Hemp was George Washington's primary crop, and a secondary crop
for Thomas Jefferson, so hemp has been around in America for a
long time, without apparently causing much destruction in society.
Each sailing ship carried several tons of hemp in its rope and
sails, so cultivation of hemp was a major industry. Even though
cannabis was widely grown, there were no allegations that it led
to harder drugs.(2,3,5,10)
In 1910, they believed that the certain steppingstone to opiate
addiction was "eating Mexicanized food". The fundamental
idea comes from America's puritanical history. It is the idea
that pleasure is sinful, and small pleasures lead to cravings
for larger pleasures. In this example, those who crave spicy
food will inevitably crave larger pleasures, such as opium.(1)
In the 1920s, some states outlawed marijuana because of the belief
that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana - just
the opposite of the modern myth. (2,3)
Cannabis had been widely known and used in many medicinal compounds
for hundreds of years, so there was ample evidence in the 1930s
to know whether there was a connection between marijuana and harder
In 1937, Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics,
testified before Congress that there was no connection at all
between marijuana and heroin. The reason marijuana had to be outlawed,
he said, was because it caused insanity, criminality, and death.
One example he gave was of two young lovers who became so crazed
after smoking a joint that they eloped and got married. The other
reasons he gave were no more sensible. The hemp industry representatives
who testified were uniformly surprised and mystified to hear that
a dangerous drug could be made from this widespread and common
crop. The American Medical Association testified that they knew
of no evidence that marijuana was a dangerous drug. (2,3,4)
The US Government encouraged farmers to grow hemp during World
War II, because it was vital to the country's war effort. (2,3,10)
In 1944, the La Guardia Committee Report on Marihuana confirmed
Mr. Anslinger's statementthere was no connection at all between
marijuana and heroin.(6)
In 1951, Harry Anslinger was testifying about why we needed tougher
drug laws. Just before he testified, the head of the Federal
addiction research program testified that they knew for certain
that all of the reasons that had been given for outlawing marijuana
in 1937 were entirely bogus. They knew for certain that marijuana
did not cause insanity, criminality and death. Anslinger was
left with no reason for tougher laws so he made upon the spot,
with not a shred of evidencethe assertion that marijuana is
the certain stepping stone to heroin addiction. He directly contradicted
his own testimony from 1937. It has been the basis of US marijuana
policy ever since. (2,3)
Since that time, the Federal drug enforcement officials have tried
to support this myth with the idea that most heroin addicts started
with marijuana, and statistics which seem to show that marijuana
users are more likely to have used cocaine. The first assertion
would get a failing grade in any freshman Logic class. The second
can be explained by the fact that people who engage in one risk-taking
behavior are likely to engage in other risk-taking behaviors.
It, too, would earn a failing grade in freshman Logic.
In 1970, the Canadian Government did their largest study ever
of the subject, and found no connection between marijuana and
In 1972, the US Government did their largest study ever of the
subject, and found no connection between marijuana and heroin.
(8) This was also the conclusion of the largest study ever done
by Consumers Union, published the same year.(5)
The real reason that hemp is illegal is nothing less than lunacy.
Marijuana (including industrial hemp) was originally outlawed
because "All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana is what makes
them crazy." Dr. James C. Munch, the US Official Expert on
Marihuana from 1938 to 1962 testified in court, under oath, that
marijuana had turned him into a bat. Dr. Munch also supported
the testimony of one murder defendant who claimed insanity because
he had been in the same room with a bag of marijuana. The defendant
was acquitted by reason of marijuana-induced insanity.(2,3)
Every major study of marijuana policy in the last one hundred
years has found that marijuana prohibition is a mistake which
does more harm than good. (11)
All of these references can be found on the Internet at http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/history/history.htm
(1) Themes in Chemical Prohibition, NIDA Conference Report, 1979
(2) History of the Marijuana Laws, speech to the 1995 California
Judges Conference, by Professor Charles Whitebread, USC Law School.
(3) Forbidden Fruit and the Tree of Knowledge: The Legal History
of American Marijuana Prohibition, Professors Richard Bonnie,
and Charles Whitebread.
(4) Transcripts of the Congressional Hearings for the Marihuana
Tax Act of 1937, see transcripts of Harry Anslinger's testimony.
(5) Marijuana in the New World, from The Consumers Union Report
on Licit and Illicit Drugs, 1972. Also found under Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy.
(6) LaGuardia Committee Report on Marihuana - Also found under
Major Studies of Drugs and
(7) Cannabis Fluid Extract, From the Parke, Davis & Company
1929-1930 physicians' catalog.
(8) History of the Medical UseFrom Marihuana, A Signal of
Misunderstanding, by the US National Commission on Marihuana and
Drug Abuse, 1972Also found under Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy.
(9) Canadian Government Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical
Use of Drugs, (The Le Dain Report) - Also found under Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy.
(10) Transcript of Hemp for Victory, US Dept of Agriculture Film,
(11) Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/