By William Price Trolinger, III
The Unconstitutional Prohibition of Cannabis..
A. The Origins of Hemp.
B. Historical Literary References to Hemp.
C. Hemp and Religion.
D. Hemp and Essential Nutrition.
E. Cannabis as Medicine.
F. Cannabis in America – A History.
G. Cannabis Prohibition.
H. The Cannabis Prohibition is Unconstitutional.
Prohibition …. goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes crime out of things that are not crimes….A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.
Abraham Lincoln, December 1840
Ignorance is of a peculiar nature; once dispelled, it is impossible to reestablish it. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant.
Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man
Before the egregiously malignant nature of the modern cannabis prohibition can be fully understood, one must first have a grasp of the relationship between humankind and the hemp plant. Man’s complex history with the hemp plant is older than agriculture itself and, indeed, the discovery in 1990 of a cannabinoid-specific nerve receptor abundant in the human brain1 and the discovery in 1993 of another in the immune system,2 stimulated by THC and CBD, respectively, two of the most prevalent of the more than sixty cannabinoid structures in the hemp plant, indicates an extremely long and close relationship. These receptors, which are similar among different species,3 have also been found in invertebrates, such as leeches and mollusks,4 proving conclusively that they have been conserved throughout evolution for more than 500 million years and that they serve an important and basic function in animal physiology.
A. The Origins of Hemp
Apparently originating in central Asia, possibly around the Himalayas, the hemp plant was initially cultivated for food, as mentioned in the Old Testament, Genesis 1:29: “And God said, Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth,…to you it shall be for meat.” Later, the Southern Ch’i (470-502 C.E.) dynastic history, Nan-Ch’i shu, made note of a porridge made of hemp seed, but hemp was also the first plant to be cultivated for fiber. Cotton from India and Mediterranean flax did not appear until thousands of years later. The phrase “land of mulberry (food of silkworms) and hemp” was synonymous with China in ancient times, where the masses were clothed with hemp and the wealthy with silk.
An abundance of evidence from burial pits and other sites throughout China attests to the continuous cultivation of Asian hemp from prehistoric times. One archaeological dig, a twelve thousand-year-old Neolithic site at Yuan-shan (in what is now Taiwan), unearthed remains of coarse, sandy pottery with hempen cord marks covering the surface, along with an incised, rod-shaped, stone beater used to pound hemp. Another Neolithic site (circa 4000 B.C.E.) in Zhejiang province produced evidence of several textile articles made of hemp and silk, and at Taixi Village in Hebei province, remnants of a hemp-weaving industry of the Shang culture (1400-1100 B.C.E.): some burnt hemp fabric and a roll of hemp cloth were discovered.5 Court etiquette during the Zhou Dynasty (770-221 B.C.E.) required visitors to include “ma fen”(hemp fruit) among the ceremonial gifts, and the famed Chinese cultural icon – laquerware – is made by applying a tree sap (Rhus verniciferas) over a core of hemp fiber.6
Indian mythology says that hemp was present with Shiva at the beginning of the world: the earliest known Aryan name for hemp is “bhanga,” derived from the Aryan word “an” or “bhanj” meaning “to break.” The modern term “cannabis” developed from the Sanskrit “sana” or “cana.” The regional name Bengal means “bhang land” and Bangladesh means “bhang land people.”7 The Aryans who invaded India also spread throughout the Middle East into Europe as far west as France, sowing hemp seed along the way; however, they found the hemp plant was already in Mesopotamia. One of the older archaeological relics in existence is a fragment of hemp cloth found at Çatal Hüyük, dated circa 8000 B.C.E.
In Assyrian texts, cannabis is called “qu-nu-bu” (drug for grief), as mentioned in a letter (preserved in the royal archives) written to the mother of Assyrian King Esarhaddon around 680 B.C.E. In Persia, hemp seeds were called “shahdanah,” or emperor’s seeds.8
An offshoot of the Aryans, the Scythians, swept from Siberia into the Middle East and Europe, their descendants eventually populating Eastern Europe and much of the Baltic area. In 1993, Russian archaeologists found the two-thousand-year-old grave of a young Scythian princess on the Siberian Umok plateau. The girl’s tattooed body was stuffed with fur, moss and peat and dressed in silk and wool. She was buried in a hollowed-out larch tree trunk which was decorated with leather figures of snow leopards and deer. In the grave with her were six horses in full harness and other objects, including a brush, dishes, a mirror and a small pot containing cannabis. This discovery was almost identical to the grave of a Scythian chieftain found in Siberia in 1929 and also tallies with descriptions by Herodotus of Scythian burial customs. 9 The curved cutting tool invented by the Scythians for harvesting hemp is still used today all over the world and bears their name – the scythe.
