STATEMENT OF DR. B. B. ROBINSON
BUREAU OF PLANT INDUSTRY DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
DR. ROBINSON: If fibres produced from plants were ranked in
accordance with their world production in tonnage, hemp would occupy a
position of probably third or fourth. It would be surpassed by cotton and
jute produced in India, and in some years by flax. That gives you some idea
of where it stands in relative importance.
Dr. Wright mentioned a matter that many of you are familiar with, the
fact of the importance that hemp played in our earlier Colonial days
before the introduction of the cotton gin.
The culture of hemp in the United States, I might say has decreased
because of the cheap competitive fibres which are produced by cheap labor
in foreign countries, and it is because of this cheapness that they are
substituted for hemp in many cases, and not because of the fact that they
have characteristics that are better than hemp for cordage or textile
The average world production between the years 1930 and 1954 for
hemp was about 750,000 tons. And now, during that same period in the
United States in this small industry we have produced about 500 tons. The
world production was produced mainly by Russia where I think 56% of the
fibre is produced, followed by Italy, Yugoslavia, Rumania as other
producing countries, During the past year or two we imported for domestic
consumption about 700 to 800 tons a year, so our total consumption,
including domestically produced fibre, and imported fibre runs about from
1500 to 2000 tons.
Now, many of you here may wonder why such a small industry as that
should be favored to continue on, particularly in the light of the
detrimental character of certain parts of the plant used illegally.
In the first place the United States is dependent upon the foreign production of fibres
other than cotton. The United States
imports annually about 300,000 tons of fibre used for cordage and textile
purposes. The estimated value last year was about $35,000,000. That does
not include some importations of India twine.
I do not mean to infer that if hemp were grown in this country, it
could substitute for all of this 300,000 tons imported, but it is the
principal fibre which we can get in the United atates, which could be
substituted in many cases if conditions arose to make it necessary.
The United States, is very thoroughly taken care of at present in
reference to supplying our own needs on this cordage fibre.
Another argument for the hemp industry is the adaptability of the
hemp plant to various regions of the country and because of suitability for
mechanical handling, and these are some of the reasons why the office
with which I am connected in the Department of Agriculture is interested
in seeing this small nucleus of hemp industry continued each year until it
is capable of supporting itself under economic conditions. I am speaking
more of the industry in Wisconsin rather than the promotional attempts to
grow hemp in Minnesota which one might speak of an unorthodox
processing. But this industry we have is capable at the present time of supporting itself
if public opinion does not force it to be
shut doan, or additional restrictions hamper it.
So, this industry could be benefited we naturally think, if this
Marihuana stigma could be removed. However, the Wisconsin operators are
not opposed to adjust themselves to the conditions and are very much
interested in trying to overcome this drug problem.
A couple of years ago when this problem was brought to the front
more vividly than in the past, the Department of Agriculture was naturally
interested in it, and the main way we could see to combat it was as to
how to get around it [sic]. Naturally there might be less restriction on the
production of hemp in this country if we could prove that in certain
sections of the country, because of climatic conditions, the drug was not
active, or if we could possibly get plants of varieties that lack the drug,
which is probably an Utopian view, or that had it in low concentration.
As a result we cooperated with the Bureau of Narcotics, in setting
up some experiments. The Bureau of Narcotics has conducted all of the
chemical work, and Dr. Marchett later on will speak of these tests. I do not
want to go too much into his field. But, we have attempted under this cooperative work to
remove or reduce the resinous substance from
You gentlemen who are chemists and pharmacologists can assist the
Agricultural program by furnishing the Agriculture Department some
working tools or some tests by which we can tell the presence or absence
of this drug, or its activity. It may be said that I am throwing it all on the
chemists. I am not trying to do that, but we do need something to work
So far we naturally have resorted to the Beam tests, the
significance of which we do not know with certainty, but in the work we
undertook last year, it was the only simple tool which we could work
Now last summer out at Arlington farm close by, we planted a field
in which there were 98 small plots of hemp that were set up in
conformity with the statistical method of analysis of variances by a man
We obtained statistically significant differences between the
varieties using the alkaline but did not obtain it using the acid test. The
question may arise, then, as to which is the most accurate of the tests in
measuring the presence or absence of the drug.
