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The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937


Dr. Buckingham: Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am veterinarian for the government of the District of Columbia, and I also represent the Board of Examiners of Veterinary Medicine of the District of Columbia. I was formerly the dean and a professor of veterinary materia medica and therapeutics at George Washington University.

I come here in favor of the bill. I would like to outlaw Cannabis sativa. as a drug to be used by veterinarians in their practice, for the reason that a survey of the veterinarians of the District of Columbia, especially those in large animal practice, in which I am engaged, shows that they use very little of it, preferring the use of chloral hydrate in a milk solution, which is far more efficacious in the colics of horses and other large animals. I might say, in this connection that I am veterinarian to the Zoological Gardens here, and I have never given Cannabis to any large animals, either domestic or wild animals.

Because of the immense amount of damage that this drug does, I would like to go on record as voting against the use of it by veterinarians in the District of Columbia.

Unfortunately, I have not read the bill, but with reference to its use by veterinarians, I believe that the entire profession in the District would be behind me in vetoing its use in veterinary practice.

Mr. McCormack: As you may know, this is a bill that is applicable throughout the entire country, and I take it that any legislation specifically applying to the District of Columbia would come before the legislative committee on the District of Columbia.

Dr. Buckingham: Yes, sir.

Mr. McCormack: I understand that several years ago there was a bill pending here, or a uniform bill that has been endorsed by 34 or 35 States of the Union. That bill was pending before the committee several years ago, perhaps for 3 or 4 years. I specifically call this to your attention, because this committee cannot legislate or recommend legislation especially for the District of Columbia. However, your testimony is very valuable in support of this bill, and I do not want you to think, because of my observation, that I do not regard your testimony here this morning as of great value.

Mr. Boehne: Section 15, line 12, includes the District of Columbia.

Mr. McCormack: That includes the District of Columbia, but this bill covers the entire United States, including the District of Columbia. We cannot legislate especially for the District of Columbia.

Mr. Boehne: The section I referred to includes the District of Columbia under the terms of the act.

Mr. McCormack: We have included the District of Columbia. If we did not include the District of Columbia, it would have to be specifically excluded. The point I made is that this bill has general application to the entire United States.

Dr. Buckingham: I am certainly in favor of having the District of Columbia included.

Mr. McCormack: Naturally it would include the District of Columbia, but the bill applies, also, to all of the 48 States of the Union. It is a tax measure, and it will, of course, apply to the District of Columbia, just as it applies to all of the States. You want to outlaw the use of this drug by veterinarians in the District of Columbia.

Dr. Buckingham: Yes, sir.

Mr. Cullen: I think the doctor is appearing before the committee to express his opinion in regard to this drug, and the effect it has on animals. He is not asking that the District of Columbia be exempted from the provisions of the bill, but you want the District included.

Dr. Buckingham: Yes, sir.

Mr. Vinson: Your activities are confined more or less to the District of Columbia.

Dr. Buckingham: Yes, sir.

Mr. Vinson: Is there anything, in connection with the profession of veterinary, that would cause a veterinarian who resided elsewhere than in the District of Columbia to have a different viewpoint from that you expressed?

Dr. Buckingham: Where they may possibly have no large animals practice they may use this drug but if you are practicing veterinary medicine, you would find that there were better drugs for the purpose. For instance, they could use morphine or atropine hypodermically with better results.

Mr. Vinson: So far as you are concerned, you think it would have the same effect over the line in Maryland that it would have in the District of Columbia.

Dr. Buckingham: Yes, sir.

Mr. Vinson: You think it is a harmful drug, and that your profession in the District should be recorded in support of this measure.

Dr. Buckingham: That is right. Perhaps my thought on the subject has been accentuated because of the fact that I attend at the Lorton Penitentiary, as well as the reformatory, and I understand that this drug is mainly used by that type of gentleman who climb in second-story windows, break into banks, and so forth.

Mr. Vinson: And it reaches children in school, also.

Dr. Buckingham: Yes, sir.

Mr. Fuller: Doctor, regulations on this subject that would apply to the District of Columbia would be applicable to the entire United States, would they not?

Dr. Buckingham: Yes, sir.

Mr. Fuller: Therefore, you are not only opposed to the use of this drug here, but you would eliminate it by regulations not only here, but all over the United States.

Dr. Buckingham: I answered that same question somewhat differently, and I would like to answer it now by saying "Yes."

Mr. Boehne: Is there any evidence to show that this plant is used by larger animals in nature? Will animals, whether wild or domestic, use it in their native State, as a forage plant, or do they reject it?

Dr. Buckingham: This is a foreign drug, but I am not aware of animals using it like they do loco weed on the western range. Would that be a parallel?

Mr. Boehne: Yes. Where it is scattered around through its use as bird seed, and grows along fences, would a grazing cow eat it?

Dr. Buckingham: No, Sir. They might by mistake.

Mr.Boehne: Would they reject it?

Dr. Buckingham: I believe they would.

Mr. Boehne: Naturally, they would prefer not to eat it.

Dr. Buckingham: Yes, sir. Of course, animals eat a number of plants that are of no benefit to them. As they graze, animals will leave aside noxious weeds which might possibly be put in this same category.

Mr. Dingell: Has this weed or plant, marihuana, any relationship to or affinity with the loco weed? Is there any comparable objection there?

Dr. Buckingham: I think the chemical set-up there is considerably different.

Mr. Cullen: This completes the list of witnesses who want to speak in favor of the bill, and we will now hear the opposition. There are four witnesses in opposition, and we will be glad to hear Mr. Lozier at this time.



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