The Phrygian tribes, who invaded the Hittite empire about 1000 B.C.E., used hemp fabrics, as evidenced by an excavation of the city of Gordion near Ankara, Turkey, and cannabis is mentioned in cuneiform tablets dated from 650 B.C.E., which were found in the library of the Babylonian emperor Ashurbanipal.
By the third millennium B.C.E., hemp was known in Egypt. The ancient Egyptian word for hemp, “smsmt,” appears in the Pyramid Texts in connection with rope making. Pieces of hempen material were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenophis IV) at el-Amarna and pollen on the mummy of Ramses II (circa 1200 B.C.E.) has been identified as cannabis. Hempen grave clothes have been unearthed at other digs dating from the Badarian, Predynastic, Pan, and Roman periods. Hemp was also used in the construction of the Pyramids, not only as rope to pull blocks of limestone, but also in the quarries, where dried fiber was pounded into cracks in the rock, then wetted; as the fiber swelled, the rock broke.10
The Punic people, who built Carthage in North Africa, and dominated the Mediterranean Sea from the 11th until the 8th century B.C.E., and continued as a lesser power until destroyed by the Romans during the three Punic Wars in the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C.E., used hemp extensively for rope and caulking their ship’s hulls. When a Punic warship found off the coast of Sicily yielded a large quantity of hemp stalks, archaeologists speculated that it had been distributed to the oarsmen who chewed it for mild relief from fatigue.11
The Greek city-states obtained hemp from Colchis on the Black Sea, and Hesychius reported Thracian women making sheets of hemp. Moschion (circa 200 B.C.E.) recorded the use of hemp rope that had been cultivated in Rhodanus (the Rhone River Valley), by the tyrant Hiero II on his flagship, SYRACUSIA, and the rest of his fleet.12
The Roman Empire made wide use of hemp fiber, much of which was imported from the Babylonian city of Sura. Other major centers of the hemp industry at that time were the cities of Albana, Colchis, Cyzicus, Ephesus and Mylasa. Although cannabis was not a major crop in early Italy, the seed was a common food. Carbonized hemp seeds were found in the ruins of Pompeii, buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E.13
The Italians called hemp (or canappa) the “quello dellecento operazioni,” or “substance of a hundred operations,” in reference to the many processes required to prepare the fibers for use. The Venetians came to dominate the Italian hemp industry, instituting a craft union and the Tana, a state-operated spinning factory. The Venetian senate declared that “the security of our galleys and ships and similarly of our sailors and capital” rested on “the manufacture of cordage in our home of the Tana,” and accordingly passed statutes requiring that Venetian ships be rigged with only the finest quality hemp rope. The consequent superiority of the Venetian fleet ensured their control of Mediterranean shipping until the city was conquered by Napoleon in 1797.14
Although the hemp plant was already widely known in Europe, the Romans helped further its spread throughout the continent. When German archaeologist Herman Busse unearthed a 6th century B.C.E. tomb at Wilmersdorf (Brandenburg), he found an urn containing sand and plant fragments, including hemp seeds.15 The Franks, a West Germanic people, spread into Roman provinces in 253 C.E., eventually occupying most of Gaul, now France. When the crypt of the Frankish Queen Arnemunde, who died in 570 C.E., was opened, her body was found draped in hemp cloth, wearing a silk dress and gold jewelry, and surrounded by treasure.