In reference to that, the question of the region of the hemp may play
some importance. The native home of hemp is supposedly in central Asia, —and the hemp of
Chinese origin which
has been distributed throughout the world has practically always been
used for fibre purposes.
The hemp that has come from India has been of the narcotic type and
has not been cultivated generally for fibre. It has been cultivated for the
drug. I wish I knew the history of this a little better, but from what I have
been able to learn from others, hemp does not appear to constitute a
narcotic problem in China. That is of a fibrous variety, and there is a great
difference between that hemp and the hemp that came from India.
With reference to our test at Arlington, the narcotic chemists
selected samples at three different periods for the acid and alkaline test.
We got a difference, mathematically significant between those tests. That
is, the first sampling which I think was in the early part of June, was
different from the later two samplings in that it was lower in that
characteristic of activity, the numbers they gave on the Beam test.
Actually, the last test was a little lower than the middle test, but it
was not significantly lower.
We arranged 8 different fertilizer treatments for the various plots
and found that the fertilizer used had no effect on the strength or
incidence either the acid or alkaline test.
Because of the fertilizer result it would appear that soil vs. variations
that occurred probably did not produce any differences or that the soil does
not play a part.
With reference to climate, so far we have not made a test for we have
only had the work at Arlington. But we plan next summer, if things go well at
Arlington, to conduct a test in Wisconsin. We have some cooperative agents in
Mississippi and we thought we could get a test farm there. It has been
suggested that we try to get one other region, Arizona or New Mexico, or out
in that section. So far, we have not made arrangements, but, if we could get
these various locations in the United States, then we could have a set-up
whereby we could evolute [sic] climatic conditions in reference to certain
tests, the Beam test or some other one if you can furnish it. These are the
results which we have obtained so far in the agricultural program to get away
from this drug.
There have been several reasons I have not brought out as to why we
thought we could get somewhere. We know by handling the plants that some
of them are very resinous, and some are not.
So, we are receptive to the work you men will do to give us some means
of testing our plants so as to allow us to produce agriculturally some results which we
hope will help the industry.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: Thank you very muckh Dr. Robinson. You
recall what I said about the Turkish annual report for the year 1937 in
which it is said that Cannabis sativa with long stalks is grown for
industrial purposes in various parts of Anatolia; that the fibre is used for
the manufacture of ropes and sacks, and its resin content is so slight that
it could not be used for the extraction of a narcotic drug. It might be
interesting to get some Turkish seed.
MR. WOLLNER: We have not had a great deal of success as regards
those statements. We obtained some seed submitted by Dr. Bouquet and I
believe Dr. Robinson planted some of them, without any success.
DR. ROBINSON: We planted them under favorable conditions last
spring. Roughly we may have gotten in the field 200 or 300 plants, and
after our first Beam test it was estimated we had about 100 left. About
the first of August, I came back from a trip to the west, and we el-
iminated about two-thirds of the remainder leaving only about 40. I have
harvested about 20 of these one-half were males, and we sent 10 from
that collection over to Dr. Matchett to run an alkaline Beam test on. I was
able to obtain out of that .about one-third negative and the rest positive.
MR. WOLLNER: Was the amount of resin in these plants comparable to
that in other plants?
DR. ROBINSON: In harvesting these plants, we merely stripped the
seed in the field to keep the birds from getting it and I would say that the
African plant was more resinous than the Manchurian plant. It may be that
the African plant was later in maturing, but still, by comparison with the
Manchurian plant, it had more resin. My hand was simply caked with resin
in stripping the plant for the seed.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: The Indian Government report for 1934
shows that where they did not have this type of hemp all of the resin was
imported from Central Asia.
It is stated that the hemp cultivated in Europe does not carry the
intoxicating properties of Indian hemp. While it is believed that the
European hemp does not contain as much resin as is to be found in hemp
usually produced in Asia, the production of the active resin is particularly
variable, and there are some times great differences in quantity depending
on the altitude of the place of cultivation.
Are there any questions that you care to ask, Dr. Robinson?
DR. HIBBEN: I would like to ask if you made any experiments
artificially in the new varieties by radiation?
