, the two previous sections will then be tied together and the focus will shift onto the final act of demonization, which resulted in the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.For the final two sections of this thesis, additional evidence in support of the main contention will be presented by analyzing the immediate repercussions of the Tax Act and the aftermath of prohibition. When finished, this thesis should have created a foundation for further detailed investigations of what is a uniquely American dilemma, the prohibition of marihuana because of the hemp plant’s economic promise.

Chapter One

An Old Path to a New Frontier




Over several millennia humanity and hemp have developed a unique symbiosis. During the twentieth century, however, certain dominant segments of American culture became avid proponents for the eradication of hemp from the face of this planet. These protagonists based their campaign on the premise that the cannabis plant posed a dangerous threat to humanity. Such a brazen assumption clearly contradicted the truth about the ageless symbiosis, that is that humanity benefited from the plant’s peculiar properties. However, because these protagonists have been in a dominant position, they have been able to induce the American public into believing otherwise and, as a result, the truth about the symbiosis between hemp and humanity has become a relic of cultural amnesia.

The long historical relationship between hemp and humanity is readily evident in the etymology of the plant’s names.Around 1000 AD, our English-speaking ancestors began to use the term hanf to designate what is known agriculturally as hemp.Earlier still, our Latin-speaking ancestors of the Roman Empire referred to the plant as cannabis. This latter term has since become the modern scientific term for the genus of the plant.In the Middle East, the Semitic cultures adapted the Latin cannabis into their own kannab. The civilizations of the Indian Peninsula named it ganja or bhang. The “an” and “ang” of these ancient Sanskirt words recur in the names of hemp in all the Indo-European and modern Semitic languages. Further East, in China the records of hemp date back to 2700 BC, when its name was Ma. Eventually, by 1000 AD, the Chinese renamed the plant Ta Ma, which meant the “great hemp,” to emphasize the plant’s value to their society.[22]

As this brief etymology attests, people have cultivated hemp since the dawn of civilization for the many benefits it bestows on humanity. Specifically, hemp provided people with fiber for textiles and paper; seed as a source of food and oil; and a psychoactive substance, which was used medicinally, religiously, and recreationally.Archaeologists have identified the remains of hemp seeds and fiber among the relics of Neolithic cultures which date back 10,000 years. The first historical mention of hemp in the Western world occurred in the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus when he stated:

“... I must mention that hemp grows in Scythia, a plant resembling flax, but much coarser and taller.It grows wild as well as under cultivation, and the Thracians make clothes from it very like linen ones - indeed, one must have much experience in these matters to be able to distinguish between the two, and anyone who has never seen a piece of cloth made from hemp, will suppose it to be of linen.”[23]



In the same passage, Herodotus described the funeral rites of the Scythians, a nomadic people from the Russian steppe.According to Herodotus’s account, the Scythians burned hemp seeds as incense. He noted further that the smoke produced a state of euphoria in those who came into contact with it.[24]

Throughout history, the plant’s psychoactive properties have consistently been incorporated into the rites of mystical religions throughout history. In Ancient Western Societies, the Mystery Religions of the Great Mother Goddess utilized hemp in their sacred rites. The use of the hemp’s psychoactive properties persisted in the West as a feature of pagan religions and medicines until the Inquisitions of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries formally outlawed the use of cannabis for religious and medicinal purposes. A few centuries later, Catholic dogma was firmly established by Pope Innocent VIII, when in 1484, he issued a precedent setting bull which clearly labeled the users of cannabis as heretics and worshippers of Satan.Despite persecution against the religious and medicinal use of the drug, hemp remained an agricultural staple in the West, where it was highly valued as a source of fiber and seed.[25] Ironically, after it was formally outlawed by the Pope in 1484, hemp took on a new historical importance.

By the sixteenth century, paper had become an integral part of Western civilization and hemp had made it all possible.The actual technique of making paper from hemp was an ancient Chinese secret. Buddhist documents from the third and fourth centuries AD are the oldest examples of paper. The ancient Chinese texts were printed on paper made primarily from a mixture of bark and old rags, which were mainly composed of hemp. With this formula for paper the Chinese became the first culture to mass produce books. One of the foremost experts on the history of paper making examined samples of the ancient Chinese book paper and found them to be 100 per cent hemp.In the eighth century, the Chinese art of paper making reached Persia and Arabia. Then, eventually, in 1150, the Moorish culture of Spain established the first paper mill in the West and by the sixteenth century the art of paper making was firmly established in Europe.[26]

During the Renaissance, the prolific French Humanist, François Rabelais (1495-1553), in his classic, The Histories of Gargantua and Pantagruel, proclaimed, “Without it [hemp] how could water be drawn from the well? What would scribes, copyists, secretaries, and writers do without it? Would not official documents and rent-rolls disappear? Would not the noble art of printing perish?”[27] The truths revealed in Rabelais’ previous statement extend beyond measure.There is no doubt that hemp played an active role in the history of the day. The great voyagers of the Age of Discovery relied on ropes and sails woven from hemp fibers to rig their ships. Once used, the sails were recycled and sold as rags to the paper manufacturers.The newspapers and pamphlets made from this paper fueled the democratic revolutions of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. Without hemp these revolutions might never have occurred. The same conclusions also apply to the evolution of capitalism and the pre-1870 phase of the Industrial Revolution.Both events relied on hemp as a source of canvas and rope for the rigging of trading vessels and as a source of paper for accounting ledgers, business contracts, and routine correspondence.[28]

In America, hemp was an agricultural staple from the very beginning. The Founding Fathers knew the value of hemp. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington cultivated hemp and wrote about its benefits. By 1810, hemp was America’s third largest agricultural commodity. Hemp fiber was in high demand among the producers of ropes and twines, linens and canvases, and even of paper. This demand led to the development of a strong industry in Kentucky, but like the other cash crops of pre-Civil War America, the Kentucky hemp industry was part of the Southern slave economy. Following the Civil War, the institution of slavery disappeared and the hemp industry was forced to pay for its labor. Initially, the new arrangement was feasible, but in time the winds of change forced the hemp industry to the brink of extinction. [29]

The force behind these winds of change was the Industrial Revolution. As this economic revolution evolved in America, it exerted a powerful influence on the course of the hemp industry. This influence was set into effect through the introduction of technological improvements. In particular, the new technology revolutionized the productive capacity of industries.Today this increase in productive capacity is referred to as mass production. The primary prerequisite for mass production was a cheap and plentiful supply of raw materials. In order to satisfy this prerequisite, the producers of raw materials invested heavily in the development of mechanical technology. The innovations of machinery allowed the producers to cut their cost of labor while they increased their output. Mass production in agriculture led to the establishment of large scale farming operations. The cultivation of hemp never adapted to the new market conditions of mass production which settled themselves into the fabric of post-Civil War America and, as a consequence, the cultivation of hemp steadily declined to the point where it had virtually disappeared by the close of the 1920s. Only two small business concerns in Wisconsin continued to cultivate hemp for its fiber.These firms survived on the production required by the United States Navy and by the 1930s this business had dwindled to approximately 1000 acres of hemp per year.[30]

From the context of Department of Agriculture reports, the most serious problem confronting the hemp industry as it entered the twentieth century was labor. Both the harvesting and processing of hemp were extremely labor intensive jobs. Once slavery was abolished after the Civil War, the cost of hiring labor caused the price of hemp to become uncompetitive in comparison with the lower prices offered for the fiber of other plants. The use of hemp fiber in clothing was being superseded by cotton and wool, both of which were more easily spun by machinery. Likewise, the use of hemp on ships had dramatically declined since the introduction of both wire cable ropes, which were stronger and lighter than ropes made from hemp, and by Manila hemp, abaca, which was lighter and more durable in salt water.Furthermore, since ships were no longer powered by the wind, sails composed of hemp canvas were no longer required.Finally, hemp fiber, even though hemp was superior in strength and durability, was also being forced off the market as a material for twines and carpet warps by cheaper jute fiber.[31]

The same cycle of extinction occurred in the manufacturing of paper from recycled hemp rags. In the 1840s, the Germans developed a process of producing paper from trees. At the time the new technique was hailed as a breakthrough. Historically, a short supply of rags had kept the price of paper relatively high. The German technique offered a cheap formula for converting raw cellulose from a seemingly endless supply of trees into paper. This new method quickly became established in the northeastern section of the United States, where there was an abundance of trees and water power to supply and operate the paper mills. Once harnessed, the free power and the abundant supply of trees allowed the paper manufacturers to offer larger quantities of their product at lower prices.[32]

In a relatively short time, the demands of mass production severely depleted naturally occurring supplies of raw material. Guided by the obvious conclusion, that the supply of trees would eventually be exhausted, scientists began to discuss the possibility of developing alternate sources for the production of paper. Among the alternate sources, hemp was considered to be a favorable possibility from the outset. In 1908, the Department of Agriculture published a circular, Papermaking Materials and their Conservation, which suggested the use of hemp as an alternative source.[33] Two years later, in 1910, the Department of Agriculture published an article, “Utilization of Crop Plants in Paper Making,” in their annual Yearbook. At the beginning of a specific section titled, “Plants That May Be Grown as Paper Crops,” the author presented the following statement:

“In addition to the waste materials that are available, evidence has been gathered that certain crops can probably be grown at a profit to both the grower and manufacturer, solely for paper-making purposes.One of the most promising of these is hemp.”[34]


The previous suggestion was repeated again in a Department of Agriculture Circular, Crop Plants for Papermaking, which was published in 1911.[35]

Along with this early governmental recognition, hemp also received some attention in technical publications.The earliest study was published in a 1904 edition of the Pulp Paper Magazine of Canada.[36] The title of this study was “Paper from Refuse Hemp Stalks.”It reported very favorably on the prospects of utilizing hemp. Two years later the same magazine published another study, “Hemp Waste for Paper,” which reiterated the conclusions of the previous study.[37] The private research continued and, in 1908, another article was published which stated that hemp was the second best plant material after cotton to use for the production of paper.[38]

Eventually, the Department of Agriculture sanctioned an official inquiry into the economic potential of producing paper made from hemp. In 1916, the Department of Agriculture issued Bulletin No. 404, Hemp Hurds as a Paper-Making Material, a collection of individually authored scientific articles.[39] The first study, written by Dr. Lyster H. Dewey, titled, “The Production and Handling of Hemp Hurds,” explained that the hurd was the woody inner portion of the hemp stalk. Hurds were only produced in a collectable quantity and fashion when the hemp was broken by a machine break. This new technology had been introduced around 1912, and, since then, it had been used to a limited extent in Kentucky. Among the processors of hemp it was customary to discard the hurds as waste material and, consequently, large piles of hurds had accumulated. According to Dr. Dewey’s estimates, 7000 tons were available to be sold in 1916, for which the farmer could receive from $4 to $6 per ton.[40]

The second paper, “The Manufacturing of Paper from Hemp Hurds,” was written by Jason L. Merrill, a Department of Agriculture paper-plant chemist. He opened his report by stating that his purpose was to investigate the use of hemp hurds for the production of paper. Given the conditions of the current paper market, Merrill humbly acknowledged that the feasibility of his proposal would be governed by the condition that hemp-based paper could be produced more economically than wood-pulp paper.When Bulletin No. 404 was issued in 1916, hemp was not being extensively grown. As a result, the supply of hurds was so small that it was uneconomical for the farmers to market them to paper mills.Consequently, Merrill felt that it would be impossible for hemp to gain a foothold in the current paper market.[41]

At the same time, Merrill also astutely observed the rapidly dwindling supply of timber, and noted that there would be a need for alternative wood sources in the future, especially since the forests were being cut three times as fast as they were growing. One solution to the problem was reforestation, but based on Merrill’s own research, such a solution would prove to be inadequate. Over time, the diminishing supply of wood pulp would lead to increased prices and provide an opening for alternative sources on the market.Based on this assumption, Merrill believed that hemp could become a practical alternative if necessary.[42] Continuing, Merrill proceeded to explain that:

“Every tract of 10,000 acres which is devoted to hemp raising year by year is equivalent to a sustained pulp-producing capacity of 40,500 acres of average pulp-wood lands. In other words, in order to secure additional raw materials for the production of 25 tons of fiber per day there exists the possibility of utilizing the agricultural waste already produced on 10,000 acres of hemp lands instead of securing, holding, reforesting, and protecting 40,500 acres of pulp-wood lands.”[43]



Despite his studies and these promising statistics, Merrill did not openly argue for increasing the cultivation of hemp.Instead, he realistically emphasized the fact that paper manufacturers could only afford to purchase hurds from the hemp industry, which in its current state did not produce enough hurds to make such a venture economical for either party.[44]

With the future in mind, Merrill still conducted extensive experiments.During his investigations he produced twenty-four different pulps from the hurds which he deemed suitable for the production of paper.With these different pulps he then began to produce paper which eventually led him to the following conclusions:

“After several trials, under conditions of treatment and manufacture which are regarded as favorable in comparison with those used with pulpwood, paper was produced which received very favorable comment both from investigators and from the trade and which according to official tests would be classed a No. 1 machine-finishing paper.”[45]



Certainly, with this statement Merrill effectively suggested that in the future and under different circumstances hemp might be considered a very good raw material source for the production of paper.But, during 1916, he did not believe such a development was possible.[46]

Examining Bulletin No. 404 in retrospect, it does not appear that the report was published with the intention of being promotional. Aside from scattered abstracts published in five issues of professional journals, Bulletin No. 404 was not accompanied by any sort of general media attention when it was released in 1916.[47] Furthermore, there was never any serious activity within or outside the hemp industry to develop a market for the hurds after its release.The lack of response should come as no great surprise because the hemp industry was merely a fraction of what it used to be and, in 1916, there was not a problem with the supply of wood pulp.[48]

Despite the prevailing abundance of cheap wood pulp paper, further research was still conducted during the twenties regarding the utilization of alternative sources.Not suprisingly, hemp continued to be considered as a possibility among the research community. In 1919, the work of two German scientists C. G. Schwalbe and Ernest Becker titled, “The Chemical Composition of Flax and Hemp Chaff,” was published in two prominent technical journals.[49] According to this study, the chemical composition of hemp chaff, or waste, was suitable for the production of paper.These observations were analyzed further in 1921, when another study was produced by two more German scientists B. Rassow and A. Zschenderlein.This new study was titled, “Nature of Hemp Wood.”[50] According to an abstract of the study which appeared in the Paper Trade Journal, hemp seemed to possess very favorable characteristics for the production of paper pulp.[51]

The mere fact that this information was available to the public tends to suggest that hemp would have been readily recognized as an experimentally successful type of alternative source for the production of paper among interested parties. This observation proves to be extremely relevant because by the mid-1920s, research into utilization of farm wastes as an alternate source for the production of paper surfaced as a serious topic on the federal level.The possibility of utilizing hemp for the production of paper was intimately related to the ensuing Congressional debate regarding farm waste as an alternative source.[52]

With respect to the open-ended definition of farm waste, it is interesting to recall that the hurds of hemp were considered to be farm waste in the Department of Agriculture’s Bulletin No. 404.[53] Furthermore, several technical journals had reported favorably about utilizing hemp waste for the production of paper. In fact, some of the earliest articles on this topic bore titles such as “Paper from Refuse Hemp Stalks” and “Hemp Waste for Paper.”[54] Clearly, any definition of farm waste also included hemp.It is extremely doubtful that any party expressing an interest in utilizing farm wastes would have failed to make this connection.To assume otherwise would be to assume that they were uninformed about the finer aspects of their business.