The Vikings relied extensively on hemp as rope, sailcloth, caulking, fishing line, and nets, and may have been the first Europeans to introduce the plant to the east coast of North America. Hemp seed has been found in the remains of Viking ships built around 850 C.E. Ancient retting pits have been discovered in Denmark and it was the Swedish botanist Carl von Linne (Linnaeus) who, in 1753, classified hemp as “Cannabis sativa” in his Species Plantarum and described the resin as narcotic.16
For centuries, hemp was grown throughout Europe and was the focus of many folk rituals such as fire festivals. In medieval Swabia, in southwestern Germany, young peasant men and women leaped hand-in-hand over a bonfire crying, “Grow, that the hanf may be three ells high!” It was believed that those who jumped would not suffer backaches at the harvest and that the parents of those who jumped the highest would have the most abundant crop. Any farmer who failed to add something to the bonfire was doomed to have his hemp crop fail.17
In the Vosges Mountain region of France, people danced on the roofs of their houses on Twelfth Day, the Epiphany, so that the hemp would grow tall that season and in the Ardennes it was believed vital for the women to be intoxicated on the night of the first Sunday in Lent for the same reason. When sowing hemp seed, farmers would jump as high as they could in the field and pull up their pants as high as they would go to indicate how high the hemp would grow. In the Bean Festival of Lorraine, farmers compared the heights of the current king and queen and made predictions about the relative heights of the male and female hemp crops.18
The Moors founded Europe’s first paper factory in 1150 C.E., using hemp from Xativa (hence the name sativa) in the Alicante province, Spain. The water-powered mill at Xativa, near Valencia, was mentioned in historical documents dated from 1238 C.E. and 1273 C.E. Another Moorish hemp-milling operation was established in Toledo. When Gutenburg invented moveable type in the 15th century, printers began publishing the Bible on this Moorish hemp paper.19
When Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, faced with the unavailability of alcohol in the Moslem world, thousands of his soldiers took up smoking hashish and drinking traditional hash beverages. The French expedition was accompanied by 175 French scholars who sent quantities of hash back to France to their colleagues. The psychoactive properties of the Indian hemp were stronger than that of its European counterpart due to the fact that cannabis grown in a warmer, sunnier climate produces more resin.20
Hemp eventually helped to destroy Napoleon when he unwisely invaded Russia in 1812 with the intent of destroying her hemp crop, to punish Czar Alexander I for violating the 1807 Treaty of Tilset by selling hemp to England. Napoleon wished to destroy the British navy by denying it sails and rope, but unfortunately for the Corsican, the harsh Russian winter decimated his mighty army, while hemp continued to flourish on the steppe.21
The Romans introduced cannabis to the British Isles by 180 C.E., if it was not there previously, as indicated by pieces of hemp rope found in a well in a Roman fort on the Antonine Wall at Bar Hill in Dunbartonshire. The plant was widely cultivated and retted by about 400 C.E., when evidence shows that hemp and flax were grown at Old Buckenham Mere.22 The Saxons continued this cultivation upon their arrival circa 600 C.E., and believed the plant had magical healing powers. On St. John’s Eve, farmers would feed hemp flowers to their livestock to protect them from evil and sickness. The peasantry used cannabis to treat toothaches, to facilitate childbirth, to reduce convulsions, fevers, inflammations and swollen joints, and to cope with rheumatism and jaundice. It was defined as a healing plant in several medieval herbals, including those of William Turner, Mattioli, and Dioscobas Taberaemontanus.23
The truly great power of hemp in medieval Europe was its utility on the seas. As with the Vikings, Romans, Carthaginians and Phoenicians of earlier times, the European nations realized that control of trade could only be obtained by dominating the seas. By the 15th century, Spain, Holland and England were fiercely competing in their attempts to outflank the Venetians with their exclusive “silk road” access to the riches of the Orient. Establishing sea routes meant having strong enough ropes and sails to weather the punishing journey around the Cape of Good Hope, and later Cape Horn. Hemp was the only answer.
The Dutch took the early lead in hemp production with their superior technology. Windmills powered by hemp sails provided the power to crush the stalks of “hennep” and enabled Holland to produce great quantities of “canefas” (“canvas,” from the Latin “cannabis”) and rope. The Dutch used advanced techniques of bleaching hemp and linen, and in 1756, introduced dilute sulfuric acid to the six-month process of retting, washing, heating, and watering hemp, thereby cutting the time in half.24 However, Holland simply could not grow enough hemp for its fleet and so was forced to trade with Italy and Russia, as well as the Baltic and Scandinavian countries, for a steady supply of the strategic material.
In Great Britain, King Henry VIII, in 1533, required all farmers to cultivate at least one-quarter acre of hemp or flax for every sixty acres of land tilled, an edict repeated by Queen Elizabeth in 1563. The order was repealed in 1593 because British farmers were not enthusiastic about growing hemp due to the labor involved and the fact that it did not pay well, in spite of the Crown incentives. However, in 1607, in his How to Use All Land Profitably, J. Norton admonished that “many crofts, tofts, pightles, pingles, and other small quillets of land … are suffered to lie together idle, some overgrown with … unprofitable weeds,…where…would grow sundry commodities, as hemp …. The hemp is of great use in a farmers house … not only for cordage for shipping, but also for linen, and other necessaries about a house.”25
Despite its usefulness, hemp always seemed to fall short of its economic potential. When King James I, in the early 17th century, asked the Commission of Trade why hemp-dressing was no longer handled by English laborers who needed work, he was told that: “[the] Trade … is of late almost given over, by bringing in of hemp and flax ready dressed, and that for the most part by strangers.”26
