Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Really Happened to Hemp?

So, with all these uses and benefits, why is Hemp cultivation illegal in the United States today? Here is a brief history of the prohibition:

Hemp was a primary source of paper, textile, and cordage fiber for thousands of years until just after the turn of the 20th century. It was at this time that companies like DuPont first developed chemicals that enabled trees to be processed into paper.

DuPont's chemicals made wood pulp paper cheaper than paper made from annual crops like hemp. At the same time Wm. Randolph Hearst, the owner of the largest newspaper chain in the United States, backed by Mellon Bank, invested significant capital in timberland and wood paper mills to produce his newsprint using DuPont's chemicals.

DuPont also developed nylon fiber as a direct competitor to hemp in the textile and cordage industries. Nylon was even billed as synthetic hemp.

DuPont was also manufacturing chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers useful in the cotton industry, another hemp competitor.

Mellon Bank, owned by U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, was also DuPont's primary financier. Mellon's niece was married to Harry Anslinger, deputy commissioner of the federal government's alcohol prohibition campaign. After the repeal of Prohibition, Anslinger and his entire federal bureau were out of a job. But Treasurer Mellon didn't let that happen. Andrew Mellon single-handedly created a new government bureaucracy, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, to keep his family and friends employed. And then he unapologetically appointed his own niece's husband, Harry Anslinger, as head of the new multimillion dollar bureaucracy.

At the same time, a machine was developed that was to hemp what the cotton gin was to cotton: it allowed hemp's long, tough fiber to be mass processed efficiently and economically for the first time. Popular Mechanics, in February 1937, predicted hemp would be the world's first "Billion Dollar Crop" that would support thousands of jobs and provide a vast array of consumer products from dynamite to plastics.

This potential rejuvenation of hemp was a major threat to Secretary Mellon's friends and business associates, especially Randolph Hearst with his wood paper industry and Lammont DuPont with his petrochemical and synthetic fiber conglomerates. After all, hemp farmers wouldn't need DuPont's chemicals to grow their hemp because the crop is self-sufficient. The hemp-based ethanol fuel that was mentioned in the Popular Mechanics' article probably didn't sit too well with the oil companies of the time. They also couldn't have been too thrilled to learn that this same plant produced high-strength plastics without a petroleum base. The hemp-based plastics developed at the time were stronger and lighter than steel, which we can imagine wasn't the best news for the steel industry.

In addition, the growing pharmaceutical companies were producing synthetic drugs to replace natural medicines. Hemp extract was used for thousands of years to effectively
treat everything from epileptic fits to rheumatoid arthritis. Chances are, hemp's resurgence wasn't good news for these drug companies either.

What we see is that the potential revival of the hemp industry was a threat to almost all the corporate giants of the time, and Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon was at the top of this food chain.

So Commissioner Anslinger, Mellon's appointee, begins researching rumors that immigrants from Mexico are smoking the flowers of the hemp plant. Racism was rampant at the time, and there was a government movement to curb the number of immigrants crossing the U.S. border at Mexico. Anslinger plugged into the racist sentiment, and began referring to the "hemp" that Americans knew cannabis to be, as "marijuana," the Mexican slang word for the plant. He labeled it as a "narcotic" even though cannabis flowers cannot cause narcosis, and spread exaggerated stories and outright lies that Mexicans and blacks became violent and disrespectful to whites when they smoked the "evil menace marijuana."

This slander of cannabis was all just fine for Anslinger's friends, the Mellons, the DuPonts, and the Hearsts. In fact, Hearst's newspapers picked up on the propaganda and fueled the fire by publishing hundreds of lurid stories about people raping and murdering while under the influence of marijuana. The sensationalism sold lots of newspapers, and the people of the country actually based their opinions on this one-sided information. Of course the stories never mentioned the hemp that people used everyday as rope, paper, medicine, and more. The stories always referred to cannabis by the Mexican slang word, marijuana.

With the moral and prohibitive fervor of the time duly stirred, Anslinger took his show to Congress. At the proceedings of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, Anslinger didn't mention that marijuana was hemp. And because anti-marijuana propaganda didn't mention that basic fact, hemp industries found out almost too late about the effort to criminalize cannabis cultivation.

Testimony was heard from the full gamut of hemp companies and advocates, from birdseed suppliers to cordage manufacturers, from farmers to physicians, all touting hemp's importance in American history and the many industrial, agricultural, medicinal, and economic benefits of cannabis. Only after their testimony, was the wording of the bill changed to allow for the continued legal cultivation of industrial hemp. Anslinger even backed off on hemp prohibition in a very cunning maneuver.

After the Act was passed, Anslinger single-handedly usurped congressional power by mandating hemp prohibition. He justified his action by saying that his agents couldn't tell the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana in the field, so hemp cultivation made enforcement of marijuana prohibition impossible. This unconstitutional usurpation of congressional law is still in effect today as the Department of Justice and the DEA still cling to Anslinger's unjust and unjustifiable prohibition on domestic hemp cultivation.

The following is a professional opinion from an anonymous online source:

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