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From: (Sir Kay)
Newsgroups: alt.hemp
Subject: Reefer Madness???
Date: 9 Jun 1994 04:27:08 -0400
Message-ID: <2t6jos$>

Reefer Madness?
Dune Hartsell

For thousands of years, Hemp (Cannabis Sativa) has been one of the
most useful plants known to man. It's strong, stringy fibers make
durable rope and can be woven into anything from sails to shirts;
it's pithy centers, or "Hurds," make excellent paper; it's seeds,
high in protein and oil, have been pressed into lighting or
lubricating oils and pulped into animal feed; and extracts of it's
leaves have provided a wide range of medicines and tonics.
     Hemp also has a notable place in American history:
  -Washington and Jefferson grew it.
  -Our first flags were likely made of hemp cloth.
  -The first and second drafts of the Declaration of Independence
were written on paper made from Dutch Hemp.
  -When the pioneers went west, their wagons were covered with hemp
canvas (the word "canvas" comes from canabacius , hemp cloth).
  -The first "Levis" sold to prospectors were sturdy hemp coveralls.
  -Abraham Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd, came from the richest hemp
growing family in Kentucky.
     After the Civil War, however, hemp production in the States
declined steeply. Without slave labor, hemp became too expensive to
process. Besides, cotton ginned by machines was cheaper. Still, hemp
fabric remained the second most common cloth in America.
     The plant's by-products remained popular well into this century.
Maple Sugar combined with Hashish (a resin from hemp leaves) was sold
over the counter and in Sears Roebuck catalogs as a harmless candy.
Hemp rope was a mainstay of the Navy. Two thousand tons of hemp seed
were sold annually as birdfeed. The pharmaceutical industry used hemp
extracts in hundreds of potions and vigorously fought attempts to
restrict hemp production. And virtually all good paints and varnishes
were made from hemp-seed oil and/or linseed oil.
     In the 1920's and '30s the American public became increasingly
concerned about drug addiction-----especially to Morphine and a
"miracle drug" that had been introduced by the Bayer Company in 1898
under the brand name "Heroin." By the mid-1920's, there were 20,000
heroin addicts in the U.S. alone.
     Most Americans were unaware that smoking hemp was intoxicating;
however, until William Randolph Hearst launched a campaign of
sensational stories that linked "the killer weed" to everything from
Jazz to "Crazed minorities," and even unspeakable crimes. Hearst's
papers featured headlines like:
     In 1930 Hearst was joined in his crusade against hemp by Harry
J. Anslinger, commissioner of the newly organized Federal Bureau of
Narcotics (FBN). Hearst often quoted Anslinger in his newspaper
stories, printing sensational comments like: "If the hideous monster
Frankenstein came face to face with the monster marijuana he would
drop dead of fright."
     Not everyone shared their opinion. In 1930, the US government
formed the Siler Commission to study marijuana smoking by off-duty
servicemen in Panama. The Commission found no lasting effects and
recommended that no criminal penalties apply to it's use.
     Nonetheless, Hearst's and Anslinger's anti-hemp campaign had
results. By 1931, twenty-nine states had prohibited marijuana use for
nonmedical purposes. In 1937, after two years of secret hearings and
based largely on Anslinger's testimony, Congress passed the Marijuana
Tax Act, which essentially outlawed marijuana in America.
     Because Congress was not sure it was constitutional to ban hemp
outright, it taxed the plant prohibitively instead. Hemp growers had to
register with the government; sellers and buyers had to fill out cumbersome 
paperwork; and, of course, it was a federal crime not to comply.
     For selling an ounce or less of marijuana to an unregistered
person, the federal tax was 100 dollars. (To give some sense on how
prohibitive the tax was, "legitimate" marijuana was selling for $2 a
pound at the time. In 1994 dollars, the federal tax would be roughly
2,000 dollars an ounce.)
     The Marijuana Tax Act effectively destroyed all legitimate
commercial cultivation of hemp. Limited medical use was permitted,
but as hemp derivatives became prohibitively expensive for doctors
and pharmacists, they turned to chemically derived drugs instead. All
other nonmedical uses, from rope to industrial lubricants, were taxed
out of existence.
     With most of their markets gone, farmers stopped growing hemp,
and the legitimate industry disappeared. Ironically, though, hemp
continued to grow wild all over the country, and its "illegitimate"
use was little affected by Congress.
     Was a viable hemp industry forced out of existence because it
was a threat to  people's health or because it was a threat to a  few
large businesses that would profit from banning it?
     Here are some facts, hemp was outlawed just as a new technology
would have made hemp paper far cheaper than wood-pulp paper.
