Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why are Cannabis and Hemp Illegal?



History 
Hemp was found to have an abundance of extraordinary uses, such as the manufacturing of textiles, rope, paper, clothing, boat sails, animal bedding, garden mulch, fuel, and an assortment of building materials. But it wasn't just versatile, it was usually much stronger and more durable than its counterparts. Hemp was widely used throughout the American Colonies and States after King James I - the same of the Bible bearing his name - ordered the Colonies in 1611 to begin widely producing it to help bolster the English economy. Source


In the United States, the plant was well known from the early 1600′s, but did not reach public awareness as a recreational drug until the early 1900′s.

America’s first marijuana law was enacted at Jamestown Colony, Virginia in 1619. It was a law “ordering” all farmers to grow Indian hempseed. There were several other “must grow” laws over the next 200 years (you could be jailed for not growing hemp during times of shortage in Virginia between 1763 and 1767), and during most of that time, hemp was legal tender (you could even pay your taxes with hemp) Hemp was such a critical crop for a number of purposes (including essential war requirements – rope, etc.) that the government went out of its way to encourage growth.

However, one of the first state laws outlawing marijuana may have been influenced, not just by Mexicans using the drug, but, oddly enough, because of Mormons using it. Mormons who traveled to Mexico in 1910 came back to Salt Lake City with marijuana. The church’s reaction to this may have contributed to the state’s marijuana law.

During this time, the United States was also dealing with alcohol prohibition, which lasted from 1919 to 1933. Alcohol prohibition was extremely visible and debated at all levels, while drug laws were passed without the general public’s knowledge. National alcohol prohibition happened through the mechanism of an amendment to the constitution.
Earlier (1914), the Harrison Act was passed, which provided federal tax penalties for opiates and cocaine.
The federal approach is important. It was considered at the time that the federal government did not have the constitutional power to outlaw alcohol or drugs. It is because of this that alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amendment.
At that time in our country’s history, the judiciary regularly placed the tenth amendment in the path of congressional regulation of “local” affairs, and direct regulation of medical practice was considered beyond congressional power under the commerce clause (since then, both provisions have been weakened so far as to have almost no meaning).
Since drugs could not be outlawed at the federal level, the decision was made to use federal taxes as a way around the restriction. In the Harrison Act, legal uses of opiates and cocaine were taxed (supposedly as a revenue need by the federal government, which is the only way it would hold up in the courts), and those who didn’t follow the law found themselves in trouble with the treasury department.
In 1930, a new division in the Treasury Department was established — the Federal Bureau of Narcotics — and Harry J. Anslinger was named director. This, if anything, marked the beginning of the all-out war against marijuana. Source.
Hemp Facts                                                                                                                  
  • Refusing to grow hemp in America during the 17th and 18th Centuries was against the law. You could be jailed in Virginia for refusing to grow hemp from 1763 to 1769; Hemp in Colonial Virginia, G. M. Herdon.
  • Hemp called 'Billion Dollar Crop.' It was the first time a cash crop had a business potential to exceed a billion dollars; Popular Mechanics, Feb., 1938.
  • The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.
  • The first crop grown in many states was hemp. 1850 was a peak year for Kentucky producing 40,000 tons. Hemp was the largest cash crop until the 20th Century; State Archives.
  • George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers grew hemp; Washington and Jefferson Diaries. Jefferson smuggled hemp seeds from China to France then to America.
  • Hemp cultivation and production do not harm the environment. The USDA Bulletin #404 concluded that hemp produces 4 times as much pulp with at least 4 to 7 times less pollution. From Popular Mechanics, Feb 1938.
  • In 1916, the U.S. Government predicted that by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees need to be cut down. Government studies report that 1 acre of hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees. Plans were in the works to implement such programs; Department of Agriculture
  • The last commercial hemp fields were planted in Wisconsin in 1957.
  • Read more fact here...


DuPont
DuPont had just gotten a patent in the wood paper pulp industry, and was working on another for nylon and rayon. Had hemp remained legal, DuPont would most likely not have achieved its current standing as the world's second largest chemical company.Source

In 1937, Dupont patented the processes to make plastics from oil and coal. Dupont's Annual Report urged stockholders to invest in its new petrochemical division. Synthetics such as plastics, cellophane, celluloid, methanol, nylon, rayon, Dacron, etc., could now be made from oil. Natural hemp industrialization would have ruined over 80% of Dupont's business.

William Randolph Hearst
According to W.A. Swanberg’s extensive biography Citizen Hearst, the Hearst chain was actually the nation’s largest purchaser of newsprint — and when the price rose from $40 a ton to over $50 in the late 1930s, he fell so deep in debt to Canadian paper producers and banks that he had to sell his prized art collection to avert foreclosure. It therefore seems that it would have been in Hearst’s interest to promote cheap hemp paper substitutes, had that been a viable alternative. Source

William Randolph Hearst's empire of newspapers began publishing what is known as "Yellow journalism", demonizing the cannabis plant and putting emphasis on connections between cannabis and violent crime. Source

Andrew Mellon
Andrew Mellon (of Mellon Bank) was Mr. DuPont's financier. The only two times the DuPont company ever borrowed money from Mellon Bank, Andrew Mellon just happened to be Secretary of the Treasury at the time.Source