Another possible alternative source which was specifically referred to during the debates and in the majority of the newspaper articles about farm wastes was flax.[55] These references provide further evidence linking hemp to the alternative source debate. During the 1920s, a total of sixteen articles were published in technical paper trade journals which investigated the utilization of flax as an alternative source for the production of paper.[56] In September, 1929, during the 78th meeting of the American Chemical Society in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a study was presented, titled “Physical and Chemical Characteristics of Hemp Stalks and Seed Flax Straw.”[57] Previously, the authors, E. R. Schafer and F. A. Simmonds, had been studying the utilization of flax for the production of paper.Noting the similarities between hemp and flax, the authors explored the existing literature regarding the production of paper from hemp.Based on their analysis of the existing literature, Schafer and Simmonds concluded that hemp possessed very favorable properties and that further research into the utilization of the plant for the production of paper was warranted.[58] Given the context of this assessment, it seems safe to assume that individuals with an interest in alternative sources would have recognized the possibility of utilizing hemp whenever flax was mentioned.

Eventually, the topic of developing farm wastes as an alternative source for the production of paper caught the attention of Washington. On January 25, 1927, during the second session of the Sixty-Ninth Congress, Representative Cyrenus Cole from Iowa, took the House floor and introduced legislation calling for a $50,000 appropriation for the Bureau of Standards to conduct research into the utilization of farm waste on a commercial basis. Opening his speech, Representative Cole posed the following set of questions to his audience: “... Can we not make something out of these wastes? Can these vast wastes be utilized? Is there anything that we can make out of them?” Then he answered:

“... I have been studying such problems ever since I have been in Congress. During all my time here we have had what we know as our farm problems.I have been thinking that we could in part solve some of these problems by making more things out of our products.

To me the farm problem is almost more industrial than agricultural... I believe the farm must be coupled with the factory and the factory with the farm... We must find more uses for our so-called raw products.”[59]



Through his quest to combine agriculture and industry, Representative Cole came into contact with the work being conducted at Iowa College. According to the Congressman, scientists at the College had successfully converted farm waste into industrial products, ranging from valuable chemicals to print paper and substitutes for lumber.[60]

After consulting with officials from the College about this news, Representative Cole was told that all that was lacking was practical research on a commercial basis. Apparently, the College did not have the facilities to conduct experimentation of this nature. Recognizing the need to continue this promising avenue of research, Representative Cole formed the idea of involving the Bureau of Standards. With this plan in mind he took the initiative and invited Iowa College’s chief engineering chemist, Dr. O. R. Sweeney, and the college president, Herman Knapp, to Washington, and introduced them to Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, who scheduled a meeting for all with Dr. George K. Burgess, the Director of the Bureau of Standards. At this meeting, Dr. Burgess informed those in attendance that the Bureau was already investigating the utilization of farm wastes for industrial purposes and that he had even discussed such achievements and possibilities in his own annual report of 1926. Through this conference, Representative Cole was able to impress the importance of developing research on the utilization of farm wastes for industrial purposes and secure the approval of the Bureau of the Budget for an appropriation of $50,000 for the Bureau of Standards to continue its investigations.[61]

On January 25, 1927, Representative Cole presented his $50,000 appropriation bill on the floor of House.According to his data, the production of paper pulp offered the greatest possibility for commercial success with farm wastes.In particular, he argued that the Bureau of Standards possessed the necessary facilities to adequately proceed with commercial experimentation in the production of paper pulp.At the same time, he stressed the fact that the supply of wood pulp was rapidly diminishing and that the United States then imported the majority of its paper from Canada.Given the current situation, he opined it was inevitable that as the natural reserves of wood were depleted the price of paper produced from wood pulp would increase. The successful research into the utilization of farm wastes, specifically cornstalks, held out a realistic solution to the problem of maintaining a constant supply of raw materials. If allowed to develop, Representative Cole claimed that markets for farm waste to paper pulp producers could bring the farmers from $4 to $5 per ton for what was presently considered waste material.[62] This figure was extremely close to the $4 to $6 per ton which Dr. Dewey had estimated in 1916, when he discussed the possibility of developing markets for hemp waste.[63]

Significantly, Representative Cole introduced this appropriation bill during the midst of an agricultural depression. After the First World War, European agriculture recovered and recaptured markets which had been assumed by the American farmers. The loss of markets was coupled with increasing levels of production.The net effect was a decline in agricultural prices. By the mid-1920s, a serious depression had commenced among the American agricultural community and it was directly linked to overproduction.Representative Cole’s idea was to develop new markets for the farmers in order to relieve them from the pressure of declining prices.This proposal was the first truly logical alternative to the agricultural depression.Specifically he reasoned:

“Our farm problems arise from what I may call an unbalance.For two generations, or ever since the enactment of the homestead laws and the land grant college laws, we have been stressing production. Under these enactments we have thrown open vast new areas of fertile lands and we have applied every effort to the increase of production. We now find that we can have overproduction, and overproduction creates the surplus that we are now trying to deal with.

We must now put the stress on the other end.I mean on marketing and consumption.We paid all too little attention to these essential things in the equation of prosperity. We must find new markets, and new markets may not mean going across the seas with shiploads of our products but in finding new uses for the abundant crops... The industrialization of agriculture, I repeat, is at the present time the one most important thing lacking and therefore the one most important thing we should be seeking.”[64]



Evidently, the rest of Congress agreed with Representative Cole’s assessment of the situation because they voted for the appropriation.

Before the legislation was finalized, though, the Department of Agriculture caused the appropriation to be stricken from the bill on the grounds that the federal funding was a duplication of investigations already being conducted by the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Forestry and Forest Products. This hostile and uncooperative posture toward the small appropriation of $50,000 seems strange since the Bureau of Forestry did not specifically investigate farm waste. However, this agency did conduct experiments in search of alternative types of wood to use for the production of paper. Based on the similarities between the research project proposed by Representative Cole and those already being conducted by the Bureau of Forestry, the Department of Agriculture succeeded in having the appropriation dropped from the record. Upon discovering this action Secretary Hoover notified President Calvin Coolidge of the dilemma. Following the advice of Secretary Hoover, the President reinstated the appropriation through an executive order. By 1927, the Bureau of Standards began to seriously investigate the possibility of utilizing farm wastes for the manufacture of industrial products, such as paper and building materials.[65]

The following year, during the second session of the Seventieth Congress, Thomas Schall, a blind Republican Senator from Minnesota, introduced new alternative source legislation. His bill, S. 4834, was a requisition for appropriations to build manufactories in parts of the country where farm wastes could be easily secured, and then, once built, to demonstrate the commercial practicability of making high-grade writing paper, newsprint paper, compo board, insulating board, and wall board. Among the possible farm wastes cited by the Senator were cornstalks, straw, and sugar cane.According to Senator Schall, it was not unreasonable to help provide the American farmer with the opportunity to use what had previously been considered waste material for the production of industrial goods. During the course of the debate for S. 4834, Senator Schall printed an article in the Congressional Record which made a direct reference to hemp as a possible alternative source.[66] Even though this article was the only direct reference to hemp, it still provides solid proof that hemp was recognized as an alternative source.

Senator Schall presented a wealth of information in support of developing markets for alternative sources, but during the second session of the Seventieth Congress his legislation never made it past committee. Despite this defeat, the Senator continued the fight into the next session of Congress and introduced another bill “authorizing an appropriation to encourage the utilization of farm waste for the production of paper by aiding farmers and local chambers of commerce to develop the manufacturing of paper pulp from waste crops.”[67] This new bill, S. 561, was essentially the same as S. 4834 which the Senator had introduced during the previous session of Congress.Like its predecessor S. 561 died in committee.

Further alternative source legislation was presented in the first session of the Seventy-First Congress by Senator Daniel Steck from Iowa. On May 13, 1929, Senator Steck introduced S. 1 as an amendment to the pending farm relief bill. The Steck amendment was a more elaborate version of S. 561, calling for a government board to make loans to cooperative associations of up to $25,000,000 for the purpose of “assisting the cooperative association in the acquisition by purchase, construction, or otherwise, of facilities and equipment for the preparing, handling, storing, processing, and sale of cornstalks, wheat, oat, and rice straw, cotton stalks, cane stalks, and other like agricultural commodities.”[68] Despite the Senator’s insistence, the rest of Congress did not feel that there was a need to create a separate amendment. Instead, an agreement was reached that interested parties could apply for loans through a subsection of the pending farm relief legislation.[69] Not surprisingly, no action was taken on behalf of developing farm waste industries for the farmer in any of the subsequent Congresses.

At the time of the alternative source debate, hemp never received any serious attention because it was virtually extinct as an agricultural commodity and, therefore, yielded little farm waste.However, the lack of cultivation does not mean that interested parties were not aware of the potential benefits offered by the plant in relation to the on going search for alternative sources.For example, during 1930, the Paper Trade Journal ran an article which recapitulated the previous literature regarding the possibility of utilizing hemp for the manufacturing of paper. The material of this article also served as a topic of discussion during the 78th meeting of the American Chemical Society held between September 9 and 13, 1929.[70] Thus, based on these opportunities of awareness, it would be extremely difficult to suggest that parties interested in developing alternative sources were unaware of hemp’s unique paper producing properties.

The previous observation is particularly relevant since the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry issued a formal warning against the promotion of large-scale hemp cultivation in 1931, with reference to activity which had occurred during the past season of 1930.[71] Evidently, the promoters cited by the Bureau of Plant Industry were advertising the potential of decorticating machinery to revolutionize the hemp industry.This new technology was critical to developing hemp as an alternative source for the production of cellulose.[72] Apparently, the promotional efforts continued, because, in 1933, the new hemp industry became an economic reality.The primary force behind the new commercial activity was Frank E. Holton.[73]

According to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ records, Holton appeared in Mankato, Minnesota, in 1933, armed with an impressive array of statistics regarding the cultivation of hemp.Prior to his involvement with the commercial hemp industry, Holton had been a cashier at the Northwestern National Bank in Minneapolis.By 1917, he had moved on to “greener pastures,” to become a participant in several speculative ventures during the 1920s.Eventually, during the early 1930s, he came into contact with Harry W. Bellrose, the President of the World Fibre Corporation, which was located in Chicago, Illinois.In addition, to being the president of this company, Bellrose was also the owner of the patent for the new Selvig hemp decorticating machine.[74] Furthermore, Bellrose was a very active promoter of hemp as a raw material source for the production of paper, as well as other cellulose based industrial products such as artificial textiles, explosives, and plastics.[75] After their meeting, Holton became interested in the prospects of the commercial hemp industry and purchased the patent rights to the Selvig machine within the state of Minnesota.[76]

From the start, the National Citizens Bank of Mankato was very active in rendering assistance to Holton in his venture.Two members of the Bank’s board of directors invested quite extensively in the new business enterprise.On October 3, 1933, the Northwest Hemp Corporation was organized under the laws of the state of Minnesota.According to the certificate of incorporation, the purpose of the new company was “to encourage and develop the growth of hemp and flax fibre plants, and to enter into contracts with growers for the planting of such products; to engage in the manufacture and distribution of hemp and flax fibre and to own and operate factories to handle and decorticate all such fibre plants, etc.”[77]

In the spring of 1934, farmers planted the first crop of hemp for the new industry. The growing area was divided among three localities, Blue Earth, Mankato, and Lake Lillian. Decorticating machines were installed in each of the areas to facilitate the processing of the hemp after the harvest. When the time came to harvest the first crop, the inexperience of the farmers and organizers became readily apparent.First, Holton failed to supply the farmers with suitable harvesting machinery and second, the hemp was not allowed to ret (to soak to loosen the fiber from the woody hurd) properly before it was decorticated. Furthermore, the decorticating machines were not working as efficiently as Holton would have liked.[78] Despite these problems, the company still harvested a total of 6500 acres of hemp. This figure quadrupled the amount of hemp harvested by all other commercial hemp enterprises in 1934.[79]