In 1651, the London hemp dressers petitioned Charles I, demanding that the importation of already-dressed hemp from Holland be “prohibited, restrained, and forbidden.” lest the competition leave them “utterly decayed and brought to beggary.”27 A decade later, however, there was a dearth of workers in the industry so, in 1663, the Crown passed the Act for Encouraging the Manufactures of Making Linen Cloth and Tapestry, wherein the British asked alien workers “to set up and exercise the trade, occupation or mystery of breaking, hickling, or dressing of hemp or flax,” offering them full citizenship within three years of establishing themselves in England. Local manufacturing still could not keep pace with demand, so in 1696, Ireland was permitted to export hemp and flax yarn and cloth to England duty-free.28
Despite these efforts, Great Britain was still dependent on Russia for up to 97% of her hemp needs, thus placing the island nation in constant economic jeopardy and compromising her very freedom. Accordingly, England shifted her gaze westward. Since 1492, when Columbus had sailed 80 tons of hempen canvas and rigging across the Atlantic and 1620, when the MAYFLOWER followed, reports of the ease with which hemp flourished on the new continent had tantalized the kings of the Old World, and England was uniquely positioned to take advantage of the vast untapped potential of this New World. America was the future.29
B. Historical Literary References to Hemp
Several ancient books offer a glimpse into the role of hemp in early China. The Shu Ching (circa 2300 B.C.E.) states that the land in Shantung province is “whitish and rich … with silk, hemp, lead, pine trees, and strange stones…” and that in the Henan Valley, people paid tribute to their rulers in hemp. Hemp was grown around every lord’s castle to secure his military strength and many battles were decided by the superiority of hemp bowstrings over bamboo.30 Other early books, written on wooden or bamboo tablets or, more rarely, on silken protopaper, “zhi,” made numerous references to hemp. The Shih Ching, a compilation of 305 songs and psalms composed between 1000 B.C.E. and 500 B.C.E., mentions millet thirteen times, mulberry twenty times, and hemp seven times. In the first dictionary, Shuo-wen chieh-tzu, compiled by Hsu Shen in the Eastern Han period, four variations for “ma” (hemp) are given. The Chi-chiu-pien, a primer composed in the 1st century B.C.E., for teaching reading and writing, lists rice, millet, and hemp in one sentence.31 During the Han Dynasty (207 B.C.E. – 220 C.E.), it was discovered that the fibers of hemp, when pounded together with mulberry bark, made an inexpensive and nearly weightless writing surface. The dynastic history, Hou-Han Shu, in chapter 108, documents the widespread use of such paper dating from 105 C.E., a fact further supported by archaeological finds.32
Numerous ancient Greek and Roman authors made literary references to cannabis. The formidable list includes: Puasanius in the 2nd century B.C.E., noting that hemp was grown in Elide; the satirist Lucilius (circa 100 B.C.E.); Lucius Columella, in the reign of Augustus, who gave instructions for sowing hemp in Res Rustica (II vii.1 and II xii.21); Caius Plinius the Elder (23-79 C.E.), who wrote at length about hemp in his Natural History; Pliny, reproducing the writings of Democritus, describing some preparations and effects of cannabis; Leo Africanus, who wrote about the Lhasis potation in Tunisia in The History and Description of Africa; Alus Gellus in Noctes Atticae; Cato in De Res Rustica; Gaius Catullus in Codex Veronensis; Herodotus in The Histories; Plutarch in Of The Names of Mountains and Rivers; and Theophrastus, who wrote of the “dendromalache” (the herb tree). Other classical writers who made note of hemp were Aetius, Cinegius, Hesychius, Moschion, Strabo, and Titus Livius.33
Examples of cannabis use appear regularly throughout later world literature also. Bhang and hashish figure prominently in several of the tales in the Book of the Thousand and One Nights, a well-known and loved collection of Arabic stories compiled between the 11th and 18th centuries. Scheherazade told the comical “Tale of the Hashish Eater” and, on the 798th night, “The Tale of The Two Hashish Eaters.”34 Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland featured a cannabis-smoking caterpillar and, of course, Rabelais’ 16th century satire Gargantua and Pantagruel extolled the many virtues of hemp
C. Hemp and Religion
The spiritual partnership between humans and hemp predates the age ten thousand years ago when prehistoric hunter-gatherers made the transition to agriculture. Archaic peoples freely sampled the plants in their environment, searching for potential food sources, and certainly could not have avoided detecting that cannabis did more than fill their bellies. By drawing nourishment from both the soil below and the heavens above, plants were obvious intermediaries between the earth and the heavens, possibly holding the keys to life’s mysteries. Some religious scholars suggest that the ancients would have naturally expected plants to hold the secrets of the heavens and, whereas modern Western religions tend to emphasize sin, repentance, and mortification of the flesh, the world’s older religions have an unbroken custom of using cannabis as a euphoriant, “which allowed the participant a joyous path to the Ultimate, hence such appellations as ‘heavenly guide.’”35
The medicinal and consciousness-elevating properties of cannabis were probably simultaneous discoveries, but the earliest specific literary reference to hemp consumption for spiritual purposes was found in the Indian religious text Athharva Veda, which dates from 1400 B.C.E., but contains far older material. It speaks of the sacred herb “bhang” as the means by which one communed with Shiva, the deity of spiritual enlightenment in the Hindu trinity, and freed oneself from sin. The text calls for the divine plant to “deliver us from calamity” and to “protect … against diseases and all the Demons.”36
According to Indian tradition, the bhang plant was produced when the gods churned the heavenly ocean, using Mount Mandara as a stirring stick. A drop of nectar spilled onto the earth and hemp sprouted on the spot. This bhang nectar – called Indracana – was a gift from the gods and a particular favorite of the gods Indra and Shiva, who was known as the “Lord of Bhang.” Recreational and religious use of cannabis was quite common around 1300 B.C.E.