They argue that with the invention of the decorticator hemp became a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry. They also believe that Hearst felt that this was a threat to his extensive timber holdings. Mellon was Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America and had invested heavily in nylon, DuPont's new synthetic fiber, and considered its success to depend on its replacement of the traditional resource, hemp. According to other researchers there were other things than hemp more important for DuPont in the mid-1930s: to finish the product (nylon) before its German competitors, to start plants for nylon with much larger capacity, etc. Source


Harry J. Anslinger

(May 20, 1892 – November 14, 1975) 

Writing for The American Magazine, the best examples were contained in his "Gore File", a collection of quotes from police reports, by later opponents described as police-blotter-type narratives of heinous cases, most with no substantiation, linking graphically depicted offenses with the drug. Anslinger sometimes used the very brief and concise language in many police reports when he wrote about drug crimes.


Harry Anslinger was Mellon's nephew-in-law, and was the drug czar at the time. When Congress formed the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in 1930 - a department of The Secretary of the Treasury - Mellon made him head of the department, a position he held for 31 years until John F. Kennedy finally canned him because he was so crooked and rotten. When the FBN's budget was cut by $200,000, Anslinger decided to introduce a new drug "menace," and tried to get Congress to pass the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, which would require tax stamps on all marijuana transaction (though he planned not to actually issue any of these stamps). Source

Conspiracy 
Hearst and DuPont, scared by the prospect of hemp’s resurrection as a competitor for their products, schemed to eliminate the plant.
Hemp Became Illegal
On April 14, 1937, the Prohibitive Marihuana Tax Law or the bill that outlawed hemp was directly brought to the House Ways and Means Committee. This committee is the only one that can introduce a bill to the House floor without it being debated by other committees. In September of 1937, hemp became illegal. Congress banned hemp because it was said to be the most violence-causing drug known. Anslinger, head of the Drug Commission for 31 years, promoted the idea that marihuana made users act extremely violent.

United States
In 1968 the United States Department of the Treasury subsidiary the Bureau of Narcotics and the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare subsidiary the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control merged to create the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs as a United States Department of Justice subsidiary.

Richard Nixon
In 1973 President Richard Nixon's "Reorganization Plan Number Two" proposed the creation of a single federal agency to enforce federal drug laws and Congress accepted the proposal, as there was concern regarding the growing availability of drugs. As a result, on July 1, 1973, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) and the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) merged together to create the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). On December 1, 1975, the Supreme Court ruled that it was "not cruel or unusual for Ohio to sentence someone to 20 years for having or selling cannabis.

Ronald Regan
During the Reagan Administration the Sentencing Reform Act provisions of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 created the Sentencing Commission, which established mandatory sentencing guidelines. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 reinstated mandatory prison sentences, including large scale cannabis distribution. Later an amendment created a three-strikes law, which created mandatory life sentences for repeat drug offenders and allowed the death penalty to be used against "drug kingpins. Source

Robert Randall
In 1978 Robert Randall sued the federal government for arresting him for using cannabis to treat his glaucoma. The judge ruled Randall needed cannabis for medical purposes and required the Food and Drug Administration set up a program to grow cannabis on a farm at the University of Mississippi and to distribute 300 cannabis cigarettes a month to Randall. In 1992 George H. W. Bush discontinued the program after Randall tried to make AIDS patients eligible for the program. Thirteen people were already enrolled and were allowed to continue receiving cannabis cigarettes; today the government still ships cannabis cigarettes to seven people. Irvin Rosenfeld, who became eligible to receive cannabis from the program in 1982 to treat rare bone tumors, urged the George W. Bush administration to reopen the program; however, he was unsuccessful.Source


Reefer Madness (1936)
Directed by Louis J. Gasnier 
Writing credits Lawrence Meade (story) 
Arthur Hoerl (screenplay)




Race & Culture Theory

In the United States, marijuana prohibition began partly as a throw-in on laws restricting opiates and cocaine to prescription-only use, and partly in Southern and Western states and cities where blacks and Mexican immigrants were smoking it. 

In the West and Southwest, anti-Mexican sentiment quickly came into play. California’s first marijuana arrests came in a Mexican neighborhood in Los Angeles in 1914, according to Gieringer, and the Los Angeles Times said "sinister legends of murder, suicide and disaster" surrounded the drug. The city of El Paso, Texas, outlawed reefer in 1915, two years after a Mexican thug, "allegedly crazed by habitual marijuana use," killed a cop. By the time Prohibition was repealed in 1933, 30 states had some form of pot law.



Leary v. United States
Leary v. United States, 395 U.S. 6 (1969), a U.S. Supreme Court case dealing with the constitutionality of Marijuana Tax Act. Timothy Leary, a professor and activist, was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the Marijuana Tax Act. Leary challenged the act on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated the Fifth Amendment. The unanimous opinion of the court was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marijuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Thus, Leary's conviction was overturned. However, Congress responded shortly after by passing the Controlled Substances Act to continue the prohibition of certain drugs in the United States. Source

Advocacy
Several U.S.-based advocate groups seek to modify the drug policy of the United States to decriminalize cannabis. These groups include Law Enforcement Against Prohibition,Students for Sensible Drug Policy, The Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, and Americans for Safe Access.

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