Over the winter of 1934-35, Holton was able to keep interest alive in the hemp project. Farmers in the Blue Earth and Mankato localities still had a surplus of unprocessed hemp left from the previous year, and therefore they declined to grow in 1935. In their place, Holton was able to convince the farmers in the Lake Lillian area to grow 2000 acres of hemp. This time, there were no difficulties with the harvest, but again the hemp was not allowed to ret and the decorticating machines were still not working properly.After the harvest in 1935, the Northwest Hemp Corporation had accumulated between 8000 and 10,000 acres of unprocessed hemp.The surplus was left in shocks in the fields.[80]

Stockholders began to grow impatient with the succession of failures in 1935. The directors of the National Citizens Bank of Mankato started a movement to oust Holton from his position as the company’s president.The endeavor met with failure because Holton retained control of the stock and the principal assets, such as the promissory notes and the lien on the hemp still in the fields. While the company was in midst of this turmoil, M. J. Connolly, of New York, entered the picture in the fall of 1935.He had been involved in the promotion of fiber companies prior to his arrival upon the scene in Southern Minnesota.Along the way Connolly had acquired several patents for utilizing hemp fiber and its by-products, the hurds, for the production of raw cellulose.[81] The specific patents possessed by Connolly were not identified in any documents, but they reportedly described processes for deriving raw cellulose from hemp. Interestingly, there are approximately six American patents and six European patents dating from 1925 to 1935, which deal with the derivation of raw cellulose from hemp.Some of the patents also described the manufacture of paper pulp and plastics.[82]

Before long, Connolly’s schemes to use hemp for the production of raw cellulose attracted the attention of Joseph H. Gunderson, an officer of the Blue Earth State Bank located in Blue Earth, Minnesota, who was one of the original subscribers to the hemp venture, and V. A. Batzner, an officer of the Citizens National Bank of Mankato.More importantly, though, the plans interested Frank Holton.On October 3, 1935, the Northwest Hemp Corporation was restructured as the National Cellulose Corporation.The new company was a joint venture in which Holton controlled the finances and Connolly presided over the operations.[83]

Once the negotiations were completed, Connolly began working on the new project. His first order of business was to install new machinery. After this task was completed, he began to process the hemp, turning out tons of pulverized hurds.Shortly thereafter, it became apparent that the operation was an exercise in futility because no one could be found to purchase the processed hurds. To make matters worse, a government cellulose expert visited the operation and reported that “Connolly had no idea what he was doing.”[84] After this assessment, Connolly’s venture folded and he left town.The company still existed, but it was forced to change its name to the Hemp Chemical Corporation, because its previous name was already taken by another corporation from the East.[85]

Meanwhile, during 1935, two new commercial concerns had started operations in Nebraska and Illinois.The cultivation in Nebraska was conducted by the Nebraska Fiber Corporation, which was located in the vicinity of Harrington.It was a short-lived operation only lasting until 1936.[86] The other new area of hemp cultivation was Illinois.During 1934, a fifty-acre tract of land was purchased by the Ball Brothers, mason jar manufacturers from Muncie, Indiana, and the Sloan Brothers, carpet manufacturers from New York City.Together they formed the Amhempco Corporation which was incorporated under the laws of New Jersey. The buildings on the land purchased by the Amhempco Corporation had been used for the production of paper from cornstalks by a previous venture.Obviously, the former company had not survived, but while it was in operation it had been involved in an effort to adapt alternative sources other than wood for use in the production of paper.[87] Considering the fact that the Amhempco Corporation purchased the site of the original operation, the new owners undoubtedly had a similar purpose in mind.

The Amhempco Corporation contracted to grow a crop of hemp for the 1935 season. The total acreage of this crop was 4200 acres.[88] What happened following the harvest of this crop is not exactly clear, but apparently some of the hemp was processed. With this processed hemp, the company conducted experiments in an attempt to derive raw cellulose, but they were a failure because the two original investors were unwilling to provide sufficient funds for equipment and experimentation.[89] The remainder of the hemp grown during 1935 was stored on the premises of the company.[90]

A significant commercial resurgence within the hemp industry occurred during the mid-1930s, primarily because of the economic potential of hemp as an alternate source for the production of paper.After the harvest of the 1935 crop, there was a certain sense of anticipation in the air.The timeless symbiotic relationship shared between hemp and humanity was evolving into the modern age.As if they were following an old path, scientists and entrepreneurs returned to hemp and discovered new frontiers of economic potential.This new frontier became a reality with the new hemp industry. It was a natural process in the evolution of the human-hemp symbiosis.However, just as this new frontier was being established in 1935, the hemp industry confronted a new problem which led to its eventual demise. The source of this new problem was the sudden and inexplicable media campaign against the use of marihuana which the Federal Bureau of Narcotics initiated in 1935.

Chapter Two

The Evolution of the Marihuana Issue in America



In 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics inaugurated a media campaign to bring the drug marihuana under the control of federal legislation.Over the next seven years the Bureau gradually built a case against the new drug. According to the Bureau, marihuana use was a threat of national proportions.Backed by an arsenal of statistics, the Bureau proceeded to inform the public of the impending danger and to recommend that the cultivation of marihuana be prohibited in this country, claiming that such action was its sworn duty. This claim is very strange because, prior to 1930, the issue of marihuana had never been considered to be of national importance.In fact, the available evidence suggests that there was never a true problem with marihuana. The reality of this observation is self-evident from the name, marihuana, which was nothing more than a localized-Mexican colloquialism for cannabis or hemp: the same plant which had evolved in a unique symbiosis with humanity throughout history. A simple examination tracing the evolution of the marihuana issue reveals that the Bureau’s campaign to prohibit marihuana lacked both a historical and a scientific precedent. The importance of this fact is crucial to the present hypothesis, that marihuana was demonized because of the hemp plant’s economic potential, because, without a historical or scientific precedent, the Bureau was without a valid motive for the action it took against marihuana.

Ironically, the same drug denoted by the term, marihuana, appears to have had a long and illustrious history of religious, recreational, and medicinal use among many different cultures.Knowledge of the drug disappeared in the West during the Middle Ages, but it persisted in the East.In the eighteenth century, the British encountered the Indian customs of using bhang, charas, and ganja, all of which were cannabis drugs.British officials stationed in India claimed that the Indian use of cannabis drugs caused insanity, crime, and violent behavior among the native population. Based on these allegations, the colonial governors typically lobbied for prohibitive legislation, but the home government always investigated the charges against cannabis and never found any evidence to support the claims of their officials.[91]

During the nineteenth century, more middle and upper class British migrated to India as employees of the great trading companies and the home government. This new wave of foreign administrators associated the Indian custom of using cannabis drugs with the dismal conditions of life among the lower classes of India. Over time, this economically biased and racist assumption caught the attention of officials back in England who were members of the Temperance League.In 1893, these Progressively-minded officials lobbied for the formation of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission to determine whether or not cannabis drugs should be prohibited in India.After a year of painstaking observation and questioning, the commission produced a comprehensive report on the use of cannabis drugs. Despite the rumors, no serious problems were found to exist with the consumption of cannabis drugs and, consequently, the commission advised against prohibition.[92]

Earlier in the nineteenth century, the medicinal use of cannabis was rediscovered by a physician in the British Army, W. B. O’Shaugnessy. While stationed in India’s Bengal province, Dr. O’Shaugnessy observed Indian doctors using cannabis medicines to cure a number of illnesses and diseases untreatable in the West. Based on his firsthand experience, Dr. O’Shaugnessy published a forty-page paper in 1839 on the therapeutic properties of cannabis. This study resurrected the medicinal use of the drug in the West.[93] By the turn of the century, the extract of cannabis had become a main ingredient in many simple patent medicines. Eventually, the U.S. Department of Agriculture even published a circular about the cultivation of cannabis, for farmers interested in selling the crop to the pharmaceutical industry during the 1920s.[94] Significantly, until the late 1930s, cannabis medicines were available at local drug stores throughout the nation.[95]

The medicinal use of cannabis first received federal recognition in 1906, under the Pure Food and Drug Act.Inspired by the Progressive ideology of the day, the legislators required that the ingredients of all medicines be printed on a label for the public to view. During the years following the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, lobbying was initiated for stricter legislation which eventually culminated in the passage of the Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914.At first, legislators included cannabis under the provisions of the act, but a formidable lobby arose and challenged the initial decision to include cannabis. This lobby was led by doctor and pharmacist associations, such as the American Medical Association and the National Association of Retail Druggists.During a 1911 hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Charles A. West, testifying for the National Wholesale Druggist Association, stated that cannabis was not habit inducing like the derivatives of the opiates and coca products.[96] Testimony like West’s caused Congress to drop cannabis from the provisions of the Act. In 1914, there was not a problem with cannabis drugs, otherwise, the politicians would have passed the Harrison Act in its original form.

Nevertheless, between 1914 and 1931, local movements succeeded in lobbying twenty-nine states, seventeen of which were west of the Mississippi River, for the passage of ordinances banning the non-medicinal use of marihuana.[97] Initially, anti-marihuana legislation was sought in the Southwest.Local law enforcement officials spread rumors claiming that the use of marihuana among the Mexican population caused crime and induced violent behavior. Laws were easily passed on the basis of these rumors on the state and local level. The true motivation for such legislation was the oppression of the Mexican immigrants, who used marihuana. Later, during the 1920s, the use of marihuana became established in many cities as part of the African-American inspired jazz scene. The cultural revolution occurring within the jazz scene frightened Progressives, who hastily labeled marihuana a narcotic drug and lobbied for its prohibition. Throughout this period of time, from 1914 to 1931, local and state movements against the use of marihuana continuously failed to prove that there was anything harmful or dangerous about the drug. Instead, the movements were ultimately motivated by xenophobia and driven by the Progressive desire to correct society’s ills.

In 1914, El Paso, Texas, became the first location in America to pass legislation prohibiting the cultivation, importation, and use of marihuana.[98] The basis for this legislation typified the emerging attitude of the American Southwest toward the Mexican custom of smoking marihuana.Situated on the border, El Paso was a major center of interaction between America and Mexico.The Mexican immigrants were part of an economic underclass which lived in perpetual poverty. They were ruthlessly exploited by American capitalists who employed them as labors at sub-minimum wage. During the first quarter of this century, many Americans were economically displaced by the influx of half a million Mexican immigrants into the job market.[99] Small farmers and labor unions were particularly threatened by the Mexicans who were hired at significantly cheaper wages by the larger commercial farming operations and local industries. Animosity developed as Americans lost jobs to the Mexicans. In time, the Americans discovered the Mexican custom of smoking marihuana, and, shortly thereafter, local authorities started a rumor that the drug caused crime and violence among the Mexican population.[100]

The origin of this rumor appears to have been a common Mexican saying, “Esta ya ledio las tres” (“you take it three times”).According to local folklore, the first smoke induced a feeling of well-being; the second caused extreme elation coupled with activity; and the third supposedly made the smoker oblivious to danger, quarrelsome, delirious, destructive, and conscious of superhuman strength.[101] Given such a reputation, marihuana quickly became a source of concern among local law enforcement officials. Unfortunately, in their haste to control a potential problem, local officials failed to take into account the dismal socio-economic conditions which confronted the Mexican immigrants in America. Rather than face reality, local officials were motivated by the political expediency of a scapegoat like marihuana as they blamed the problems of crime and violence in the Mexican communities on the drug.By example, the following statement from a law enforcement officer stationed in the Southwest typified the emerging attitude toward marihuana: “Under its baseful influence reckless men become bloodthirsty, terribly daring, and dangerous to an uncontrollable degree.”[102]

This type of racist and socio-economic bigotry spread like a contagious virus and it was the principal reason for the trend of anti-marihuana legislation on the state level, as well as the main rallying cry of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics for federal legislation against marihuana. Ironically, there was not a vapor of truth to any of the claims that the use of marihuana caused crime and violence. The veracity of the previous statement was a well known fact among the experts, but for some reason the truth was ignored through the whole period. For instance, in 1926, after about a decade of contact with El Paso, Dr. W. W. Stockberger of the Bureau of Plant Industry, explained that his agency’s knowledge about marihuana did not concur with the reports they had been receiving from El Paso. In fact, Dr. Stockberger’s description of the effects of marihuana contradicted the claim that marihuana induced violent behavior among users.He stated, “The reported effects of the drug on Mexicans, making them want to ‘clean up the town,’ do not jibe very well with the effects of cannabis, which so far as we have reports, simply causes temporary elation, followed by depression and heavy sleep.”[103]

Regardless of the truth, the authorities from El Paso were driven by their xenophobia to issue a complaint against marihuana to the federal government in 1915. Chiefly, the complaint urged for stricter regulations against the importation of marihuana from Mexico.[104] And, despite its blatantly racist overtone, Dr. Alsberg (no first name given), the Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry, brought the complaint to the attention of the Secretary of Agriculture, who hastily presented an official request to the Secretary of Treasury. On September 25, 1915, a ban on the importation of marihuana for other than medicinal purposes was promptly implemented in Treasury Decision 35719.[105]

Two years later, Dr. Alsberg dispatched his personal assistant, Reginald Smith, on a tour of eleven cities located along the southwestern border with Mexico. While he was on this tour Smith gathered information and conducted interviews regarding Treasury Decision 35719. Through this process, Smith discovered that marihuana was used infrequently for various medicinal purposes, such as child-birth, asthma, and gonorrhea among the Mexicans of “low birth.” He also found that, although, the drug was widely smoked for recreational purposes by the Mexicans as well as some “Negroes” and “lower class whites.”The total demand for the drug was easily met by local cultivation, street sales, and by general availability at grocery and drug stores. In his final assessment, Smith claimed that the drug was injurious to the health of the smoker and often caused the user to commit heinous crimes.[106] Closer inspection reveals that Smith based his grand assumptions on second-hand information, which he had gathered during interviews conducted with biased local officials who provided no first-hand evidence to support their testimony. Simply put, Smith’s report lacked scientific credibility. This deficiency did not deter Smith from concluding that Treasury Decision 35719 was completely ineffective. And, in its place, he suggested that the more stringent Harrison Act be amended to include cannabis. Congress, however, ignored the alleged problem.[107]

Meanwhile, by 1916, American military authorities stationed in the Panama Canal Zone began to suspect that army personnel were smoking marihuana. Eventually, in 1925, a formal committee was convened to investigate the alleged Canal Zone marihuana problem.[108] And, after a series of firsthand experiments as well as an extensive examination of personal testimony and military files, the committee reached the following conclusion: “There is no evidence that marihuana as grown and used here is a ‘habit-forming’ drug in the sense in which the term is applied to alcohol, opium, *******, etc., or that it has any appreciably deleterious influence on the individual using it.”[109] Ironically, the native custom of smoking marihuana in Panama was the same as the Mexican custom, but the truth remained classified and hidden from the public.