     Traditionally, hemp fiber had to be separated from the stalk by
hand, and the cost of labor made this method uncompetitive. But in
1937, the year that hemp was outlawed, the decoricator  machine was
invented; it could process as much as three tons of hemp an hour and
produced higher quality fibers with less loss of fiber than
wood-based pulp. According to some scientists, hemp would have been
able to undercut competing products overnight. Enthusiastic about the
new technology, Popular Mechanics  predicted that hemp would become
America's first "billion dollar crop." The magazine pointed out that
"10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000
acres of average [forest] pulp land."
     According to Jack Herer, an expert on the "hemp conspiracy,"
Hearst, the Du Ponts and other "industrial barons and financiers knew
that machinery to cut, bale, decoriticate (separate fiber from the
stalk) and process hemp into paper was becoming available in the mid
1930's." (The Emperor Wears No Clothes )
     Hearst, one of the promoters of the anti-hemp hysteria, had a
vested interest in protecting the pulp industry. Hearst owned
enormous timber acreage; competition from hemp paper might have
driven the Hearst paper-manufacturing division out of business and
cause the value of his acreage to plummet. (ibid)
     Herer says that Hearst was even responsible for popularizing the
term "marijuana" in American culture. In fact, he suggests,
popularizing the word was a key strategy of Hearst's efforts: "The
first step in creating hysteria was to introduce the element of fear
of the unknown by using a word that no one had ever heard of
before...'marijuana.'" (ibid)
     The DuPont Company also had an interest in the pulp industry. At
this time, it was in the process of patenting a new sulfuric acid
process for producing wood-pulp paper. According to the company's own
records, wood-pulp products ultimately accounted for more than 80% of all of
DuPont's railroad car loadings for the next 50 years. (ibid)
     But DuPont had even more reasons to be concerned about hemp. In
the 1930's, the company was making drastic changes in its business
strategy. Traditionally a manufacturer of military explosives, DuPont
realized after the end of World War I that developing peacetime uses
for artificial fibers and plastics would be more profitable in the
long run. So it began pouring millions of dollars into research,
Which resulted in the development of such synthetic fibers as rayon
and nylon.
  -Two years before the prohibitive hemp tax, DuPont developed a new
synthetic fiber, nylon, which was an ideal substitute for hemp rope.
  -The year after the hemp tax, DuPont was able to bring another
"miracle" synthetic fabric onto the market, rayon. Rayon, which
became widely used for clothing, was a direct competitor to hemp
  -"Congress and the Treasury Department were assured, through secret
testimony given by DuPont, that Hemp-seed oil could be replaced with
synthetic petrochemical oils made principally by DuPont." These oils
were used in paints and other products.(ibid)
     The millions spent on these products, as well as the hundreds of
millions in expected profits from them, could have been wiped out if
the newly affordable hemp products were allowed on the market. So,
according to Herer, DuPont worked with Hearst to eliminate hemp.
       DuPont's point man was none other than Harry Anslinger, the
commissioner of the FBN. Anslinger was appointed to the FBN by
Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who was also chairman of the Mellon
Bank, DuPont's chief financial backer. But Anslinger's relationship
to Mellon wasn't just political; he was also married to Mellon's
     Anslinger apparently used his political clout to sway
congressional opinion on the hemp tax. According to Herer, the
American Medical Association (AMA) tried to argue for the medical
benefits of hemp. But after the AMA officials testified to Congress,
"they were quickly denounced by Anslinger and the entire
congressional committee, and curtly excused."   
     Five years after the hemp tax was imposed, when Japanese seizure
of Philippine hemp caused a wartime shortage of rope, the government
reversed itself. Overnight, the U.S. government urged hemp
cultivation once again and created a stirring movie called "Hemp for
Victory" then, just as quickly, it recriminalized hemp after the
shortage had passed.
     While U.S. hemp was temporarily legal, however, it saved the
life of a young pilot named George Bush, who was forced to bail out
of his burning airplane after a battle over the Pacific. At the time
he didn't know that:
  -Parts of his aircraft engine were lubricated with hemp-seed oil.
  -100% of his life-saving parachute webbing was made from U.S. grown
  -Virtually all of the rigging and lines of the ship that rescued
him were made of hemp.
  -The flightsuit on his back was a rubberized hemp-cloth.
  -The fire hoses on the ship were woven from hemp
Ironically, President Bush consistently opposed decriminalizing hemp
grown in the United States.
     Does the hemp conspiracy continue? in March 1992, Robert Bonner,
the chief of the Drug Enforcement Agency, effectively rejected a
petition to permit doctors to prescribe marijuana for patients as
medication for chronic pain. Bonner said: "Beyond doubt the claims
that marijuana is medicine are false, dangerous and cruel." But,
according to a federal administrative law judge, Francis Young, "The
record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of
relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people and doing
so with safety under medical supervision." ( The New York Times)