The Marihuana Tax Act Of 1937 ~ Anslinger, Oil, the Birth of Synthetics, and the Death of Hemp Farming

Congress signed The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 in August of that same year. The Marihuana Tax Act, however, was not strictly created to prohibit marihuana.

It was in the 1930s that Rockefeller (Standard Oil), DuPont, Dow, Hearst, and others were realizing huge profits from their investments and monopolies on oil, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and timber. They also realized that industrial hemp was an enormous threat to their investments. Industrial hemp was an excellent source of food oil, fuel, medicine, paper, and textiles.

Below are excerpts from transcripts from Henry Anslinger (head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and nephew of Andrew Mellon, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury) at a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee. These statements were made, and also used as propaganda by Hearst (who had owned timber and paper mills) in order to influence members to pass the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.



MR. ANSLINGER: Mr. Chairman, my name is H. J. Anslinger; I am Commissioner of Narcotics in the Bureau of Narcotics, in the Treasury Department.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Ways and Means Committee, this traffic in marihuana is increasing to such an extent that it has come to the be cause for the greatest national concern.

This drug is as old as civilization itself. Homer wrote about, as a drug that made me forget their homes, and that turned them into swine. In Persia, a thousand years before Christ, there was a religious and military order founded which was called the Assassins and they derived their name from the drug called hashish which is now known in this country as marihuana. They were noted for their acts of cruelty, and the word “assassin” very aptly describes the drug.

The plant from which the drugs comes is a hardy annual, growing from 3 to 16 feet in height.

Marihuana is the same as Indian hemp, hashish. It is sometimes cultivated in backyards. Over here in Maryland some of it has been found, and last fall we discovered three acres of it in the Southwest.

As I say, marihuana is the same as Indian hemp, and is sometimes found as a residual weed, and sometimes as the result of a dissemination of birdseed. It is known as cannabin, cannabis Americana, or Cannabis Sativa. Marihuana is the Mexican term for cannabis indica. We seem to have adopted the Mexican terminology, and we call it marihuana, which means good feeling. In the underworld it is referred to by such colorful, colloquial names as reefer, muggles, Indian hay, hot hay, and weed. It is known in various countries by a variety of names.

MR. LEWIS: In literature it is known as hashish, is it not?

MR. ANSLINGER: Yes, sir. There is a great deal of use of it in Egypt, particularly. It was found years ago in Egypt. The traffic has grown so that something like 14 percent of the population are addicts. In India it is sold over the counter to the addicts, direct, and there it is known as bhang and ganja.

At the Geneva Convention is 1895 the term “cannabis” included only the dried flowering or fruiting top of the pistillate plant as the plant source of the dangerous resin, from which the resin had not been extracted. That designation was used in the uniform State act. “but research that has been made during the past few months has shown that this definition is not sufficient, because it has been found by experiment that the leaves of the pistillate plant as well as the leaves of the staminate plant contain the active principle up to 50 percent of the strength prescribed by the United States Pharmacopoeia.

So we have urged the States to revise their definition so as to include all parts of the plant, as it now seems that the seeds and portions other than the dried flowering tops contain positively dangerous substances.

We were anticipating a challenge in one of the States of that old definition. There was a case in Florida recently in which a defendant appealed to a higher court on the ground that the prosecution had not proven that this was the dried flowered top of the pistillate plant.

In medical schools, the physician-to-be is taught that without opium he would be like a one-armed man. That is true, because you cannot get along without opium.

But here we have drug that is not like opium. Opium has all of the good of Dr. Jekyll and all the evil of Mr. Hyde. This drug is entirely the monster Hyde, the harmful effect of which cannot be measured.

MR. DINGELL: I want to be certain what this is. Is this the same weed that grows wild in some of our Western States which is sometimes called the loco weed?

MR. ANSLINGER: No, sir, that is another family.

MR. DINGELL: That is also a harmful drug-producing weed, is it not?

MR. ANSLINGER: Not to my knowledge. It is not used by humans.