Mexicans were not the only scapegoats in the early efforts to prohibit the use of marihuana. African-Americans in the lower class communities of New Orleans had long enjoyed marihuana as a recreational pastime.Originally, the drug had been introduced by Caribbean sailors and West Indian immigrants. They passed the custom on to the African-Americans.Marihuana cigarettes, commonly known as reefers, were ritually smoked by the African-American musicians who created blues and jazz. Their music acted like a catalyst stimulating a positive cultural interaction between the African-Americans who shared their music, and the Latinos and whites who joined the jazz scene because of an admiration for the music. During the 1920s, jazz became a cultural phenomenon and quickly spread from New Orleans to other urban centers and, naturally, the use of marihuana followed the music.Jazz quarters soon became established in the midst of the nation’s inner cities, where crime and violence were perpetual problems.Local officials, searching for simplistic causation, blamed the endemic inner city crime and violence, not on the depressed socio-economic conditions of the lower class who lived in the troubled areas, but rather on their use of marihuana. This urban trend, to blame the woes of the inner city on the use of marihuana, was strikingly similar to the scenario which had unfolded in the Southwest, except, that in the cities the anti-marihuana fight gained a new perspective. Specifically, agitators deliberately classified marihuana as a narcotic.[110]

Earlier in the century, Progressives sought to prohibit the use of opiates and coca products because of their addictive properties. To support their goals, Progressives created the negative terminology of narcotics and cast the addict in the role of society’s most evil criminal. Eventually, the Harrison Narcotic Act was passed in 1914, based on the lobbying of the Progressives. Cannabis drugs were specifically omitted from the list of substances controlled by the Harrison Narcotics Act because they did not produce the negative effects commonly attributed to other narcotics.However, during the 1920s, marihuana was informally labeled a narcotic. This strategy first emerged in New Orleans and then later it surfaced in Chicago.Both of these cities possessed large and popular jazz quarters in which the smoking of marihuana was widespread.The Progressive majority of the predominantly WASP middle- and upper-class America generally feared the cultural revolution occurring on the jazz scene. Consequently, local officials seized the political opportunity to label marihuana a narcotic and campaign against the evils of the drug on the basis of the public’s prejudices.[111] Such action demonstrated their adherence to the ideological tenets of Progressivism and translated into easy votes in the future.As with the scenario in the Southwest, there was a total disregard for the objective truth about marihuana in the urban movements.

Further misinformation about marihuana evolved separately from the Southwestern and urban movements during the first part of the twentieth century. Among the wealthier classes a new type of recreational drug, hashish, became popular. This drug was produced from the resin of the female hemp plant’s flowers and, in many instances, it was combined with an opiate or a mild hallucinogen such as datura (a plant of the nightshade family).Consequently, the effects of cannabis were often confused with the effects of the other more powerful drugs which were often included in the “hashish” mixture.[112]

Jacques-Joseph Moreau, a nineteenth century French doctor, became interested in experimenting with hashish on the premise that its pharmaceutical properties could induce a mental breakdown, and thus aid in the treatment of mental illness. He published his studies as, Hashish and Mental Illness in the mid-nineteenth century.During the course of his research, Dr. Moreau came into contact with the Club des Hachichins, an elite literary club founded by Theophile Gautier, which included the likes of such writers as Dumas, de Nerval, Hugo, Boissard, and Delacroix. Once a month in the lobby of the Hotel Lauzun, in the Latin Quarter of Paris, Dr. Moreau met with these authors and dispensed his hashish among them.During these meetings, Dr. Moreau and his subjects kept records of their thoughts and the effects of the drug as they entered altered states of mind. Through their work they helped create an image of hashish which probably damaged the public’s perception of the drug. In particular, they attributed the negative effects of the harsher drugs, such as the addiction of opium or the hallucinations of datura, to cannabis, which was the main ingredient of hashish.[113]

More importantly, this clique of writers helped to proliferate a myth about hashish which would become a weapon of propaganda in the anti-marihuana campaign. Specifically, these authors were fascinated with Silvestre de Sacy’s hypothesis that hashish was the grass of which Marco Polo wrote as the secret elixir of the infamous Assassins, the arch-enemies of the Knights Templars during the Crusades. According to legend, the Assassins’ leader, the Old Man on the Mountain, gave his zealots hashish before battle. Supposedly, the drug caused the user to become a berserk, blood-thirsty killing machine.[114] Although the knowledge of hashish and its sensationalized myth remained confined to a limited audience, word of it spread from French literary circles to English, and finally on to America. In America, the writers of the Bohemian genera like Bernard Taylor and Fitz Hugh Ludlow were the first to openly dabble with the drug and employ its mythology in their fiction.In time, other journalistic ventures, such as medical and psychological journals, exploited the myth of the Assassins and introduced it to mainstream America.[115] Eventually, by the late 1920s, this exotic fantasy about hashish was cited as if it were a historical fact by anti-marihuana proponents.[116]

In retrospect, the legislation against marihuana on the state and local level, between 1914 and 1930, was the direct result of xenophobia and the Progressive mentality. This observation is particularly disturbing since the motivating factors for these laws were not historically or scientifically credible.Instead, each campaign against marihuana relied on rumors, prevarications, biases, and outright racism.In many instances local officials managed to pass laws against marihuana without the public’s knowledge.If and when the media did cover an anti-marihuana campaign, no effort was made to provide the public with an objective story.Instead, the media played with the conventions of the myth of the Assassins, Progressive morality, and xenophobically inspired misrepresentations. In the end, both the media and local government were responsible for perpetuating these fallacies and creating a precedent for federal legislation in the future.

Despite the many incidents of anti-marihuana legislation on the state and local level, the federal government ignored all cannabis drugs until 1929. At this late date Congress included Indian Hemp on the list of drugs which were to be treated at two newly created narcotic farms.In retrospect, Congress’s action was merely a token gesture of recognition, rather than an attempt to address a true problem.The clinics were established for the treatment of patients who had serious dependency problems with opiates.However, through some medium, the legislators became aware that Indian Hemp had been a topic during a recent international narcotic conference, and because of this they decided to include Indian Hemp in the final draft of the narcotic farms’ charters.[117]

Later, during 1929, the federal government formally acknowledged the existence of marihuana.Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas introduced the first federal anti-marihuana legislation. His bill, S. 2075, provided for the inclusion of marihuana in the Narcotic Drugs Export and Import Act which had been passed in 1922 without considering marihuana. In 1929, Congress’s knowledge about marihuana was extremely limited, therefore, Senator Lawrence Phipps requested that the Surgeon General conduct a study on the marihuana problem as it would relate to the proposed bill, S. 2075.The subsequent report was entitled Preliminary Report on Indian Hemp and Peyote.This report was presented and accepted as if it were the final word on the subject of marihuana when, in reality, it displayed total disregard for the standards of objectivity and blatantly ignored the findings of both the 1925 Panama Canal Zone Report and the British Indian Hemp Commission Report. In place of the well-established truth, the Preliminary Report on Indian Hemp and Peyote labeled marihuana a narcotic and presented the myth of the Assassins as historical fact. Furthermore, it lent official confirmation to the unfounded rumor that marihuana possessed the capability of inducing addictive, criminal, and even insane behavior. Needless to say, this document had a significant impact on the perception of marihuana in Congress, but apparently not enough, because S. 2075 died in committee.[118]

Just as S. 2075 was being laid to rest, Congress took a giant step forward and created a new agency to oversee the nation’s drug problem. On June 14, 1930, the Federal Narcotics Control Board and the narcotics division of the Bureau of Prohibition were terminated and their responsibilities were placed under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which became an independent division of the Treasury Department. Harry J. Anslinger was chosen to head the Bureau.The new Commissioner had already distinguished himself as a capable enforcer with the Bureau of Prohibition’s narcotics task force, not to mention the fact that he was destined to become the nephew-in-law of the Secretary of Treasury, Andrew Mellon.[119] From the moment of the Bureau’s creation, Commissioner Anslinger decided to push for the total prohibition of marihuana, based on the premise that the need to control potential cannabis addiction outweighed the drug’s limited medicinal value. In this context, one of the first orders of business for the newly created Bureau became the enactment of a uniform state narcotic law with cannabis included in its provisions.[120]

The American Medical Association decided to draft the first uniform narcotic act in 1922, because of a lack of uniformity in record keeping, weak enforcement against violators, and growing hysteria in the public about addicts and crime. The following year a committee of fifteen Representatives from ten pharmaceutical companies and two representatives from the medical profession approved the original version of the uniform state narcotic law.Meanwhile, these efforts were overshadowed by the creation of the National Conference of Commissioners for Uniform State Laws.The larger movement was composed of two representatives from each state, who were appointed by their respective governors. In 1924, the Commissioners created a committee to draft a uniform state narcotic act.This led to the first draft of the Uniform State Narcotic Act in 1925, hereafter referred to as the UNDA (Uniform Narcotic Drug Act). Cannabis was included in the Act’s provisions but nothing ever came of this draft.Further work was shelved until 1928, when a second draft was composed. In this version of the Act, the inclusion of cannabis was made optional, but again the Act failed to receive the attention of the Commissioners. This trend continued as two more drafts were written up and presented in 1929 and 1930.[121]

After 1930, the newly created Federal Bureau of Narcotics made the fight to include marihuana in the provisions of the UNDA an issue of high priority. A policy of misinformation was hastily adopted and formalized in a slickly packaged media campaign. Ironically, this propaganda reflected the prejudice of xenophobic attitudes, the morality of Progressive policy toward narcotics, and the tendency for sensationalized stories, such as the myth of the Assassins. The Bureau’s first move was to cite the Wickersham Commission Report on Crime and the Foreign Born of 1929.One volume of the report, the Warnhuis Study, attempted to justify the blatantly false and racist argument linking marihuana, Mexicans, and crime.Besides the Warnhuis Study, the Bureau brought forth media and police reports regarding alleged marihuana problems in several cities.Like the rumors about the Mexican use of marihuana from the Southwest, these reports had a definite racial and socio-economic bias.For further ammunition against marihuana, the Bureau also cited the findings of the erroneous Preliminary Report on Indian Hemp and Peyote.[122]

Whether this material was truthful or believable was not the issue, especially when the point that it made supported the Bureau’s position and goal. The Bureau officially unleashed this propaganda to the public in 1931 through two Christian Science Monitor articles.[123] The headline of the first article read: “Drug Used by Mexican Aliens Finds Loophole in the U. S. Laws - Spread of Growth of Marihuana in Wake of Immigrants Causes Grave Concern at Washington - Effects Described in Wickersham Studies.”[124] Then, in a subsequent issue, a source within the Bureau claimed that: “Instances of criminals using the drug to give them courage before making brutal forays are occurrences commonly known to the narcotics Bureau.”[125] Through propaganda like this, the Bureau attempted to apply pressure on the recalcitrant pharmaceutical and medical interests which opposed the idea of restrictions on marihuana.

