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The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937


by Frank Ridgway

 Hemp Regulated


 October 10, 1937

 Every farmer who raises hemp for any purpose is required to secure a producer's permit under provisions of the federal marihuana tax act of 1937, which became effective Oct. 1. All producers must be registered by Oct 16, according to regulations just received in Chicago by Mrs. George Bass, supervisor of the federal narcotic bureau for Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

 Persons who violate the act or fail to fulfill its requirements are liable to punishment, the maximum liability being a fine of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment of not more than five years, or both for each offense.  

Application Filed 

The Tribune's Wheaton farm manager already has filed his application for a producer's permit with collector of internal revenue in Chicago, paying a fee of $1 as required by the new law.

 The permit was required because the farm has curing in the field fifteen acres of hemp waiting to be delivered to a manufacturer who intends to use the plants in making fiber products.

 As long as the hemp is kept on the farm the manager is responsible for its safe keeping. Hemp belongs to the group of plants known botanically as Cannabis sativa L. The tops of hemp and other Cannabis plants are used for their intoxicating effect when chewed or smoked. The dried material from the tops is used in making marihuana cigarettes.

 Guard Is Required.

 Because of the danger of the hemp being stolen and used unlawfully as marihuana, Mrs. Bass has asked the Tribune farm manager to guard the field day and night. She has instructed him to keep a night watchman on duty while the hemp is going through the curing stage. In addition to being guarded the hemp is protected by a tall woven wire fence.

 Mrs. Bass says that as the law and its regulations are now written, the whole plant with the heads left on cannot be transferred from the farm to anyone else, even a registered manufacturer, without paying the federal treasury $1 an ounce for the marihuana or tops of the plants. If transferred to an unregistered manufacturer who has not paid the required tax of $24, the farm must pay $100 an ounce for the marihuana.

 May Be Better to Burn It.

Since the farm is to receive only $15 a ton for the dry hemp plants it is obvious that it would be prohibitive to transfer hemp either to a registered or unregistered buyer. It would also be impractical to remove the tops of dangerous portion of the plant and deliver the harmless stalks.

If these requirements are rigidly adhered to by administrators of the marihuana law the farm manager likely would decide the best way out would be to burn the entire crop harvested from the fifteen acres raised this year and discontinue his efforts to aid in the development of hemp as a commercial cash crop for farmers in this country.

 Mrs. Bass says that officials responsible for the administration of the law recognized this difficulty and are making careful study of the act and its regulations to see what can be done to cooperate with hemp for useful and harmless purposes.


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