THE CHAIRMAN: In what particular sections does this weed grow wild?

MR. ANSLINGER: In almost every state in the Union today.

MR. REED: It is not Indian hemp?

MR. ANSLINGER: It is Indian hemp. We have some specimens here.

MR. VINSON: When was this brought to your attention as being a menace among our own people?

MR. ANSLINGER: About ten years ago.

MR. VINSON: Why did you wait until 1937 to bring in a recommendation of this kind?

MR. ANSLINGER: Ten years ago we only heard about it throughout the Southwest. It is only in the last few years that it has become a national menace. It has grown like wildfire, but it has only become a national menace in the last three years. It is only in the last two years that we have had to send reports about it to the League of Nations. **Note: It was Rockefeller who supported the League of Nations**

MR. VINSON: We did not have to have any convention adopted by the League of Nations in order to legislate on this subject?

MR. ANSLINGER: No; but it was covered in one of the conventions.

MR. ANSLINGER: It is only in the last two years that we have a report of seizures anywhere but in the Southwest. Las year, New York State reported 195 tons seized, whereas before that I do not believe that New York could have reported one ton seized.

Let me quote from this report to the League of Nations:

This discussion disclosed that, from the medical point of view in some countries the use of Indian hemp in its various forms is regarded as in no way indispensable and that it is therefore possible that little objection would be raised to drafting limitations upon medical use of derivatives.

That is only last year.

Here is what Dr. J. Bouquet, hospital pharmacist at Tunis, and inspector of pharmacists at Tunis, says. He is the outstanding expert on cannabis in the world. He says:

To sum up, Indian hemp, like many other medicaments, has enjoyed for a time a vogue which is not justified by the results obtained. Therapeutics would not lose much if it were removed from the list of medicaments.

That comes from the greatest authority on cannabis in the world today.

MR. MCCORMACK: What are its first manifestations, a feeling of grandeur and self-exaltation, and things of that sort?

MR. ANSLINGER: It affects different individuals in different ways. Some individuals have a complete loss of sense of time or a sense of value. They lose their sense of place. That have an increased feeling of physical strength and power.

Some people will fly into a delirious rage, and they are temporarily irresponsible and may commit violent crimes. Other people will laugh uncontrollably. It is impossible to say what the effect will be on any individual. Those research men who have tried it have always been under control. They have always insisted upon that.

MR. MCCORMACK: Is it used by the criminal class?

MR. ANSLINGER: Yes, it is. It is dangerous to the mind and body, and particularly dangerous to the criminal type, because it releases all of the inhibitions.

MR. ANSLINGER: No, sir: he would not touch that. Dr. Walter Bromberger, a distinguished psychiatrist in New York has made this statement:

Young men between the ages of 16 and 25 are frequent smokers of marihuana; even boys of 10 to 14 are initiated (frequently in school groups); to them as other; marijuana holds out the thrill. Since the economic depression the number of marihuana smokers has increased by vagrant youths coming into contact with older psychopaths.”

It was this propaganda, these statements, made before a very small meeting of Congress. After 30 minutes, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was enacted, mainly with the support and by strategic moves by Rockefeller, Hearst, DuPont, Dow, and other corporate entities who were threatened by industrial hemp.

Reefer Madness, the marihuana propaganda film, was made in 1936, a precedent to the above hearings. The statements above by Anslinger were along the same lines as the dialogue before and during the film.

It was corporate greed and influence upon (and within) the government that allowed industrial hemp farming to be prohibited and replaced with foreign and domestic fossil fuels, synthetic chemicals and fibers, and heavy use of timber.

The propaganda is still with us, but I (and others) will continue to speak and educate about the TRUTH of hemp.

One response to “The Marihuana Tax Act Of 1937 ~ Anslinger, Oil, the Birth of Synthetics, and the Death of Hemp Farming

  1. Pingback: Hemp Farming in the Pacific Northwest ~ A Dream Coming True? « The Inspired Observer

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