Re: Discussion: Legalizing Marijuana II
Because it was too much competition for paper and cotton.
Three men, Henry J. Anslinger, Lammont DuPont, and William Randolph Hearst, made growing hemp illegal. Anslinger was the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. DuPont and Hearst were the owners of the largest chemical company and newspaper, respectively.
Why would these men want hemp made illegal?
Trees had become the number one paper source during this time. Hearst, in addition to owning a nationwide chain of newspapers, also owned every bit of timber used to make them. The new threat of cheap hemp meant that trees would no longer be the cheapest source of paper. DuPont had patented the process for producing synthetic nylon from oil and coal as well as a new improved sulfate process to make paper from wood pulp. If DuPont would have had to compete against environmentally-friendly hemp products, his business would have suffered.
How did they make hemp illegal?
Hearst began printing outlandish stories with headlines such as “Marijuana goads user to blood lust” and “Hotel clerk identifies Marijuana smoker as gunman”. He also took advantage of the country’s prejudice against blacks and immigrants by printing that marijuana-crazed negroes were raping white women and by painting pictures of lazy, pot-smoking Mexicans. DuPont’s banker Andrew Mellon happened to be Secretary of the Treasury under Herbert Hoover. Mellon also had a nephew-in-law, Henry Anslinger, who had the Marijuana Tax Law of 1937 passed. When asked what this meant for industrial hemp farmers, Anslinger flatly declared “They can continue to raise hemp just as they have always done it. It makes very fine cordage and this legislation exempts the mature stalk when it is grown for hemp purposes.” However, due to the overall similarity in appearance between hemp and marijuana, the entire Cannabis family was made illegal. Hemp made a brief resurgence during World War II after Japan cut off supplies for raw fibers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the short film Hemp For Victory encouraging all farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. However, it went back to its illegal standing after the war.
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