According to J.M. Campbell, in an appendix to The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report of 1893-1894:
He who drinks bhang, drinks Shiva. The soul in whom the spirit of bhang finds a home glides into an ocean of being freed from the weary round of self-blinded matter …. To the Hindu, the hemp plant is holy. A guardian lives in the bhang leaf … To meet someone carrying bhang is a sure omen of success. To see in a dream the leaves, plant, or water of bhang is lucky; it brings the goddess of wealth into the dreamer’s power … A longing for bhang foretells happiness.
The 17th century Hindu text Rajvallabha concurs that consuming this food of the gods creates vital energy, increases mental powers, and brings delight to Shiva.37
Bhang is used as an offering in religious ceremonies, such as the Kali, Durja-Puja, and Vijaya Dasmi festivals. Worshipers of Vishnu, another god of the Hindu trinity and a principle player in the Vedic myth of hemp’s origin, often make offerings of bhang. The Sikhs, a Hindu offshoot dating to 1500 C.E., have a tradition of bhang consumption: bhang drinking was mandatory for Sikhs during the Dasehera holiday honoring the religion’s founder.
Cannabis use continues today among Indian Hindus, in particular with the wandering ascetics, the “sadhus,” who constantly drink bowls of bhang to celebrate auspicious holidays, and smoke chillums (pipes) of ganga, the sticky cannabis flower tops, at cremation pyres along the Ganges River. The sadhus fulfill a spiritual function described in the Vedas, radiating spiritual energy as they walk around the country wearing only rags or nothing at all, their skin covered with dust or ashes, and existing on alms, feeding the consciousness of India and the planet. They practice physical austerities, including celibacy and extended fasts. Bhang helps them center their thoughts on the divine and endure hardships. It supplies them with spiritual power, brings them closer to enlightenment, and honors Shiva, who is said to be perpetually intoxicated by cannabis. Hindu laity use cannabis to celebrate and consecrate weddings and before contemplation of the Mysteries. The sacred herb also has the reputation of helping the masses survive periods of famine.38
In China, a Taoist priest in the 5th century B.C.E. wrote of cannabis use by “necromancers, in combination with Ginseng, to set forward time and reveal future events.” Ancient warnings caution against overindulgence in “Ma-fen,” or hemp fruit, but also offered the advice that long-term use helps “one communicate with spirits and lightens one’s body.”39 T’ao Hung-Ching, the most eminent Taoist of the 5th century C.E., similarly noted in his book, Ming-i pieh-lu, that “the magicians say” if hemp seeds are consumed with ginseng, it will endow one with the ability to see future events. Other Taoist texts also document hemp use by magicians and alchemists. The 6th century Taoist collection Wu Shang Pi Yao (Essentials of the Matchless Books), for example, states that alchemists added hemp to their incense. Other surviving sources indicate that Chinese shamans used cannabis regularly during that era.40
Mount Shao, the first major center of Taoist practice, was established around 350 C.E. by the sage Yang Hsi who, while under the influence of cannabis, experienced a series of visions of Lady Wei, the Mao brothers, and other members of the pantheon, who transmitted a number of sacred texts through him.41 There is also evidence of exchanges between Taoism and the cannabis-using mystical traditions of India and Persia, leading some scholars to speculate that the classical Taoist text, The Secret of the Golden Flower, contains numerous references to hemp. It gave the following advice about incense: “If there is time in the morning, one may sit during the burning of an incense stick, that is the best. In the afternoon, human affairs interfere and one can easily fall into indolence.”42
Sailors brought hemp to Japan, where it was called “asa,” and played a role in many traditional rituals and stories. Shinto priests in ancient Japan are said to have used ceremonial sticks, “gohei,” with undyed hemp fibers attached to one end. Waving the fibers, which symbolized purity, above a person’s head was thought to drive away evil spirits residing in him or her. Japanese Taoists were using cannabis seeds in their incense burners by the 1st century C.E. Hemp also played an important role in marriage customs. The groom’s family would send hempen gifts to the bride’s family to demonstrate her acceptability, strands of the fiber would be arrayed at the wedding ceremony as a symbol of the wife’s obedience to her husband, and in Shintoism, cannabis would be consumed to bind the couple together and grace their union with laughter and happiness.43
In the Mahayana Buddhist traditional legend, Buddha lived on one cannabis seed a day during his six years of ascetic discipline prior to his enlightenment. Today, according to Harvard botanical professor Richard Schultes, the Tantric Buddhists in the Tibetan Himalayas use cannabis ritually to deepen their meditation and raise their awareness.