DR. ROBINSON: We had a program for a number of years on hemp, and
my predecessor, Mr. Dewey, who unfortunately could not be here this
morning, reached retirement age three years ago, and our hemp program
So far we have not gone into that, but to some extent we have
considered it. These other methods we have approached seemed to have
possibilities of results if the tests mean anything.
I think this next spring, we should be able to plant these negative
seeds we have, and those which have tested negative three different times
and have been pollinated by plants in three different tests, and we should
be able to give the chemists something definite to test.
DR. MUNCH: It is my recollection, when Mr. Dewey made a test of the
original plants growing in Arlington back in 1922, we found different
physiological portents in the male and the female but, at that time, Mr.
Dewey had seed he had obtained from various parts of the world, and it is
my impression that after about three years of cultivation at Arlington, the
growth characteristics of all of these plants tended to the same type. In
other words, they all tended to hemp of a certain height, —as I say that occurred
after three years of cultivation.
DR. ROBINSON: I think that more or less that result is obtained.
Professor Wright who may have had a little closer touch with the problem
could answer you better. Wouldn't that be your opinion, Professor Wright?
DR. WRIGHT: Yes, under the method used of applying open pollinating,
that was the tendency as far as our observation went,—that they were
more or less alike.
DR. ROBINSON: In reference to that, these stalks of hemp we obtained
last year from these various sources, have all been isolated, so they have
not been cross pollinated.
DR. MUNCH I do not know where Mr. Young of Florence, South Carolina,
got his idea for the raising of Cannabis for a medicinal purpose -
DR. ROBINSON: He got it from Mr. Dewey.
DR. MUNCH: There was a material decrease in the material before he
finally abandoned that project.
DR. ROBINSON: I do not know how he obtained it all, or that he
obtained it all from Mr. Dewey, but as I recall, he did.
DR. MUNCH: There is one other question, and that is as to the method
by which the seeds themselves were obtained,-is that of any interest to you?
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: Yes, Dr. Wright, can you give us something
on the that?
DR. WRIGHT: Commercial seed used for commercial planting?
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: Yes.
DR. WRIGHT: I do not have any notes on that. The seed are grown from
plants cultivated principally for seed; I mean the ordinary hemp which has
been planted for seed similar to corn. It is planted in rows, all harvested
by hand, and put in large shocks like those in Kentucky. It is harvested in
the latter part of September or the first of October in the section in
which it is grown. Then the shocks are dumped over on large canvasses,
smoothed out on the ground, and the stubble removed and beat out with
sticks in the old fashioned method. This is the only place in the United
States producing this commercially.
DR. MATCHETT: Isn't most of the seed planted here produced in
DR. WRIGHT: I do not get the question.
DR. MATCHETT: Aren't most of the seeds produced in foreign
DR. WRIGHT: Most of the seed produced for Commercial purposes originated in China, central
China or towards the south part of China and was carried here for cultivation.
MR. WOLLNER: I believe what Dr. Matchett means is the commercial
crop that is grown for instance in Wisconsin, does that originate from
seed grown in Kentucky, or the Far East?
DR. WRIGHT: All of the hemp planted in the United States for
commercial purposes comes from Kentucky. That is, all of the legitimate
hemp comes from seed grown in Kentucky. Does that answer the question?
DR. MATCHETT: Yes.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: Dr. Matchett, you have been collaborating
with Dr. Robinson in these experiments at Arlington. Can you tell us what
results you obtained? Dr. Robinson has told us quite a lot about the
results, but I think you can probably elaborate upon them.
DR. MATCHETT: First of all I might state we made these tests in the
manner that was published by us last year, and in the treatment we
divided the tests into six categories, according to the depth of color that
we obtained, beginning with zero for negative plants. These plants which,
gave us only traces of color, which we felt should not be overlooked, but
which we also felt would not constitute wholly satisfactory
identification of the plant, were designated number one.
Those plants characterized as 2, gave strong responses, definitely
positive, and those as 3, 4, and 5 responded with increasing intensity in
Briefly we found on variety No. 1, a Rumanian variety 97.5% of the
plants tested would have been satisfactorily identified by the Beam test.
That is assuming for the moment the single test would be sufficient,
which I believe is generally understood not to be so.
