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Why is Cannabis Illegal in the First Place?


It wasn't until I really started to study and understand the hemp plant that I came across the history of why such an incredibly useful plant was made illegal. I found out very quickly that the illegality of the cannabis/hemp plant was directly and overtly due to racism and greed. Gee wiz, who would have thought?!?!


Harry J. Anslinger was Americas' first "drug czar" of sorts. Anslinger was tasked with enforcing the nationwide constitutional ban on alcohol in the United States. When prohibition ended in 1933, Anslinger was looking to continue as the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Harry was also a blatant racist, particularly against Afro-Americans. Mexicans and jazz musicians. At that same time, new emerging industries like petroleum headed by Rockefeller, synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon headed by DuPont and synthetic drugs at the Pharmaceutical companies were all coming into their own. The cannabis or hemp plant threatened all those companies and their dawning industry and challenged even established industries like cotton, pulp and paper. With the help of these industries, most notably William Randolph Hearst and his publishing empire, Anslinger used the little-known Mexican slang term for cannabis "marihuana" to publicly vilify the plant. This eventually led to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which effectively made cannabis illegal. He produced government films like "Reefer Madness" in 1936. He published print media that equated "marihuana" use with the worship of the pagan god Molech, a god who required child sacrifice. Anslinger's most notable quote about "marihuana" use was during his testimony before congress in support of the Marihauna Tax Act of 1937. "There are 100,000 marihuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marihuana usage. This marihuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others. It is a drug that causes insanity, criminality and death - the most violencecausing drug in the history of mankind." This term "marihuana" was a term that Congress had never heard of. let alone understood. Because lawmakers and the called "marihuana" very little debate took place on the bill. However, one very credible opponent of the bill came forward, that being Dr. William C. Woodard. Woodard was head counsel of the American Medical Association, the AMA. He argued that the plant had powerful, safe and proven medicinal properties. At the time, cannabis extract was a staple in most American medicine cabinets. like aspirin of today. Woodard further complained about the 2 years of secret planning leading up to the bills congressional introduction. He is quoted as saying to Congress in his testimony “We cannot understand yet, Mr. Chairman, why this should have been prepared in secret for 2 years without any intimation, even to the profession that it was being prepared." The AMA, had opposed every piece of legislation set forth by the New Dealers in congress, from 1932 to 1937. Consequently, pre-existing hostility existed between the parties.


The bill was on the floor for a paltry 92 seconds, when it was passed into law. The record shows that Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the House, could not explain even the fundamental concepts of the proposed bill when a single Republican representative from New York rose simply to ask what the bill was about. The Marihauna Tax Act of 1937 technically did not outlaw the plant, but it set up a tax structure around the plant that effectively did. Years later, during WWII, in an act of clear hypocrisy, the federal government, through short films, actually encouraged farmers to grow cannabis for the war effort and then reinstated its illegality after the war was over.


In May of 1971, Richard M. Nixon tightened restrictions even more on cannabis by making it a schedule I drug within the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. This defined marijuana has having no medicinal value and put it on par with heroin, LSD and ecstasy. Cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, Ritalin, Adderall and Vicodin are all schedule I. Nixon did this in an attempt to quell the hippie and anti-war movement. H.R. Haldeman later testified before congress that they knew they were lying about cannabis for political reasons, not its efficacy or its-safety.

For more than 80 years now, thanks to bigotry, greed and politics, the American public has been robbed of many effective medicinal treatments and countless high quality consumer goods including hempcrete, clothing, rope paper, a high protein food and clean burning fuel oil. We've also lost years of research studies and innovation that could have impacted many lives. What if we knew about CBD, THC, CBG and other cannabinoids 50 years


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