Cannabis use expanded from India into Persia and Assyria and, by 900 B.C.E., the Assyrians used hemp for incense in an age when ceremonial herbs were burned for more than just fragrance; the noted religious scholar Mircea Eliade writes that: “shamanic ecstasy induced by hemp smoke was known in ancient Iran.”44 The continued use of incense in modern rituals recalls a time when the psychoactive properties of incense were honored as a way of bringing the worshiper in touch with supernatural forces.
Although the Greeks and Romans preferred intoxication with alcohol, they were well aware of hemp’s psychotropic effects. In the 5th century B.C.E., the Greek historian Herodotus observed during a Scythian post-funeral purification ritual using cannabis that: “The Scythians, transported with the vapor, shout aloud.”45 His contemporary, Democritus, circa 460 B.C.E., wrote that, when drunk with wine and myrrh, cannabis – known to him as “potamaugis” – produced visionary states and, at times, “immoderate laughter.”46
Etymologists at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, after much soul-searching, concluded in 1980 that the Old Testament “kineboisin,” which was part of the holy anointing oil that God commanded Moses to apply in Exodus 30:23, and very likely was also the source of the ritual incense used by the Jews until about 300 B.C.E., actually was cannabis. The similarity between the Semitic word “kanbos” and the Scythian “cannabis” also implies the Semitic origins of the latter.47 A British physician, writing in 1903, maintained that the “honeycomb” in the Song of Solomon 4:11 and 5:1, and the “honey-wood” in 1 Samuel 14:25-29 actually referred to cannabis. In the latter reference, Jonathan dipped a rod in the honeycomb and “put his hand to his mouth and his eyes brightened.”48 Since the Israelites living in the time of the Old Testament traded with the cannabis-using peoples around them, it is reasonable to believe that suggestions of their own use are accurate.
Zoroastrianism, which arose in Persia around 500 B.C.E., derived from Hindu roots and influenced Judaism, Christianity and Islam: the magi of the Christian nativity story were Zoroastrians. Much of the Zend-Avesta, the book containing the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster, came directly from the Hindu Vedas. In the story of the prophet’s birth, Zoroaster’s soul came to earth with rain, which grew plants that were eaten by his parent’s cows. His soul-body was transmuted into milk, which his parents drank mixed with “haoma” (hemp) and conceived Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, who entered the world laughing. Haoma, described as being yellow or gold in color, and growing on mountain slopes in the Hindu Kush, when properly prepared and drunk in a pious manner, was said to bestow wisdom, courage, success, health, long life, greatness, and protection from the ill will of others. Young women searching for husbands, married women hoping to conceive, and students seeking knowledge were advised to utilize its divine powers.49
Although most modern Christian sects take a puritanical stance against psychotropics, early history tells another story. The tradition of Eucharist probably derives from earlier sacramental traditions – from Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, etc. – in which hemp and other psychotropic substances were employed. The magi may have included cannabis among their gifts to the infant Jesus. Christ, or the Messiah, meaning “the anointed one,” was anointed with holy oil containing hemp seed oil, and may well have learned the Eucharist ceremony directly from other hemp-using sects such as the Gnostics.50
When the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in the 3rd century, he declared it to be the mandatory state religion, extending the life of his crumbling empire by usurping the power of the early Christian church. Fifty years later, the emperor Theodosius the Great forbade the practice of all other religions. Incense burning was banned and most of the hemp-consuming religions were forced underground. In the 13th century, the Inquisition specifically outlawed cannabis ingestion along with many other natural remedies, and in the following century, the use of hemp – whether to commune with the divine, to heal, or simply to celebrate – was branded as witchcraft, for which practitioners could be put to death. Among those charged was Joan of Arc, whom the inquisitors accused of using several “witch” herbs, including cannabis, to hear voices. In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal fiat declaring hemp to be an unholy sacrament of “satanic masses,” as part of the church’s general assault on the Arabic culture and the Moors in Spain.51
The ban lasted for more than 150 years, although it did not go unopposed; French Benedictine monk and radical dissenter Francois Rabelais (1483-1553), a brilliant scholar, lawyer, and physician, satirized both church and state in the esoteric book series Gargantua and Pantagruel. He devoted three chapters to a botanical description of “Pantagruelion” (his euphemism for hemp), giving a panegyric account of its many virtues:
Just as [the drink] Plantagruel has been the ideal and symbol of all joyous perfection … in Pantagruelion, too, I see such enormous potential, such energy, so many perfections, so many admirable accomplishments, that [without] its powers … our kitchens would be unspeakable, our tables disgusting, even if they were covered with all sorts of exquisite delicacies – and our beds would offer no delight …. Without Pantagruelion, millers could not carry wheat to their mills, or bring back flour. Without Pantagruelion, how would lawyers ever manage to bring their briefs to court? How, without it, would you ever carry plaster into workshops? Or draw water from wells? Without Pantagruelion, … the noble art of printing would surely perish. What would we use to make window coverings? How would we ring our church bells? The priests of Isis are adorned with Pantagruelion, as are the statue-bearing priests around the world, and all human beings when they first come into this world. All the wool-bearing trees of India, the cotton vines of Tylos, in the Persian Sea, like the cotton plants of Arabia, and the cotton vines of Malta do not adorn as many people as this one herb. It covers armies against rain and cold, …. It shapes and makes possible boots, and half boots, and sea boots, spats, and laced boots, and shoes, and dancing shoes, slippers, and hob boots. Pantagruelion strings bows, pulls crossbows tight, and makes slings. And just as if it were a sacred herb, like verbena, worshiped by the souls of the dead, corpses are never buried without it …. By the use of this herb, which captures and holds the waves of the air, great ships are sent hither and thither … leaped over the Atlantic Ocean, swept past both tropics, vaulted down under the torrid zone, and measured the whole zodiac, frisking along under the equinoxes, with both the poles dancing on their horizon … nations which nature seemed to keep hidden away, obscure, impenetrable, unknown, have now come to us, and we to them – something even the birds could not do, no matter how light their feathers or what powers of flight they are given.52
Predictably, the Roman Catholic Church’s irrational and arbitrary prejudice against hemp continues today. During an address at the Vatican in November 1991, Pope John Paul II said, “There is certainly a clear difference between resorting to drugs and turning to alcohol. Whereas the moderate use of alcohol as a drink does not, in fact, clash with moral prohibitions and only abuse is to be condemned, taking drugs is, on the contrary, always illicit because it involves an unjustified and irrational renunciation of thinking, willing and acting as free persons.” Denial of truth has never disqualified anyone for the position of Pope, but considering the vexations associated with alcohol use in the Western world, the current prohibition on cannabis seems an obvious case of religious and cultural bias.
Ethiopian Christianity predates the formation of the Roman Catholic Church. In ancient times, Ethiopia was known as the “Land of Incense,” and the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church maintains to this day a cannabis-based Eucharist practice that church elders trace to their ancestors before the time of Christ.53
The Jamaica-based Rastafarian movement, which functions as a social, cultural and political philosophy for its followers, with spiritual ganja smoking at its core, probably arose from the Ethiopian Coptics who were brought to Jamaica as slaves in the 1800s. Adherents of Rastafarianism claim that ganja is the “healing of the nation” and “wisdom weed,” finding scriptural justification for their views in the Western Bible, just as the Egyptian and Ethiopian Coptics do.54 Rastafarianism teaches that smoking cannabis in a ritual manner cleanses both body and mind, preparing the user for meditation, prayer, the reception of wisdom, reasoning, and communal harmony with others, a central value of their religion.
Following the rise of Islam, which forbade alcohol, ritual consumption of hashish (cannabis resin) was common in the Middle East; bhang represented the spirit of the prophet Khizr, or Elijah. The spiritual powers of cannabis were particularly prized by the Sufis – so named because they wore wool (suf) for penance – who believed that spiritual enlightenment could not be obtained through rational perception, but only during states of altered consciousness.55 A Sufi religious leader named Haider, living in the mountains of Rama around 500 C.E., discovered the euphoric powers of hemp and shared the secret with his followers. His monk Sheraz told the disciples that God had bestowed upon them the “special favor” of a plant “which will dissipate the shadows which cloud your souls and brighten your spirits.” Sufi poets were soon praising the virtues of the “cup of Haider” which had “the fragrance of amber and sparkles like a green emerald.”56 The Turkish Sufi poet Fuzuli claimed that “hashish is the Sufi master himself.”57
In his appendix to The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report of 1893-1894, J.M. Campbell wrote:
Like his Hindu brother, the Musalman fakir reveres bhang as the lengthener of life, the freer from the bonds of self. Bhang brings union with the Divine Spirit. “We drank bhang and the mystery I am He grew plain. So grand a result, so tiny a sin.”