Variety No. 2, another Rumanian variety, gave us 100%.
Variety No. 3, the third Rumanian variety, 87% of satisfactory
Variety No. 5, Manchuria, 22.9% satisfactory response.
Variety No. 6, Chinese, 13.8% satisfactory.
Variety No. 9, Italian, 98.1%
There is a very decided difference between the Chinese, and
Manchurian varieties on the one hand and the Rumanian and Italian
varieties on the other.
Now there were some very interesting things in reference to the
differences between the three test periods.
It is true that there was one rather decided change, particularly in
the second test, but there was not as significant difference between the
number of negative plants, nor was the difference worked with reference
to category No. l.
The interesting thing was where we had many in category 2 in the
first testing, in the next testing a considerable increase appeared in
category 4, with a corresponding decrease in category 2.
The actual number of negative plants was not significantly
different. I believe the first test gave us 36, the second test 32, and the
third test 40.
During the course of our activities we found that molding had no
apparent effect on one alkaline test response of either negative or
positive plants. We permitted them to mold in a. very moist place for a
period of five weeks. There was no change in the Beam test.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: I want to ask Dr. Wright a question. In
harvesting the plant, Doctor, we understand that the farmer usually
harvests it before the resin reaches its highest stage. Is that true?
DR. WRIGHT: I will say yes, not knowing when the highest stage of
the resin is reached myself, but from what I could gather from talking to
Mr. Wollner and Dr. Link and those most familiar with the subject. It is cut
in the mid-blossom stage, and from what I understand the plants are
usually expected to have a high content of resin at that time.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: In our eradication program, 16,000 acres
have been gone over, and as I understand it we will also have to go over
that same acreage during the coming year, and probably the third year. Do
you know how long that seed will remain dormant in the soil?
DR. WRIGHT: I can only give you some guess on that. It is quite
variable, and how long the seed will remain in the soil is simply my guess.
If it is harvested the first year, before pollination occurs I would expect
that to handle the situation under most circumstances. I am basing that on
practical observation and experience, but if there is a repetition and the
plant does become a volunteer plant, if the same process as followed for
two years we could expect almost complete eradication.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: What seed could replace the hemp seed as
bird food? There is a lot of growth throughout the country due to the
casting about of bird seed. Now, however we require sterilization of hemp
seed. We have not reached the 100% point in sterilization but the seed
people tell us they should sell the seed in 5% mixtures; but even 5%,
mixtures if the seed is not properly sterilized, might produce some wild
growth. Have you any suggestions on that?
DR. WRIGHT: I believe that these gentlemen here from the animal
biology department might be better able to judge of that than I am.
DR., COUCH: As a matter of fact, I do not know anything on that point,
and we have not gone into it at all. I am extremely interested however.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: I think there should be some discussion
as to the relative activities between the male and the female plants.
DR. BLATT: May I ask a question of Dr. Robinson? As I understand it,
the average production is about 500 tons a year. Is that 500 tons of fibre?
DR. ROBINSON: Yes. This past summer, we had 1300 acres of hemp
produced commercially in this country, and it has been running about that
acreage with the exception that in 1934 and 1935 this acreage appeared in
Minnesota, and in 1936 and 1937 we had a big acreages in Illinois, but
those were acreages planted, you might say, for other purposes than the
ordinary use, for there was an idea of producing fibre as a substitute for a
wool and various things of that nature. Those industries that attempted to
do that, for one reason or another, have dropped by the wayside, and 1000
to 1500 acres is the normal hemp production each year in the United
MR. WOLLNER: Professor Wright, you heard Commissioner Anslinger's
question for information on the relationship between male and female
plants. You are undoubtedly aware of most of the discussions in the past
years on the subject of Marihuana, and that it has centered around the
female plant. As a matter of fact, I believe the United States
Pharmacopoeia refers to the flowering type of the female plant, and it is
stated that Marihuana comes mostly from the female plant. I wonder
whether historically that might not have arisen from the fact that
possibly the male plant flowered at an earlier period than the female
plant in the growth of the plant itself, and at the time of harvesting by
force of circumstance they were limited to harvesting female tops.
