Why Was Hemp Made Illegal in 1937?

cannabis plant

Why Was Hemp Made Illegal in 1937?



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It was over
eight decades ago when hemp was criminalized with the enforcement of
the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. At that time, marijuana was a new
drug, and with the Act, it was made illegal in the U.S., But although
hemp and marijuana came from the same plant, they aren’t the same.
Hemp can’t get you high, and it is an industrial crop. So the
question then is, “why was hemp also made illegal?”

Hemp vs.
Marijuana

Hemp is a
plant that could be grown in a vast array of soil conditions, doesn’t
need pesticides, and requires little to no maintenance to grow.
What’s more, hemp can be used in a wide variety of applications –
necessities and goods. But the thing is that people don’t use it
because of the belief that hemp can get you high. This plant was
always confused with marijuana and dragged down to the marijuana
illegality due to some propaganda and the political agenda back in
1937.

In truth,
even the plant referred to as marijuana is a hemp. The hemp plant
used in clothing etc. is non-remedial hemp composed of less than
0.03% THC. On the other hand, the hemp also known as marijuana is
remedial hemp containing over .03% THC. The two looks the same as
first glance because technically, they are the same plant. Hemp
doesn’t make anyone feel “stoned,” but marijuana does.

The
History

The story
about hemp’s illegality is said to start when Harry J. Anslinger,
the future nephew-in-law of Secretary of the Treasury and primary
investor of Dupont, Andrew Mellon. He appointed Anslinger as the head
of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Many secret
meetings were said to have happened between these financial tycoons.

From their
meetings, it has been deemed that hemp is a threat to their
enterprises and so for their businesses to remain intact, they had to
eliminate hemp. That was said to be the reason behind the existence
of the term “marihuana” that was fed to the American public. Hemp
was revered as a fantastic plant and changing its name was necessary
to push it as dangerous.

It wasn’t
long after this plan when the “yellow journalism” began in late
1920 to 1930s. At that time, the media would write stories known for
their catchy headlines but aren’t well research nor do they have
enough backup. Those are stories made only to create public opinion,
which was one of the reasons behind the spread of the horrors of
marihuana. But more than the ill-researched stories in the newspaper,
it was the number of propaganda films that dealt a massive blow in
the hemp industry.

Films such
as the ‘Reefer Madness,’ ‘Marihuana: The Devil’s Weed,’ and
‘Marihuana: Assassin of Youth,’ made marijuana the enemy, which
gained the support of the public for anti-marihuana laws. The
Marihuana Act of 1937 was brought to the House of Ways and Means
Committee due to the public’s strong opinion about it.

At that time, the Chairman of the House was a staunch Dupont supported, and so with his vested interest, the bill was passed. Though there were people who tried to stop it, hemp was prohibited. To the public, it was because hemp was said to be a dangerous, violence-inducing drug when in reality, it is nothing but a great resource.

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