For some reason, though, the media were unconcerned with marihuana and the fight to include the drug in the provisions of the UNDA.As a consequence, the ensuing debate remained confined to politics and had virtually no influence on the public. For instance, a New York Times article from 1931 simply stated that the Narcotic Survey Commission was asking the states to prohibit the cultivation of marihuana. If there had been a serious problem with marihuana, the article failed to mention anything specific.[126] Meanwhile, on the other side of the political debate the pharmaceutical and medical interests led by the American Medical Association continued to oppose the inclusion of cannabis. When the UNDA was finally passed in 1932, the inclusion of marihuana was left to the discretion of the individual states.Evidently, the Commissioners were not convinced of a problem despite the efforts of the Bureau.[127]

During 1933, the hemp industry appeared to become a concern of the Bureau when it requested a report on the hemp industry from the Department of Agriculture. This report, Hemp Fiber Production, was sent to the Bureau from the Department of Agriculture in December, 1933. According to the authors of this report, Dr. Andrew H. Wright and Dr. Lyster H. Dewey, the hemp industry was on the verge of extinction. Since 1928, the annual harvest of hemp had been a meager 1000 acres.This cultivation was primarily confined to the state of Wisconsin.[128] In retrospect, the Bureau’s request seems a little unusual since the Bureau had no formal jurisdiction over marihuana or the hemp industry.Later, during the spring of 1934, the potential threat of anti-marihuana legislation led Dr. Wrightand Dr. Dewey to contactthe Bureau with requests for information. Both men were confused as to whether or not the new anti-marihuana laws actually prohibited the legitimate growth of hemp for industrial purposes.[129]

On April 7, 1934, the Commissioner responded to Dr. Wright’s request by citing an example of a state law from Nebraska.This particular law had been enacted in 1927. According to the Commissioner, the law completely prohibited the cultivation of marihuana.Continuing, the Commissioner explained that cannabis did not rightly fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government, although with respect to this situation, the Commissioner stated that the Bureau was behind efforts to control the traffic of cannabis through the enactment of the optional marihuana clause in the UNDA.As the clause was written, it did not necessarily prohibit the cultivation of marihuana, but it did require the licensing of growers and producers. After this, the Commissioner noted that on the average 1400 acres of hemp had been cultivated in Wisconsin, Dr. Wright’s home state, during the past few seasons and that there were no regulatory laws. This situation obviously upset the Commissioner.In his own words, he suggested that the Wisconsin State Legislature should consider “a special regulatory measure to insure that the flowering tops of the plant shall not be available for improper or non-medical use.”[130]

Despite this outward display of concern, the Bureau did not seem to be pressured by any sense of urgency.Upon an analysis of the Bureau’s public record, one historian was led to conclude that: “The Bureau saw no extraordinary danger in the use of marihuana between 1930 and 1934. It decried its use by Mexican-Americans but expressed belief the state laws could control this illicit activity.”[131] During 1933, the Bureau primarily worked with the states to organize the Uniform State Narcotic Act. But, by April of 1934, only Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia had passed the optional marihuana clause.Through the rest of 1934, the Bureau continued to treat the marihuana issue secondarily, however, toward the end of the year, the Bureau began to refocus its attention on the drug. Starting in 1935, the Bureau suddenly unleashed an unprecedented media blitz based on the false premise that marihuana was a dangerous narcotic capable of inducing criminal and violent behavior.Except this time around, the Bureau’s demeanor and actions were far more serious and combative than they had been during the initial campaign for the UNDA. Why this abrupt change of policy occurred has never been conclusively established.[132]

Despite any actual verification, the new surge of anti-marihuana activity in 1935 has been linked to the Bureau’s disappointment with the limited success of the UNDA. From the outset the American Medical Association and the pharmaceutical companies objected to the legislation and after the passage of the UNDA they successfully lobbied against the bill at the state level.Late in 1934, the Bureau decided to counter the opposition of the American Medical Association and the pharmaceutical companies.For this purpose the Bureau launched their propaganda campaign during 1935 to stimulate public support for the UNDA and further federal legislation against marihuana.[133] This act resulted in the demonization of marihuana and the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics naturally claimed that there was a genuine problem, but they failed to provide the hard evidence to substantiate their claim. Instead, the reality appears to be that the Bureau recycled the rumors, prevarications, and myths of the past; dressed them in the garb of authority; and paraded them before the public and the law-makers as a precedent for oppressive legislation on the federal level. Why did a branch of the federal government display such an utter disregard for the truth? Based on this alarming discrepancy, there seems to be good reason to question the rationale behind the Bureau’s final assault against marihuana.

Chapter Three

The Final Assault




Commissioner Harry Anslinger seems to have become aware of the new hemp industry at approximately the same time that he focused the Bureau’s energies on securing federal legislation against marihuana in 1935. Contrary to the traditional interpretation of history, the Commissioner’s decision to lead this final assault against marihuana was directly affected by the development of new commercial enterprises in the hemp industry.From 1935 on, the Bureau actively re-wrote the history of hemp by demonizing marihuana. Ever since this act of deceit, the memory of the new hemp industry in the 1930s has been erased from the public record. In retrospect, the demonization of marihuana was nothing more than a premeditated act of historical sabotage designed specifically to ensure that the truth about hemp’s economic potential never reached the investing public.The sudden cascade of insidious propaganda against the use of marihuana acted like a nebulous abstraction hiding the real motives which guided the Bureau. Ultimately, the final assault against marihuana was triggered by the monopolistic greed and economic insecurity of a few financially threatened industries. The reality of this history has been concealed from the public for roughly sixty years.

Early in 1935, the new commercial hemp ventures caught the attention of Helen Moorehead, the Secretary of the League of Nations Opium and Dangerous Drugs Advisory Committee, who had been working on the international front to control the traffic of drugs.Secretary Moorehead contacted the Department of Agriculture for information on the domestic marihuana situation as it might relate to legitimate agricultural and industrial enterprises.In response to her requests, Dr. M. A. McCall, Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Plant Industry, supplied Secretary Moorehead with information pertaining to the commercial hemp industry. According to Dr. McCall, certain promoters had been active during the 1934 and 1935 seasons attempting to develop a hemp fiber industry in certain parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. This promotional activity had caused a tremendous increase in the total acreage of hemp under cultivation during 1934 and 1935.[134] This correspondence was passed on to the Bureau.It provided them with their first report about the new commercial activity in the hemp industry.[135]

Between 1935 and 1937, the Bureau actively gathered information on the new hemp industry, even though it possessed no real authority to do so.During this same period of time, the Bureau became aware that the new ventures in the hemp industry planned on cultivating the plant for its cellulose. This unique chemical compound was one of the most sought after raw materials in the industrial world, as it was and still is the primary ingredient for the production of paper, plastics, synthetic textiles, and building materials.Starting in the mid-1920s and continuing into the 1930s, a body of agricultural literature surfaced which seriously discussed the possibility of producing cellulose from typical farm crops.[136] The possibility was praised as a major breakthrough in the media and it was looked to as a solution for the plight of the farmers, whose profits had steadily deteriorated since the close of the First World War.By 1927, the topic of utilizing farm wastes as an alternative source for the production of cellulose pulp reached the halls of Congress. Several comprehensive bills were debated in successive sessions of Congress.Eventually a compromise was reached in 1930, but nothing was ever done for the farmers.[137] However, in the private sector certain promoters were advocating the cultivation of hemp during 1930.[138] Specifically, they were promoting state of the art machinery for the production of fiber. This machinery was critical to the establishment of the new hemp industry because the waste material, the hurd, which remained after the hemp was processed for its fiber, was ideal for the production of cellulose pulp.

Apparently, without the Bureau’s knowledge, the new commercial hemp industry came into existence with the organization of the Northwest Hemp Corporation in 1933. The company’s president, Frank Holton, became interested in the prospects of the commercial hemp industry after a meeting with H. W. Bellrose, the president of the World Fibre Corporation.[139] During their meeting they discussed the commercial potential of hemp.Among the possibilities envisioned by Bellrose, one in particular stood out as the greatest advantage; that was the use of hemp for the production of paper. According to Bellrose, the paper industry was perfectly suited for hemp.In addition to paper, Bellrose also referred to the possibility of making plastics from the cellulose and textiles from the fiber.[140] These productive interests were characteristic of the new commercial concerns in the hemp industry.

Starting in 1935, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics requested annual reports from the Bureau of Plant Industry on the hemp industry. These reports briefly informed the Bureau about the new activity.One of the new ventures was Frank Holton’s Northwest Hemp Corporation. The Bureau discovered that this company had cultivated 6500 acres in 1934 and an additional 2000 acres in 1935.[141] During 1936, it was reported to the Bureau that the Minnesota concerns did not cultivate any hemp.[142] However, in 1937, the Bureau was notified of three new companies in Minnesota: Chempco, Incorporated, the Central Fibre Corporation, and the Champagne Paper Company. Together, these three ventures had planted 3700 acres of hemp for the specific purpose of utilizing both the fiber and hurds for the manufacture of paper.[143]

Another company active in the promotion of the hemp industry was the Amhempco Corporation of Danville, Illinois.The Bureau learned of this business in 1935, when it was reported to them that the Amhempco Corporation had planted 4200 acres of hemp.At this time, the Bureau also discovered that the Amhempco Corporation planned on using its stock of hemp for the manufacture of textiles and cellulose-based products.[144] In 1936, the Bureau received an update and found that the Amhempco Corporation had planted an additional 1000 acres of hemp.[145] A final report for the year of 1937 showed that the Amhempco Corporation was on record for having planted 7200 acres of hemp.This crop was the largest annual acreage harvested by any single commercial concern during the 1930s. Furthermore, in the Bureau of Plant Industry report, it was stated that the Amhempco Corporation intended to utilize the waste material, the hurd, for the manufacture of paper and plastics.[146]

From 1935 to 1938, the Bureau publicly acknowledged the new hemp ventures in its annual publication, Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs.Behind this openness, the Bureau demonstrated a specific concern regarding the possibility of producing paper from hemp.In an undated letter from 1935, the Commissioner requested information from the Bureau of Plant Industry regarding the potential of utilizing hemp to produce paper.[147] A response to this inquiry was not present in the Marihuana Tax Act file, but it is possible that the response was part of the general file from 1936, which happened to be mysteriously missing from the document collection.[148] Whatever the response may have been, the truth of the matter was that hemp was ideally suited to become a major industrial cash crop because of its potential to produce cellulose, and, in particular, paper pulp.

In connection with this observation, it is interesting to note that between 1935 and 1938 the Paper Trade Journal abstracted a total of eighteen experimental studies and commercial patents regarding the utilization of hemp for the production of paper.Eleven of these abstracts were printed between July and December of 1935.[149] Certainly any response from the Bureau of Plant Industry pertaining to the topic of hemp for paper would not have failed to notice this new surge of commercial interest. Nor would it be difficult to suggest the possibility of awareness among the wood pulp paper industry.

During the final assault, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was well aware of the hemp industry and its concern about the new law. For instance, late in 1936, the Bureau learned of experimental crops of hemp which were being cultivated under the supervision of the Chicago Tribune. The Bureau happened to discover these experiments because the Chicago Tribune reported on their progress in a section of the paper titled, “Day by Day Story of the Experimental Farms.”[150] A letter dated September 28, 1936, from Commissioner Anslinger to the Bureau’s District Supervisor in Chicago, Elizabeth Bass, requested information regarding these experiments.Supervisor Bass quickly replied and informed the Commissioner that she had been referred to Frank Ridgway, who was in charge and personally interested in the hemp project.[151] The following week Supervisor Bass visited the experimental farm and discussed its purpose with Ridgway. He informed her that the Tribune’s interests were directed “toward the manufacturing uses of the fiber, pith, etc. into commercial products.”Ridgway also expressed his lack of knowledge about marihuana and that he did not know that hemp was the same plant.[152]

This information was still too general for Commissioner Anslinger and he requested specifics on the following points: “1) Ascertain the demand for the machine that was used to harvest the MARIHUANA. 2) Find out the places in the United States where there is such a demand.3) Find just what the hemp is used for in those sections.” He also requested that she try to talk to the growers and the manufacturers of the hemp.[153] In her reply, Supervisor Bass stated the following opinion:

“Objections raised by the manufacturing druggists who have slight need of the extracts of the Cannabis in medicinal compounds will be trifling when compared with the country-wide protests that will be raised as with one voice by the experimental stations everywhere developing the use of the fibers of the Cannabis plant stems for every variety of textile.”[154]



With regard to the specific information Commissioner Anslinger had requested, Supervisor Bass replied a second time since she was unable to contact Ridgway immediately.[155]

During their second conversation, she discovered who had manufactured the harvesting machine.It had been constructed by the John W. Deere Company of Moline, Illinois. They had modified an ordinary small grain binder, extending its platform further than normal to account for the height of the hemp.The company had manufactured twelve to fourteen of these machines some years ago. One of the machines was in the possession of H. W. Bellrose, the President of the World Fibre Organization, and the several others had been given to the George Ball Glass Can Company of Indiana, the principal financial backers of the Amhempco Corporation. Ridgway also informed Supervisor Bass as to the optimal harvesting time, which was prior to the budding stage, and he also explained that the parts of the plant which were under consideration for commercial use were the fiber, hurds, and seeds.[156]

The following day, Supervisor Bass sent Commissioner Anslinger a clipping from the November 4, 1936 edition of the Chicago Tribune, regarding the paper’s experimental farm which had come to her attention too late to include with the previous report. The article addresses the difficulty of harvesting the hemp as well as explains that the fiber was to be developed into cloth, the hurds were to be made into cellulose products, and the seeds were to be pressed for their oil.[157] At this point, the communication between the Bureau and the Chicago Tribune ends without any real closing of the business at hand.[158]

Another example of the new hemp industry’s concern becomes apparent on January 18, 1937, when Dr. Brittain B. Robinson of the Bureau of Plant Industry was contacted by the Champagne Paper Corporation. This particular company was considering the use of hemp fiber in the manufacture of cigarette papers and paper for Bibles.The company had become aware that legislation restricting the cultivation of hemp existed in some states.As a result, L. F. Dixon of the Champagne Paper Corporation requested information about the narcotic properties of the hemp.For example, he wanted to know if different botanical varieties of hemp existed and whether or not the type used for the production of fiber possessed the narcotic principle.[159] There was no record of any reply; however, a letter from Commissioner Anslinger to the Department of Agriculture dated February 2, 1937, revealed that the Bureau of Plant Industry had passed the Champagne Paper Corporation’s request for information on to the Bureau of Narcotics.In the Commissioner’s response, he asked the Bureau of Plant Industry to provide the company with the information it had requested.And, to avoid any further confusion, he suggested that the Department of Agriculture should provide information regarding the analysis and identification of the drug and that only letters requesting information regarding the enforcement of marihuana laws be passed on to the Bureau of Narcotics.[160]