DR. WRIGHT: Not actually knowing it, I could not say, of course, but I
am sure that is the answer. In the male plant the leaves drop off long
before, the female plant, and when the traffickers have reached the plant
the leaves have practically all gone from the male, but the females are
MR. LEVINE: Is there any distinction between the fiber of males and
DR. WRIGHT: You see, in fibre, they are cut at an early stage when the
female plants are just forming the bud, and the male plants just shedding the pollen.
MR. WOLLNER: Then the male plant would grow as tall as the female
DR. WRIGHT: Yes, they do usually reach the same height.
MR. WOLLNER. When produced for fibre, the plant does not reach the
height we experienced in Arlington.
DR. WRIGHT: It has reached its full height when cut for fibre. You
planted it in rows, too, which would add to the height.
MR. HERWICK: I should like to ask Professor Wright a question as to
whether or not there was any quantity of Cannabis raised in this country
for commercial drug purposes.
DR. WRIGHT: I cannot answer that question.
DR. ROBINSON: Undoubtedly there are others here who could furnish
that information. I do not know of a single case where any of it has been
furnished companies for that purpose, but I think there are companies that
get it for that purpose.
MR. SMITH: There was a concern that grew it in Indianapolis several
years ago for their own purposes.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: Most of the pharmaceutical houses before
enactment of Federal Marihuana Legislation obtained their Cannabis supply from the Middle
West. There was relatively little importation of Cannabis for medical purposes.
DR. COUCH: In the Food and Drug Administration, we occasionally see
a questionnaire sent to the importers more or less of the patent medicine
type, and also some well known pharmaceutical houses where cannabis is
still found in the formula for certain products. Under the Pure Food and
Drug Act, we have some requirements on that, and we are informed what
the source of it is, whether gotten in this country or through importation.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: I think the stocks of some of the larger
houses who are still putting this out are sufficient to carry them over for
a considerable period of time. Some of the firms transferred or sold their
product to other houses, but I know of a number of occasions where raw
material was obtained in this country for the local trade.
DR. WRIGHT: I have been informed by Doctors that they did get a
considerable amount of their prepared processed material from Mexico. I
was wondering if there was any processing plant in Mexico.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: I did not know they imported it for
medical uses from Mexico.
DR. MUNCH: Many of the commercial manufacturers have grown it, but
because of the extreme variability of the potency of the material they
were growing themselves, they attempted to import it from Madras or
Bombay. But the material imported was often weaker than that grown in
this country. So the next step was to purchase from Mr. Young at
Charleston, South Carolina, or the general neighborhood of Lexington,
Kentucky, or Nantou, Illinois. But, those sources folded up within the last
ten years and there has not been any substantial production of material in
the United States since then. I tested most of the material grown in this
country that has been offered.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: I suppose that seed came from Kentucky,
which in turn came from China.
DR. MUNCH: That is true, but I have tested material grown in the
United States commercially that was more potent in its physiological
aspects than that imported from India.
MR. FULLER: I think that came about as a result of the interest that
developed in the production of it during the war, or just before we got into
the war, because at that time I was in the field myself and grew it com-
mercially for four or five years in Virginia from that same stock of seed
that Young used in South Carolina, and which was obtained from the Bureau of Plant
Industry. I do not know whether he got it from Dewey or not.
The plan we adopted was to cull out as much as possible the tall
plants for purely commercial reasons. We could not get so much material
from the tall plants. In other words, bushy plants grew up six and seven
feet high, giving much more drug than those that grew up taller but not so
bushy, When we considered it the proper time, you would grab hold of it. It
felt like a sponge. We collected enough material then to produce a drug
very much more potent than any imported material that came into the
It was our experience that it really did not make much difference
where the hemp came from, after it had been grown here and become
acclimated to our conditions you could select bushy plants from it, and it
was just as potent. It did not make any difference where it came from. We
used to cull our plants, particularly the male plants. I used to think it did
not have much effect, but be that as it may, that was what we did. I do not
think we could have ever used the male plants anyway for, in stripping,
the amount of material obtained was so small.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: How did you strip the plant?
MR. FULLER: It was a very easy process. It was done by women, and
they used gloves. In all of the years we were producing that material as far as we knew,
there never was a case of where anybody used it for illegitimate purposes. In fact at that
time, I do
not think there was any Marihuana used. But, it did not pay us to go on.
