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The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937



MR. JOHNSON: Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am representing Chempsco, Inc. of Winona. Minn, and the Hemp chemical corporation of Mankato, Min..

These people and those associated with them in Minnesota had 2,200 acres of hemp last year, and they use only the fiber and the stalk. I want to say in the beginning that they are heartily in favor of this bill. They think the use of marihuana ought to be prohibited and they feel further that these legitimate industries dealing with hemp and the stalk owe a duty to the Government and to the Treasury to cooperate in every way. I would even go so far as to say that f the do not cooperate they could readily visualize themselves as entirely out of business, because no industry, legitimate or otherwise, has any right in their viewpoint and in mine to be so conducted in the United States as to aid in the dissemination of any narcotics of any kind.

We have no dispute whatever with Mr. Hester and Mr. Anslinger. or the Government. We have gone over the testimony carefully, and we find that the testimony of Mr. Hester and others shows rather definitely that there is not deleterious matter or property in the stalk of the fiber. As I showed the chairman the other day, the leaves and the seeds are the part of the plant that contains marihuana.

The fiber, stalk, or hurd has nothing in it and the fiber in which we are interested is an important part of the industry. It is used in the making off fine papers, condenser tissues, carbon paper, bible paper, and all other types of papers, including cigarette papers.

As there is no marihuana, and no resin in the stalk, we think the phraseology should be changed in the bill to some degree, not to change the merits of the bill, but the phraseology. so that it can be made clear that there iis no deleterious property in the stalk or in the fiber. Very great industries can be worked up in this country. I can readily visualize without much difficulty 25,000 or 30,000 or 40,000 acres of hemp with 2000,000 acres of flax being used in the paper industry and in the plastic industry, concerning which the gentleman just testified.

I would like to suggest a change in subsection (b) at the top of page 2 in the bill. I do not think the use of the word "marihuana" belongs in this measure, because it is a word that came up from Mexico and attached to those cigarettes. I see no use in it. This is hemp that is being grown, not marihuana. I am going to offer these suggestion. I have handed a copy to Mr. Anslinger, and I wish to offer these suggestion. I have handed a copy to Mr. Anslinger, and I wish to read it for the committee. Amend section 1, subsection (b) to read as follows:

The term "marihuana" means such parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not, which consists of the leaves of the plant, the seeds thereof, the resin extracted from any part of the plant, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds, or resin; but shall not include ----

SENATOR BROWN: Mr. Johnson, as I understand it the petals of the flower are the most dangerous.

MR. JOHNSON: Yes; which eventually become the seeds. The flower becomes seed.

SENATOR BROWN: It is used, as I understand it, as a petal. It is not ground up?

MR. JOHNSON: The leaves.

SENATOR HERRING: Is not the bloom used the same as the leaves.?

MR, HESTER: Oh, yes, the flower on the tops.

MR. JOHNSON: The flower and the seeds.

SENATOR BROWN: It seems to me that you did not cover the flowers.

MR. JOHNSON: I tried to copy in detail the words now in the bill. I am copying the bill at this time, except as to the insertion of the word "such" where they say "all" in the first line. they have not said "flowers" so I did not say "flowers".

SENATOR BROWN: "All parts of the plant" would include the flowers?

MR. JOHNSON: Then flowers could be inserted.

SENATOR BROWN: I think so.

MR. JOHNSON: The leaves or the flowers of the plant"; I concede that, because I have wanted to cover it all (reading):

Such . . . plant, its seeds or resin; and shall not include oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any compound, manufacture,, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of mature stalk, oil or cake of the sterilized seed which is incapable of germination.

And then for the purpose of clarification I wanted to insert this:

Specifically excluded are mature stalks known as hemp stalks, which contain no resin or harmful properties, which are used for various legitimate commercial purposes, and which are grown by producers under contract with licensed processors or manufacturers.

Now, getting down in the practical part of the measure; no one has any business growing this hemp in any quantity whatever except under contract with someone who is using it for a legitimate business. They have no more business growing it on one-tenth of an acre than I have growing sweet potatoes on my front lawn. Anyone who uses the seed or who uses the stalk -- the hurd -- or uses the fiber is a manufacturer, a processor, who will contract to pay a man a good price to grow it for him; and these other people ought to be simply barred, and I am in favor of licensing them. I think the small producer is going to be eliminated, this man that sticks in 0one-tentth of an acre. An why shouldn't he be? He is doing no good to himself or anybody else. But here is a great industry where men will put in 10, 20, 30,40, one gentleman will put in 10 acres, and the people I represent have planted 2,200 acres and expect to plant 20,000 acres.