On June 12, 1937, an attorney from Mankato, Minnesota, G. P. Smith, contacted his local Congressman, the Honorable Elmer J. Ryan, regarding the cultivation of hemp.Smith’s office was located in the same building which housed the National Citizens Bank in Mankato, Minnesota.This bank was the primary financial backer of the hemp projects in Southern Minnesota. Smith’s letter was eventually provided to the Bureau by Congressman Ryan. Beginning the letter, Smith explained that he was interested in developing hemp as a cash crop.He stated that, over the past few years a considerable amount of hemp had been grown for cash in Southern Minnesota. He then proceeded to discuss the activity of the Farm Chemurgic Council and Chemical Foundation, stating that they had made significant progress toward developing the use of hemp for industrial products. He also spoke of “one of the largest paper manufacturers in the country” which planned on using hemp fiber in the production of paper and of another commercial group located in the East, which was interested in using the hurds as a raw material source for plastics. Finally, he emphasized that he had been told by a “leading paper manufacturer” that the growing of hemp in the Middle West was likely to develop into “a more important cash crop than soya beans.”[161]

After Smith had made clear his seriousness and involvement in the emerging hemp industry, he posed a few questions to his Congressman. First, he mentioned that he had heard of a variety of hemp from which a narcotic drug could be produced, but he did not believe that the hemp raised for fiber purposes was the same variety. Second, he noted that he was aware of a bill which was in committee, House File No. 6385, the future Marihuana Tax Act. And, with regard to this pending legislation, Smith and his associates expressed the following concern, “We are unable to understand why such a bill should be proposed because according to our information it could serve no good purpose and would embarrass, if not kill, an important agricultural development.” Continuing the same line of thought, he explained that, “No one farmer raises any considerable acreage, the profits are not large and I do not believe any independent Minnesota farmer would care to raise any crop under the license and direction of a Federal Bureau.” In conclusion, Smith urged that the bill be killed.[162]

On June 29, 1937, Commissioner Anslinger replied to Congressman Elmer J. Ryan, who had passed the letter on to the Bureau. The Commissioner explained that Smith had been misinformed regarding the narcotic properties of hemp. All varieties contained the narcotic substance.This situation made it necessary for the legislators to include domestic hemp used for commercial purposes within the purview of the law. He continued and explained that measures had been taken to ensure that the legitimate growth of hemp would not be hindered by the legislation. According to the Commissioner, the overriding purpose of the bill was “to bring out into the open all production and sale of the tops, leaves and seeds of the hemp plant which contain the dangerous drug marihuana and to prevent, if possible, the illicit production and sale of these tops, leaves and seeds.” Commissioner Anslinger concluded his letter by ensuring the Congressman that the bill would not interfere with legitimate industry.[163] This correspondence ended with the Commissioner’s reply.

The surge of commercial interest in utilizing hemp to produce paper, plastics, and textiles crucially affected the Bureau’s decision to launch its final assault against marihuana in 1935. Without a doubt, the Bureau was fully aware of the promising economic potential of hemp, and, between 1935 and 1937, this observation was rapidly becoming an economic reality. It certainly seems rather ironic that the marihuana issue spontaneously mushroomed into “the greatest narcotic peril in America” during the same period of time.[164] For instance, in 1938, during a conference held by the New York Herald Tribune, Commissioner Anslinger explained that:

“About 1935, we were stunned with the rapid wildfire spread of this drug; and by the following year it had become such a major menace as to call for the enactment of national control legislation. Nearly every State had suffered from the insidious invasion of this drug.It spread to new circles not previously contaminated by drug addiction; to young impressionable people.”[165]



Despite this claim, the Bureau’s motives for carrying out the final assault against marihuana have never been satisfactorily established.[166] This convenient state of institutional amnesia has resulted from the fact that the Commissioner and his assistants perjured themselves before both Congress and the public when they actively participated in the demonization of marihuana. Behind the veil of their specious representation there had not been any significant increase in the usage of the drug, nor was the national press reporting about a marihuana problem. The simple truth is, that prior to the Bureau’s final assault, the American people were largely unaware of the drug.

Consequently, in the absence of public awareness, the Bureau was able to demonize marihuana.For this task they returned to the erroneous assumptions of state and local authorities who had campaigned against marihuana during the previous twenty-year period.None of the state and local campaigns were based on a true problem with the drug. Instead, a combination of latent xenophobia and Progressive ideas caused the state and local authorities to be blind to reality. This blindness resulted in the proliferation of falsehoods and misrepresentations about marihuana, which suggested that the drug was a dangerous narcotic capable of inducing crime, violence, and insanity.In 1930, the Bureau craftily adopted the mendacity of past anti-marihuana campaigns, doctored it up with new fallacies, and then, used the improved version to demonize marihuana from 1935 on.This process entailed the compilation of an assorted array of propagandistic misinformation, consisting of biased police reports, prejudiced court sentences, and sensationalized media accounts, all of which labeled marihuana not only a dangerous narcotic but also a national menace.Importantly, because of the horrific nature of this material, it is now referred to as a “gore file.”[167] Significantly, between 1935 and 1937, material from this gore file was wantonly cited by the Bureau as legal precedent for federal legislation against marihuana.[168]

In order to disseminate this incidinary propaganda among the public, the Bureau enlisted the support of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the World Narcotic Defense Association, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Young Men’s Club of America, the National Parent Teacher Association, and the National Councils of Catholic Men and Women.[169] These groups provided the Bureau with the stamp of moral approval and indispensable aid in the overall effort to inform or, correctly, misinform the general public. In addition to employing the former institutions, the Bureau began to advise legislators about the dangers of marihuana.[170] Besides these acts of deception, the Bureau also deliberately suppressed the availability of objective information about marihuana from reaching the public.[171] But, without a doubt, the Bureau’s most effective weapon during the final assault was its uncanny ability to plant its anti-marihuana propaganda throughout the presses of the nation.[172] This last tactic of supplying the national media with false information effectively demonized marihuana in the eyes of public.

A survey of the media coverage during the final assault reveals that all of the articles about marihuana are traceable to the Bureau’s gore file.[173] None of the Bureau’s propaganda represented the truth.Instead, the public was fed a steady diet of prefabricated horror stories about marihuana. For instance, starting in 1935, the Bureau often cited the following prevarication as factual data: “Police officials in cities of those states where it [marihuana] is most widely used estimate that fifty per cent of the violent crimes committed in districts occupied by Mexicans, Spaniards, Latin-Americans, Greeks, or Negroes may be traced to this evil.”[174] Similar prevaricaticated data was consistently disseminated to the public despite its overt prejudice and lack of truth.One theme which seemed to be particularly effective for the Bureau involved the strategy of suggesting that marihuana dealers sought out the youth of America, who in their innocence were more susceptible to the drug’s addictive powers.[175] In the final assessment, though, none of the Bureau’s allegations against marihuana were ever historically or scientifically verified. This absence of truth was characteristic of all the Bureau’s inflammatory accounts describing marihuana’s evils.[176]

During 1935, two new bills against marihuana were presented in Congress by Congressman John J. Dempsey and Senator Carl A. Hatch from New Mexico.[177] Locally-inspired prejudice against the Mexican use of the drug seems to have prompted the introduction of this legislation. Within the Bureau, objection was raised to both bills by Acting Commissioner Will Wood and Chief Legal Advisor Alfred J. Tennyson, who felt that the proposed legislation might endanger the Harrison Act.This objection was overruled by their superiors in the Treasury Department, Assistant Secretary Stephen Gibbons and General Counsel Herman Oliphant, who approved the legislation. Apparently, though, the public outcry against marihuana was not strong enough or Congress knew the reality of the situation, because both pieces of legislation died before they reached the floor.[178]

In the meantime, General Counsel Oliphant continued to search for a suitable means of establishing federal control over marihuana. Eventually, he decided that the government’s ability to tax would provide the Bureau with the means they sought. Without notifying the public or Congress, the Bureau’s legal team proceeded to draft a bill authorizing a prohibitive tax on transactions dealing with marihuana. As a model the drafters turned to the 1934 National Firearms Act, which prohibitively taxed the unlicensed transfer of machine guns. Their plan became a reality after the constitutionality of the National Firearms Act was upheld by the Supreme Court on March 29, 1937.Shortly following this decision, the Bureau unveiled the Marihuana Tax Act, on April 15, 1937.[179]

Prior to the introduction of the Tax Act, the Bureau flooded its channels of propaganda with a foreign study on the Moslem custom of using cannabis drugs in the North African province of Tunisia.[180] The study was conducted by a French hospital pharmacist, Dr. Jules Bouquet, upon the request of the Sub-Committee on Cannabis of the League of Nations Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs.When the Bureau reproduced and disseminated this report through its propaganda channels, Dr. Bouquet was introduced as the world’s foremost expert on cannabis drugs. But, his conclusions bore the same traces of latent xenophobia and Progressive morality which had influenced the evolution of the marihuana issue in America.For instance, Dr. Bouquet offered the following explanation for the local Moslem custom of smoking and ingesting cannabis drugs:

“The basis of the Moslem character is indolence; these people love idleness and day-dreaming, and to the majority of them work is the most unpleasant of all necessities. Inordinately vain-glorious, thirsting for every pleasure, they are manifestly unable to realize more than a small fraction of their desires: their unrestrained imagination supplies the rest. Hemp, which enhances the imagination, is the narcotic best adapted to their mentality.The hashish addict can dream of the life he longs for: under the influence of the drug he becomes wealthy, the owner of a well-filled harem, of delightful cool gardens, of a board richly supplied with exquisite and copious viands; his every longing is satisfied, happiness is his.When the period of intoxication is over and he is again faced with the drab realities of his normal shabby life, his one desire is to find a corner where he may sleep until a new orgy of hemp brings him back to the realm of illusions.”[181]



In addition to racist bigotry, Dr. Bouquet associated the use of cannabis drugs with the “poorer classes in the urban communities: artisans, small traders, workmen, etc.”Continuing, Dr. Bouquet also claimed that the petty criminal classes were “ardent devotees of hashish.”[182] On the basis of his biased observations of a socio-economic section of the Moslem culture in Tunisia, Dr. Bouquet stated that the use of cannabis drugs led to abandonment of work, propensity to theft, and the disappearance of reproductive powers.[183] In the final assessment, Dr. Bouquet failed to produce any credible evidence to support his findings. Yet, despite this discrepancy, the Bureau still presented Dr. Bouquet’s erroneous findings before Congress as scientific verification of the dangers posed by marihuana.

Back in 1931, the Bureau had done the same thing with the Preliminary Report on Indian Hemp and Peyote, when it briefly campaigned for the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act. Six years later the Bureau continued to rely on the same strategy, employing prejudicially falsified information to ensure the passage of the Tax Act.All of the evidence presented against the drug by the Bureau during the Congressional Hearings, except for Dr. Bouquet’s report, were drawn from its gore file, the same body of misinformation which the Bureau had been diligently collecting and embellishing since 1930.During the hearings, Commissioner Anslinger drilled the legislators with shocking stories about the evils of marihuana.For instance, before the Senate Committee on Finance, Commissioner Anslinger cited a brutal murder and several other violent crime cases in which marihuana was blamed for the defendant’s actions.[184] None of the cases were scientifically credible.In fact, none of the material the Bureau offered during either of the hearings was credible. To pass the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, the Bureau committed perjury before the highest legislative body in the United States by lying about the history and effects of marihuana.

To the Bureau’s dismay, dissent was voiced during the Congressional Hearings on several occasions. In particular, the legislative counsel of the American Medical Association, Dr. William Woodward, vehemently opposed the new Tax Act. During the House Hearings, Dr. Woodward categorically denied each of the Bureau’s arguments against marihuana. Employing the Socratic Method, he questioned the Bureau’s reliance on sensationalized media stories instead of scientific evidence.In answer to his query, Dr. Woodward proceeded to demonstrate that the perceived problem was a farce of the imagination:

“We are told that the use of marihuana causes crime.But yet no one has been produced from the Bureau of Prisons to show the number of persons addicted to marihuana.An informal inquiry shows that the Bureau of Prisons has no information to this point.You have been told that school children are great users of marihuana cigarettes. No one has been summoned from the Children’s Bureau to show the nature and extent of the habit among children. Inquiry into the office of Education, and they certainly should know something of the prevalence of the habit among school children of this country, if there is a prevalent habit, indicates that they have had no occasion to investigate it and know nothing of it.”[185]



Dr. Woodward also found that the Bureau of Mental Health and the Public Health Service were ignorant of a marihuana problem.The testimony presented by Dr. Woodward effectively explained why the Bureau had no credible evidence to present during the hearings. According to Michael Schaller, a historian observing this debate thirty-four years later, “There simply was no evidence of a marihuana problem, except in the eyes of the Bureau of Narcotics.”[186]

Further dissent was registered by several representatives from the new hemp industry during the Congressional Hearings. These representatives lobbied for the exemption from the Tax Act of hemp cultivated for legitimate commercial operations. During the ensuing debate, Commissioner Anslinger argued that the plant, hemp, produced the drug, marihuana, and therefore the two were inseparable.In other words, any legislation dealing with marihuana also covered hemp. Eventually, a compromise was reached between the Bureau and these representatives. This compromise consisted of an agreement on the part of the Bureau to exclude the mature stalks of the plant from the stipulations of the tax, as long as the stalks were free of all foliage before they were transferred from the farmer to the processor.In return, the industry representatives agreed to comply with regulatory licensing and supervision.Both parties appeared to be satisfied with this decision and the hearings concluded.[187]

Despite the gross misrepresentations, the Bureau easily convinced Congress to pass the Marihuana Tax Act. This feat was certainly aided by the crafty maneuvering of General Counsel Herman Oliphant.When he introduced the bill, he presented it to the House Committee on Ways and Means.According to Congressional procedure, a bill could be sent directly to the Senate via this powerful House committee.Interestingly, the Committee on Ways and Means was chaired by Representative Robert L. Doughton, a staunch ally of Du Pont.[188] The rationale for this legislative sleight of hand was quite simple.If the bill had been debated in the House, representatives from the districts where hemp was to be grown would have offered opposition and possibly killed the legislation, while bringing national attention to the economic potential of hemp.However, this scenario was not allowed to occur.Instead, the bill’s supporters astutely circumvented debate in the House and ensured the passage of bill.