I think a great deal of the Cannabis sold in the drug trade came from
the wild materials that grew in the Middle West and one of the largest
dealers in drugs handled that crop. I knew him very well, and he told me at
DR. BROMBERG: What further preparation was there after stripping
for medicinal purposes?
MR. FULLER: We just baled it and sold it.
DR. BROMBERG: Any other processing necessary?
MR. FULLER: In the manufacturing of medicinals, it has to be
extracted usually with alcohol end concentrated down to a solid extract.
There was no attempt, and I do not think there has been any attempt made,
to separate for commercial purposes the active principle, for even with
all of the work done, we do not know what it is.
MR. WOLLNER: Did you find, Mr. Fuller, in your growth of the plant
commercially, that arid seasons or drier seasons would increase, or
produce an increased quantity of resin?
MR. FULLER: I do not think we noticed any difference. Now, I was in
that portion of Virginia very near to Washington on the first plateau, six
or eight miles out, and some of those summers were very dry. We would
get sometimes six weeks without rain, and it did not seem to affect the
yield at all. One season, I recall particularly, there was a great deal of
rain, and the crop was just about the same.
MR. WOLLNER: I would like to offer this thought to the Department of
Agriculture. The statement is invariably made by people in Europe and the
Far East and Near East that the amount of resin produced by a plant is in a
measure proportionate to the rainfall, and the less rainfall the more resin.
I wonder whether we are actually dealing with the question of the
variation in the amount of resin produced as against the amount of resin
exuded. That is to say, isn't it possible as a result of a condition, all that
happens is the plant structure, so to speak, shrinks to evaporation and
greater amount of resin appears on the surface, but the absolute quantity
contained by the flowering tops and the leaves is the same ?
DR. ROBINSON: I think your point is well taken, and it was my
intention to go into some of those points in those tests throughout the United States. We
collected material over at Arlington Farm last summer at various stages for the purpose of
making a microtome test of these little pockets. So far we have not had
time to do very much on that, and there are gentlemen here who have done
more. We actually found those pockets present in pants two weeks old and
on varying specimens which we have in our office. We want back to plants
that were less [than] three weeks old and we found there hashish material.
Now in older plants in some of the specimens we have of Indian hemp, it
seemed to be exuded from the cells all over the surface, and I imagine in
such plants as that, if it exuded if you touched it, much more would come
off than if it had not exuded. Is that what you mean, certain climatic
conditions would cause cells to erupt, and the viscosity of the exudate
would be such that it would spread.
MR. WOLLNER: I am thinking in terms of opium or the poppy. You can
get opium from the pod without scarifying, and the thought struck me, in
the case of Cannabis, since the leaf is always extracted in this country,
and since in the past the process has been of rubbing it from the outside,
in the East, they get more resin than we do, due to the fact that more has
exuded but not more produced.
DR. HIBBEN: There is another factor involved in the question about
rainfall, and the formation of resin, and that is perhaps the production of
resin would depend upon the amount of sunshine, and the more rainfall, the
less sunshine. In tomato plants for example, the Department of
Agriculture has done a great deal of experimentation as to foliage, and [it]
has been shown that the quantity of foliage depends greatly upon the
duration of sunshine the plant has received.
MR. WOLLNER: I had not thought of that.
DR. HIBBEN: Some plants require a great deal of sunshine.
DR. WRIGHT: May I ask you this question, - I was interested in the
fact that you selected the bushy plant believing it more profitable to do
MR. FULLER: Yes.
DR. WRIGHT: Did you have any observations at all to indicate they
were more potent or more satisfactory to the purchaser than the more
slender plants; have you any reason to believe there is a difference
between the two?
MR. FULLER: No, I do not think there is any difference, for the green
leaf from the male plant yields resin, and as far as we could determine,
the resin was just as potent as the female. You do not get so much per plant. That was
what we were interested in, but, as far as quality is concerned, I do not
think there was any difference.
COMMISSIONER ANSLINGER: And now, Gentlemen, if we have no more
questions on the agricultural phase of the problem we will proceed to a
little more controversial subject. The pharmacological phase. I would like
to have Dr. Munch give us a little history of the pharmacology of