This has been experimented with in South Carolina, in Oregon, and all over the country, because these big industries that use the fiber and use the hurd have to take into consideration crop failures, and therefore cannot confine themselves to just Minnesota or to South Carolina or to Oregon. Some of these people have already expended $300,000 in the last few years, trying to work out in big industries the use of this fiber, and they feel that it should be so stated in the law that the farmer who is growing the stalk and growing the fiber knows definitely that he is not growing anything that has marihuana in it. He does not want to grow marihuana and yet we might lose an industry purely by the phraseology of the measure.

I think I have said all I could say on that. I could say much more, but I have stated it in a few words.

Now, on this question of the tax, and the constitutionality of the law, I am firmly convinced that the farmers can be reduced to one dollar and this law be sustained. This is not the sort of measure that people here are saying it is, a regulatory measure under the guise of a tax measure. We do not need to run around the corner to the hemp in order to stop the sale of the flower or of the leaves. it can be taxed like the automobile industry, like the cosmetic industry, like the fur industry, and we o not need to use any legal sophistry in this to sustain this statute because hemp is produced in the United States and I would say in the presence of this committee that I am sure and would almost guarantee that Mr. Hester and Mr. Tipton could go before the Supreme Court and get a unanimous decision, if they would argue along the lines I am suggesting. This is not like narcotics where there are no poppies grown, nothing like it. An my judgment a one dollar tax on the farmers is sufficient. To my mind this industry is going to be more affected by the regulations, but I have no doubt Mr. Anslinger and the gentlemen associated with him, with their wide experience and with their desire to do justice, will work out regulations far more important than the law which will be fair to industry and the farmer.

Now, I want to say further a little more on this industry itself. If there are abuses by the legitimate producer ---

SENATOR BROWN: Just let me ask one question there. You say you want the farmer to be made to realize that he is not growing marihuana?

MR. JOHNSON: In the stalk and fiber.

SENATOR BROWN: In the stalk and fiber, but of course he cannot grow the stalk and fiber without growing the resin plant?

MR. JOHNSON: That is right.

SENATOR BROWN: How are you going to leave that out? I do not see.

MR. JOHNSON: Because he is going to have to sell his product. He will have to sell this to a manufacturer. Now, as a matter of fact the people making paper, and the finest grades of paper, which you cannot make in this country without the use of hemp at the present time, and which is being imported -- even a great deal of the paper that goes into our money is being imported -- must have hemp fiber. It is just a ridiculous situation because it can be made out of our local products in this country. The paper manufacturer, when he gets the plants simply blows these leaves away. They disappear when dried. They are gone. As a matter of fact these people in Minnesota did not know until two months ago that the hemp which they grew there contained marihuana. Until this agitation came up they did not dream of it, and the were as much surprise and anyone else.

Now, they will have some little difficulties, just as the liquor people had some difficulties, eventually and the man who does not recognize that, the producer or manufacturer, is going to be put out of business in my judgment, because there is a problem with marihuana. I will concede these licenses are right, but I do think that the farmer's license fee ought to be reduced to one dollar. I have no fear whatever but what the law will be declared constitutional. I would like to see such amendments in there.

SENATOR BROWN: Of course, you must have a situation where the farmer is made to realize, it seems to me, just the opposite of what you say. He has got to be made to realize that in growing this legitimate product and fiber it can be put to illegitimate uses. Therefore I think the bill should place in the farmer a knowledge of that fact. Otherwise he will be just as your clients were, ignorant of the fact that he is growing on his farm a decidedly dangerous and deleterious product.

MR. JOHNSON: Mr. Chairman, do you not think that thought that that section 2 could be rewritten so it would say definitely that "in the flower, in the leaves" and so forth, there is a harmful product?

SENATOR BROWN: Yes, that is all right.

MR. JOHNSON: So that it is clear, make it clear to him then, but also make it clear in the bill that there is no harmful product, which is agreed to by everyone, in the hurd, fiber, and in the stalk. In other words, I do not think we have any difficulty. If we would sit around the table for five minutes, I think this could be worked out so we could do exactly what the committee wants to do, and that there would be no opposition whatever to this bill, except a desire on the part of everyone to strengthen it and make it stronger in every possible way against the illegitimate use of this hemp.

MR, HESTER: If I may say a word there, we will be very happy to sit down with you Mr. Johnson. I am sure that if you should ask our recommendation on his amendment that we would agree to recommend it, but we would be very happy to sit down and study it with him.

SENATOR BROWN: Is that all, Mr. Johnson?

MR. JOHNSON: That is all, and I thank the committee very much.

SENATOR BROWN: We have Mr. Olman, I think as the only remaining witness.


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