On August 2, 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act was signed into law. In section 14 of the Tax Act the Bureau was given full jurisdiction over the issue of marihuana. This new responsibility was formalized through Regulations No. 1, which was a comprehensive code of licensing and taxing procedure.[189] In particular, Regulations No. 1 featured a transfer tax to control the distribution and traffic of marihuana. Hemp cultivated for legitimate industrial purposes was exempt from the transfer tax as long as the foliage was removed from the mature stalks of the harvested plants.But, if violated, Regulations No. 1 stipulated that the Bureau possessed the legal right to confiscate, withhold, or destroy the hemp in question.[190]

During the same amount of time that it took the Bureau to demonize marihuana and pass the Tax Act, the new hemp industry nearly revolutionized agriculture by developing the cultivation of hemp as a cash crop for industrial purposes. There would seem to be an obvious correlation between the final assault against marihuana and the dawn of the new hemp industry.Historically, the acts of deception carried out by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics during its final assault against marihuana were indicative of the protective strategies exercised by the wood pulp industry whenever its investments or profits were threatened by economic changes.

At the close of the 1920s, the wood pulp industry was clearly dominated by the International Paper Company (between 1927 and 1935 the International Paper and Power Company). As a leading manufacturer of wood pulp, International dictated prices in the lucrative newsprint market and controlled a large stake in the production of Southern kraft pulp.[191] Furthermore, it was capable of exercising a considerable amount of influence over the major presses of America through the American Newspaper Publishers Association.[192] During the late 1920s, International’s behavior directly affected the development of farm wastes as an alternative source for the production of paper; a movement, which, in turn, was inseparable from the natural progression of history leading up to the genesis of the new hemp industry.The following scenario of economic sabotage occurred for the simple reason that the wood pulp industry stood to lose a considerable amount of investment and profit if farm wastes were developed as an alternative source for the manufacture of cellulose products such as paper and plastics.

In 1929, the International Paper and Power Company was involved in a plot to close the newsprint market to paper made from the cellulose of farm wastes.At this time the company already dominated the newsprint market and it was beginning to infiltrate the media by offering 15-year contracts to newspaper publishers in return for stock in their newspapers.Furthermore, it was alleged that these 15-year contracts were designed to close the newsprint market to paper made from the cellulose pulp of farm wastes. In order to set the standard with the 15-year contracts, International conducted negotiations with the largest consumer of newsprint, the Hearst media syndicate. Before anything was formalized, though, Senator Thomas Schall of Minnesota called for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate International.[193] As a result of these investigations International promptly restructured its contracts and liquidated its interest in newspapers to avoid any further attention.[194]

This act of retreat was not made in defeat. Instead, another solution had offered itself to the Hearst media syndicate and newspaper publishers in general. During 1930, Hearst purchased an interest in the production of newsprint.[195] This development marked the beginning of a trend as more newspapers followed suit. The trend increased after the passage of the Holding Company Act of 1935.This piece of legislation forced holding companies with subsidiary interests outside of their primary realm of business to liquidate their assets in the subsidiary interests. Evidently, the production of newsprint had become a subsidiary business concern of public utility holding companies. This was the case with the International Paper and Power Company, which was primarily a public utility and secondarily a paper manufacturer.As a consequence of the new law, many changes occurred in the financial structure of the newsprint industry between 1936 and 1937.These transformations were embodied in a process of decentralization during which the nation’s larger newspaper publishers purchased an interest in the production of newsprint.In the process, the newspaper publishers assumed the financial burden of manufacturing, since the production of newsprint carried one of the highest ratios between plant investment and unit sales.[196] This financial burden undoubtedly influenced the intensity of the demonization of marihuana.

In particular, Hearst was one of the first and most active participants in the final assault.[197] Certainly his new control of the production of wood pulp paper influenced his decision to attack marihuana; otherwise he could have lost a significant sum of money if hemp had emerged as a raw material source for the manufacture of newsprint as the plant’s promoters suggested.This scenario of interlocking financial interests also applied to the investment bankers who provided the capital for the newspaper publishers, such as Hearst, to acquire an interest in the production of newsprint. In connection with these observations, it is interesting to note that, prior to the 1930s, Hearst had used his papers to attack the bastions of banking.However, by the time of the final assault against marihuana, Hearst had developed a new allegiance with this powerful business community.[198]

Additional evidence was offered in 1929, which linked the wood pulp industry to the Department of Agriculture in the plot, described previously, to sabotage the development of farm wastes as an alternative source. The focus was not on hemp at this time, but what occurred was reflective of what happened to hemp during the 1930s. This plot emerged in 1927, when an appropriation of $50,000 to conduct research into the utilization of farm wastes was secured for the Bureau of Standards.This appropriation was opposed by the Department of Agriculture on the grounds that the Bureau of Forestry and Forest Products already conducted the research. In reality, though, this government agency only searched for different types of wood to use for the production of paper. The simple truth of the matter was that the Bureau of Forestry and Forest Products was merely a government operated research center for the wood pulp industry. On an annual basis the Bureau of Forestry and Forest Products received approximately a million dollars for its specific research, yet during its twenty-year history very little progress had been made. Meanwhile, by 1929, the United States imported eighty percent of its wood pulp paper. This import market was worth $275,000,000. In light of this potentially lucrative market for the American farmer, it seems rather puzzling that the Department of Agriculture would not endorse $50,000 to conduct research for the development of farm waste for the production of paper.[199]

A similar conflict of interest becomes apparent again in 1929, when Blair Coan, a Washington newspaper correspondent, revealed that the Department of Agriculture had suppressed information for twenty years, which suggested that white paper could be made cheaper and better from the cellulose of farm crops than from wood.[200] With regard to the previous allegation, it is particularly relevant to recall the Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture from 1910, in which the following statement was made:

“In addition to the waste materials that are available, evidence has been gathered that certain crops can probably be grown at a profit to both the grower and manufacturer, solely for paper-making purposes.One of the most promising of these is hemp.”[201]



This Yearbook article seems to have been the most extensive treatise written about the subject of alternate sources dating from the period of time twenty years prior to 1929. Based on this coincidence, there seems to be ample evidence to suggest that hemp was “one of the most promising” crop plants about which the Department of Agriculture was attempting to suppress the availability of agricultural and economic information from the public. Further inspection reveals that the Department was presented with similar data regarding the economic potential of hemp on several occasions during this twenty year period, and, in each instance the Department declined to act.[202]

During the same period of time, the national press coverage of alternative sources for the production of paper also displayed opposition to the use of farm wastes for such an endeavor.Hemp was not openly referred to in the media coverage of alternative sources, but any individual interested in the production of paper from farm wastes would have known about hemp’s unique properties.Instead, the main topic was cornstalks, since there was an abundance of this type of farm waste.On March 2, 1929, the New York Times featured a prominent article on alternative sources in its March 10, 1929, Sunday edition. The headline read, “CORNSTALK PAPER NOT SATISFACTORY.”This article was released only eight days after Senator Thomas Schall had delivered his final speech on alternative sources before the Senate, which described the previously discussed conspiracy to stop government aid for the establishment of a farm waste industry for the agricultural community.

According to the New York Times article, newspaper publishers had found cornstalk paper to be a poor substitute for wood pulp newsprint.In addition to being a poor substitute, it was stated that the cost of production for cornstalk newsprint was much greater. These negative aspects led the article’s author to conclude that farmers could expect little direct benefit from the development of farm waste industries.Instead, the author suggested that:

“Publishers of Cornbelt newspapers have been giving cornstalk newsprint a ‘ride’ and incidentally whooping it up for the utilization cornstalk waste as a means of industrializing farm communities and fattening the income of the farmer.” [203]



Clearly, the author was attempting to dissuade potential investors by claiming that the entire operation was promotional.At first glance this appears to be a noble gesture, but a closer inspection of the article reveals a technical slip.While discussing the prices the farmer could expect for his farm waste the author stated that:

“Estimates of the recoverable value to the farmer of his waste stalks run all the way from $5 to $12 an acre, the figure most frequently being suggested being $10. It is difficult to see where he can ever hope to realize anywhere near that figure.”[204]



However, the correct figure was not $5 to $12 per acre, but rather $5 to $12 per ton.[205] How did such an error finds its way into publication? The price by tonnage significantly increased the earning potential because for every acre of cultivation two to six tons of waste existed. Considering the context of the article and this specific error, it seems that there was a deliberate attempt to downplay the significance of developing farm waste industries.

A few weeks later another negative statement was printed in the New York Times.It was presented by the head of the Newsprint Institute, R. S. Kellogg, who noted that, “Cornstalk paper publicity goes merrily on.” In this release, Kellogg cited an official statement made by the Bureau of Standards regarding a promotional book on farm products in the industry.This particular book was heralded as the first to be printed on paper made from cornstalks. The official statement from the Bureau of Standards read as follows:

“A sample from the book, “Farm Products in Industry,” by G. M. Rommel, consisted of 25 per cent cornstalk fiber, 55 per cent sulphite fiber, and 20 per cent flax fiber.” - The question arises, therefore, why this paper should not be heralded as sulphite paper or flax paper with as much accuracy as it has been widely advertised as cornstalk paper.”[206]



Obviously the wood pulp industry was concerned about the potential development of markets for alternative sources, otherwise why would the head of the Newsprint Institute have felt compelled to release such a derogatory statement to the editor of the New York Times?

In the end, the efforts of the wood pulp industry in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture successfully quelled the brief surge of Congressional interest in developing farm waste industries for the farmer. Instead, legislators and the wood pulp industry decided to develop the Southern Pine as an alternate source for the production of paper.[207] Coincidentally, the Southern Pine became a serious topic about the same time that cornstalks were ruled out as a possibility.[208] In connection with this development, it is very interesting to note the positive reception given to the proposal to utilize the Southern Pine, as opposed to the negative reception encountered by farm waste legislation.

Starting in 1932, the Department of Agriculture released an influential report which supported the development of the Southern Pine as a source of wood pulp. This report also stated that hemp was unsuitable for the production of paper.[209] Indications of the policy-to-be continued in 1934, when President Roosevelt gave his approval of the plans to develop the Southern Pine for the production of newsprint.[210] The following year the Reconstruction Finance Corporation raised to the possibility of governmental aid for the development of industries to utilize the Southern Pine.[211] Also during 1935, Roosevelt put the Civilian Conserveration Corp to work reforesting the South, as well as sanctioning the federal purchase of forest holdings to be leased to private timber concerns.By 1937, the American Newspaper Publishers Association was urging publishers to invest in the building of production facilities.[212] The talk became reality in 1938, when a group of publishers in Texas were given a loan from the RFC and started the construction of a plant near Lufkin, Texas.[213] This facility opened in 1940, and marked the shift of the forest products industry from the North to the South.[214] To stress the significance of this economic shift, wood pulp grew to become the largest industry in five Southern states.[215]

Meanwhile, following the demise of farm waste legislation in 1930, promoters began to stimulate interest in the cultivation of hemp. In 1931, the Bureau of Plant Industry countered this activity by warning farmers to be wary of the hemp promoters, insinuating that they were scam artists.[216] Two years later, in 1933, the Bureau of Plant Industry canceled Lyster Dewey’s hemp breeding project.Another suspicious event occurred in 1935, when a government cellulose expert visited the National Cellulose Corporation of Minnesota and condemned the operation.[217]Based on the Bureau of Plant Industry’s specialization, it seems likely that the expert was sent by the agency.Regardless, this official’s action seems to have disillusioned investors and caused the company to fail.Most importantly, though, the Bureau of Plant Industry never backed the new hemp industry during the 1930s.Instead, the Bureau of Plant Industry consistently maintained that the new hemp ventures were merely promotional operations.In retrospect, it seems clear that the Bureau of Plant Industry’s guiding purpose was to stop the new hemp industry from reaching its full potential.[218] Each instance of sabotage was a continuation of the previously cited cases of opposition to developing farm waste as an alternative source for the production of paper.

When the new hemp ventures began to emerge as a real threat to the wood pulp paper industry in 1935, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics launched its final assault against marihuana.The sudden move on the part of the Bureau to demonize marihuana was indicative of the pattern of behavior which had been set before 1935, with regard to the development of farm wastes as an alternative source for the production of paper.In the fight against alternative sources, the International Paper and Power Company was a leader. Interestingly, this company was financially linked to J. P. Morgan & Company.[219] It is important to note, that Du Pont was also financially linked to this powerful bank.Du Pont was a participant in the wood pulp industry as the primary supplier of the chemicals necessary for pulping.In addition to this interest, Du Pont had also cornered the market on the synthetic fibers and plastics made from cellulose derived from wood pulp.[220] Furthermore, Du Pont was interested in the development of the Southern Pine as raw material source for its cellulose industries.[221] Likewise, the International Paper Company, which had been reformed as a result of the Public Utilities Holding Company Act of 1935, also expanded its operations into the Southern region, especially from 1935 on, in anticipation of utilizing the Southern Pine.

Du Pont and International were not alone in the migration as other large corporations entered the emerging Southern forest products industry.[222] For instance, the St. Regis Paper Company another Morgan interest, as well as the Great Northern Paper Company and the Champion Paper Company, which were within Chase Manhattan’s sphere of influence, also migrated southward. By 1935, the success of the Southern Pine as a new source of wood pulp was quickly becoming the responsibility of the federal government and the financial institutions which supported the movement, and eventually provided the capital to develop the industry. To give an idea of this new responsibility, one estimate predicted an investment of $500,000,000 would be necessary for the development of the Southern wood pulp industry.[223] A simple cursory glance at the history of the government and these financial institutions prior to 1935, reveals that both had consistently adopted conciliatory strategies to protect and further their interests. Incidentally, the Southern forest products industry faced a serious economic challenge from the nascent movement to utilize hemp as alternative source for the production of raw cellulose.

The previous observation raises speculation about collusion between the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and concerned industrial leaders. Commissioner Anslinger had been appointed to his post by his future uncle-in-law Andrew Mellon, who at the time had been the Secretary of the Treasury.In addition to serving as the Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon along with his brother controlled the Mellon Bank which was financially linked with J. P. Morgan & Company.[224] On a more personal level both Mellon brothers were a privileged members of J. P. Morgan & Company’s “preferred list.”This list was composed of corporate directors, government officials, and the heads of the nations largest banks.As a group, these preferred clients were kept informed on all aspects of the economy from which they shamelessly profited.

Among this privileged financial caste were individuals directly associated with International Paper, Du Pont, and other corporations financially interested in the development of the wood pulp industry and its expansion in the South.Hemp was undoubtedly unwelcome competition.Was it mere coincidence that the Bureau’s position toward marihuana abruptly changed in 1935, when Commissioner Anslinger became aware of the surge of activity to develop hemp for the production of cellulose pulp? Or was the final assault against marihuana precluded by hidden motives stemming from the industrial and governmental endorsement of plans to develop the Southern Pine as a new source of cellulose pulp?

Certainly, there is reason to continue the inquiry.During the final assault, the Bureau redoubled its efforts to demonize marihuana. Its task was greatly facilitated by the fact that the media, and various morality groups, as well as bureaucrats and legislators were easily influenced by the financial institutions which controlled all facets of the wood pulp industry.[225] This situation is best reflected in the phenomenal cooperative effort exhibited by the government and private concerns to the develop the Southern Pine industry. The campaign against marihuana was an extra protective measure to ensure the success of the project.Initially, the Bureau’s intense demonization of marihuana had the effect of seriously diminishing investment capital flowing into the development of the hemp industry.The following example serves to demonstrate the ramifications of this dilemma.

In Minnesota, after the National Cellulose Corporation failed, Joseph H. Gunderson assumed control of matters during 1936.Gunderson had invested heavily in the hemp venture from the beginning and throughout the past few years of failure he had maintained a vision of a grand industry. To keep this vision alive, he enlisted the financial aid of his associates and traveled to Delaware, where he organized a new company Chempco, Incorporated.The new company was listed under the liberal laws of Delaware, “to process, buy, sell, deal in and use fibre plants, etc., etc.” In addition to Gunderson, Dr. J. M. Johnson, of Hartington, Nebraska, who had organized the Nebraska Fibre Corporation during 1935 and had contracted to grow 3676 acres of hemp, also invested in the company, along with his son.[226]

Once Gunderson returned to Minnesota, he proceeded with negotiations to purchase hemp and he began organizing for the production of fiber at the old Union Fibre Corporation plant at Winona, Minnesota. For the purchase of hemp, Gunderson contacted Dr. Johnson and easily purchased the Nebraska crop. He then offered to buy any of the 1934 and 1935 crops from Minnesota that the farmers wanted to sell. Chempco, Inc. concentrated its efforts on producing fiber from the Nebraska crops during 1936. The fiber which they obtained was transferred for marketing to the Harry H. Strauss organization, which later developed the Central Fibre Corporation and the Champagne Paper Company. [227]

On February 24, 1937, the Central Fibre Corporation was organized by Harry H. Strauss and Lawrence F. Dixon. The purpose of the company was “to grow, cultivate and produce, sell and generally deal in flax, hemp, and other agricultural crops and products.” It was located in Blue Earth, Minnesota.That spring they contracted with local farmers and purchased 428,583 pounds of the 1934 and 1935 crops.Over the course of the summer and fall, they produced a total of 148,090 pounds of fiber which was classified as a mixture of hurd and short length fiber “tow.” Strauss’s other commercial enterprise was the Champagne Paper Company.Apparently, the fiber left at the Central Fibre Corporation mill in Winona, Minnesota was going to be shipped to a paper mill in Brevard, North Carolina, where Strauss planned to locate the Champagne Paper Company.The transfer was to occur once the plant was completed.[228] Nothing else is stated about the Champagne Paper Company. However, in an article written by Strauss, “Paper from Flax and Hemp,” which appeared in the September, 1937, issue of the Farm Chemurgic Journal, he discussed the company’s intentions of producing Bible, cigarette, carbon, condenser tissues, and similar grades of paper from hemp.[229]

During the Congressional Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act a representative for Chempco, Incorporated was present. The use of term marihuana was a specific concern of this representative.Because of the demonization of marihuana, hemp now possessed a very deleterious stigma. Explaining his position during the Senate Hearings, he stated: “I do not think the use of the word ‘marihuana’ belongs in this measure, because that is the word that came up from Mexico and attached to these cigarettes.I see no use in it. This is hemp being grown, not marihuana.”According to the representative, there was a definite necessity to differentiate between hemp cultivated for legitimate industrial purposes and the drug marihuana. If this was not done, he feared that “...we might lose an industry purely by the phraseology of the measure.”[230]

Meanwhile, in the spring of 1937, Chempco, Inc. had contracted with farmers to grow a new crop of hemp. About the same time, the Central Fibre Organization had been formed and the two companies entered into an agreement whereby the Central Fibre Corporation would buy and process all the hemp produced by Chempco, Inc. The other part of the agreement stipulated that the Central Fibre Corporation would market the fiber. This business transaction never occurred because Chempco, Inc. experienced a $25,000 loss in 1937, which forced the company to cease operations.Before this loss occurred the company had purchased 2,611,259 pounds of the 1934 and 1935 hemp crops which were left in the field. In the end, Gunderson was forced to resign on account of defalcations.[231]

Nothing was ever said about the circumstances of the $25,000 loss suffered by Chempco, Inc. in the records of the Bureau. Considering the absence of an explanation, there is reason to believe that investors withdrew because of the public hysteria which had resulted from demonization of marihuana and the inevitable threat of government regulations.In retrospect, the emergence of these three commercial concerns was the apex of the new hemp industry in Minnesota. After this episode the activity in Minnesota never really recovered.Gunderson, Strauss, and Dixon were truly on the verge of establishing the cultivation of hemp as a cash crop for the production of paper, plastics, and textiles, when the Bureau destroyed their plans by frightening away their financial backers and their farmers, both of whom did not want to be associated with the supposedly insidious demon drug—marihuana.

In conclusion, marihuana offered the Federal Bureau of Narcotics a convenient means of protecting the special interests of the wood pulp industry.The demonization of marihuana which occurred during the final assault forever marred the public’s perception of the hemp plant.It also allowed the Bureau to gain jurisdiction over the commercial hemp ventures. Potential investors did not want to risk their capital on a government controlled industry. Furthermore, farmers were especially wary of cultivating hemp because of the stigma of marihuana. Because of this impasse, the hemp ventures began to default after the passage of the Tax Act in 1937.To ensure that this process was finalized, the Bureau sabotaged the remaining concerns by using the stipulations of the transfer tax as a medium to stop business transactions.This underhanded tactic quickly drained the waning energy of the original promoters and forced them to abandon their dreams of developing hemp as a cash crop for the economically depressed agricultural community and as a raw material for the manufacture of cellulose products.

See Part 2 for the rest of this article. http://www.420magazine.com/forums/c...-dilemma-demonization-marijuana-part-2-a.html

Source Info:
The ORIGINALS of the items can be found at The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
 
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BILBUS

New Member
Eye opening for sure.
 
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Don't forget most state MJ prohibitions are much older than the Federal law.

Great piece, but there's a little more to it than this. Most states individually, IIRC including all of those west of the Mississippi, had banned marijuana by 1937, in many cases decades before. California's law was passed around 1915. The charge was led by the Southwestern border states in what is generally agreed to be prejudice against Mexicans and Mexican immigrants.

If you have access to the historic archives of any major city newspaper in these states, just search for "Marihuana" articles before, oh 1920. Here are some excerpts from the Los Angeles Times:


DELIRIUM OR DEATH.; Terrible Effects Produced by Certain Plants and Weeds Grown in Mexico. Los Angeles, Calif.: Mar 12, 1905. p. V20 (1 page)

This is from about nine years before marijuana prohibition in California, and discusses "marihuana" in addition to other reputedly dangerous weeds and plants.
It is said that immediately after the first three or four draughts of smoke smokers begin to feel a slight headache, then they see everything moving round, and finally lose all control of their mental faculties. They see herds of lions, tigers, devils, and unheard-of monsters coming to attack them. They are not afraid to kill, but feel themselves strong and brave enouth to annihillate so many enemies. Everything the smokers see, takes on the shape of a monster and men look like devils.
WAR MADE ON INDIAN HEMP. LOCAL CORRESPONDENCE. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sep 3, 1914. An interesting aside here is that, apparently, in the early days of drug prohibition, its enforcement was directed by the Board of Pharmacy rather a specific "narcotics" or general police official.
War has been declared by Inspector ____ of the State Board of Pharmacy aginst the growing of marihuana, or Indian hemp, in Oxnard, and his efforts are seconded by the local officers.

[(Paraphrasing) Wherever found, growing, the herb is cut and confiscated, and several wagon loads have been taken...It is believed to give the power of prophecy among those who smoke it.]

The effects of the drug are similar to opium.
POLICE STOP SALES OF DRUG IN TOBACCO BAGS.
LOCAL CORRESPONDENCE.
Los Angeles Times (1886-1922); Sep 30, 1914.
An early enforcement story, although I couldn't find anything in these archives about the prohibition law itself. This article takes a slightly different approach, likening very closely to opiates.
For some time the Marshal has been annoyed by [Mexican] men who have contracted the habit of smoking marihuana, which results in conditions similar to those acquired by the use of opium or morphine.
DRUG FIENDS MAKE "CRIME WAVE."; Ninety Per Cent of Present Epidemic of Violence in the City Caused by Desperate Efforts to Get Narcotics or Money to Buy Them, Police Declare. Because "Dope" Now Costs Its Slaves Here Twenty Dollars a Day Apiece. SLAVES OF DRUGS ARE DESPERATE; State and Federal Restrictions and Prohibition Have Forced Prices Out of Sight and a Saturnalia of Violent Crime is the Result, Police Say.
ALBERT F. NATHAN.. Los Angeles Times (1886-1922). Los Angeles, Calif.: Nov 30, 1919. p. II1 (2 pages)
VICIOUS WEED​
The marihuana smokers, who thank God, make up by far the smallest class of drug fiends, are the worst of them all...The peculiar thing about marihuana is the effect it has on the smoker's vision. All things look small to the user, and he himself feels as big as a mountain. The smallest Mexican in the state, if given enough marijuana, would attempt to lick Jack Dempsey without even thinking it over...The heavyweight champion would look about four feet tall.
These characterizations of marijuana make us wonder if they confused it with one of the other "weeds" in the first article. It is true that Indian hemp and loco-weed have also been used to designate other, American-indigenous, plants which also contain psychoactive chemicals. It's against the rules to say what plants they are, but I think I'm allowed to say they can produce hallucinations and euphoria, but are also far, far more toxic. I can't help wonder if the supposed toxicity of true hemp was at least partially the result of its possible confusion with these other plants.

We all know better than to believe everything we read in the papers, and these supposed attributes of cannabis are laughable today. At least, they would be funny if it weren't for the fact that this was the beginning of the whole War On Drugs ethos.

This isn't a refutation of the Hearst/wood-pulp angle, but I think it's more a case of Hearst using the anti-marijuana hysteria then prevalent as a means by which he could get the Federal government to stamp out the last vestiges of the fiber-hemp industry, which was in serious decline anyway.
 
ETA: I forgot to include another citation from the last article of the reputed societal effects of drugs generally. The lead sentence of the article, once you finally reach the end of the several lines of bold column headings that were the journalistic style of the day is:

last L.A. Times article quoted in my previous post said:
Ninety-nine per cent. of the present serices of hold-ups, burglaries, armed robberies and other deeds of violence being committed nightly in this city and sometimes referred to as the "crime wave" are the work of drug fiends seeking to get narcotics either directly or in order to secure the money with which to buy them.

This is the startling conclusion at which the LAPD have arrived from their investigation of the "crime wave".

This condition, in turn, is almost directly due to the rigid enforcement of the Harrison act and the State poison law...
Did you read that figure? Ninety-nine percent. Evidently there is no accounting for the scourge of predatory crime which had plagued humankind ever since there was such a thing as "mine" and "thine". Evidently, the ordinary garden variety crooks who were not "drug fiends", but simply in the game for their own personal gain, have virtually all gone straight. Most tellingly, nobody seems to have questioned the wisdom of the controls on drugs, even though this very article attributes the explosion in criminality to the laws themselves. In other words, these lines make the distinction between criminality allegedly caused by being under the influence of a drug, and that involving the breaking of laws in order to obtain the drugs.
 
Sounds like part of the plan to make everyone indebted to the Federal Reserve and their Federal Reserve (debt) notes. Make a way of life illegal. A way of life where people can be self sufficient by growing a plant that provides ingredients for clothing and shelter and medicine.
 
The only monster I see when I smoke is the drug war.lying with impunity. Of course in mendo the whole county is addicted to the money. 2Nd largest asset forfeiture in cali. 2Nd only to los angeles. I guess it's obvious why they are trying tax the legalization movments so hard. But we are lucky here. I always feel for people in Oklahoma!
 
It's so annoying how ignorant some people can be. I mean there are people who believe marijuana is just as bad as alcohol and even worse. Yet they have no problem with drinking or smoking cigarettes. Such a shame.