Campbell also described the practice of Trinath worship, common to both Hindus and Moslems:
… the use of ganja is considered essential …. It appears to be observed at all times, and at all seasons by Hindus and Muhammadans alike, the latter calling it Tinlakh Pir …. Originally one pice worth of betel nut was offered to the god. But now ganja – it may be in large quantities – is preferred, and during the incantations and the performance of the ritual it is incumbent on all present to smoke.58
In 1253, the authorities in Cairo began a 125-year-long crusade to establish control over the primarily lower-class Sufis. The Cafour, a large garden/park in the middle of the city, was rife with “qinnab” (cannabis), which was destroyed in a huge bonfire visible for miles around. As with modern attempts at prohibition, production of hashish merely moved outside the city. By 1324, the government had decided to adopt sterner measures: for thirty days troops destroyed every hemp plant they could find, but the countryside was too vast and the local customs were too ingrained. In an ominous harbinger for victims of the current prohibition, in 1378 the authorities turned to murder and torture of the citizens to enforce their sanctions. Under orders from Soudan Sheikhoumi, the emir of Joneima, qinnab farmers were hunted down and executed or imprisoned. Known hashish users were rounded up and had their teeth yanked out by soldiers with tongs, before assemblages of horrified citizenry. In spite of these draconian methods, hashish use is still prevalent today throughout North Africa and the Middle East.59
From the perspective of mystic spirituality, the history of human religion as represented by the rise of modern Judaism, Christianity and Islam is regressive, not progressive, moving away from harmony with nature, personal enlightenment, and the means for attaining it. It is perhaps no coincidence that as the ancient religions’ concept of Great Mother or Earth Goddess was discarded, women became more oppressed and psychotropic plants lost favor or were prohibited. The ancients recognized the Feminine as the source of life and sustenance, for both body and spirit.
Philosopher Terrence McKenna writes:
All of the mental functions which we associate with humanness, including recall, projective imagination, language, naming, magical speech, dance, and a sense of religion may have emerged out of interaction with hallucinogenic plants …. Our present global crisis is more profound than any previous historical crisis, hence our solution must be equally drastic. I propose that we should adopt the plant as the organizational model for life in the 21st century, just as the computer seems to be the dominant mental/social model of the late 20th century, and the steam engine was the guiding image of the 19th century …. Returning to the bosom of the planetary partnership means trading the point of view of the history-created ego for a more maternal and intuitive style.60
D. Hemp and Essential Nutrition
The hemp plant is one of nature’s perfect foods, for both man and beast. According to the Old Testament, in Genesis 1:29-30:
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth…to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
And again, after the fall from grace of Adam and Eve, in Genesis 3:18: “…and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.”
Cannabis has been incorporated into the cooking of many cultures down through the centuries and across continents. As recently as World War II, hemp seed served as a primary famine-relief food in China, Australia, and Europe. It is eaten extensively today by many of the poor in India. They make a mixture called “bosa,” consisting of hemp seed and goosegrass (eleusine) seeds, and another called “mura,” made with parched wheat, amaranth or rice, and hemp seed. Sometimes it is used as one of the ingredients in chutney. Elsewhere, mothers in the Sotho tribe of South Africa feed their babies with pap mixed with ground hemp seed. Hemp seed makes all vegetables more palatable and makes a vegetarian meal completely nutritional. Both bhang and hemp seed are also used to flavor or strengthen alcoholic beverages.61
Hemp seed is the most complete protein to be found in the vegetable kingdom. It contains all the essential amino acids and all the essential fatty acids (EFAs) – linoleic (LA, or omega 6) and linolenic (LNA, or omega 3). Health experts have been advising for decades about the need for more unsaturated fats such as these in the human diet. Hemp seed is 30%-35% oil by weight, 80% of which is LA and LNA in the optimum three-to-one ratio. These compounds are not produced in the human body and must be supplied by our diet. The 80% EFAs in hemp-seed oil is the highest total percentage among all the common food plants used by man, ahead of flax oil which has 72% EFAs.62
U. Erasmus, author of Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill, states that the proportions of LA and LNA in hemp-seed oil are perfectly balanced to meet human requirements for EFAs. Unlike flax oil and others, hemp-seed oil can be used continuously without developing either a deficiency or an imbalance of EFAs. Additionally, the peroxide value (PV) – the degree of rancidity – of hemp-seed oil is 0.1-0.5, which is very low and safe and leaves its taste unspoiled. In contrast, the PV of virgin olive oil is about 20, and the PV of corn oil is about 40-60.63
EFAs are precursors to the prostaglandin series (PGE 1, 2, and 3). PGE 1 inhibits the production of cholesterol and dilates the blood vessels; it also prevents the clotting of blood platelets in arteries. A study in 1992 reported that a diet of hemp seed causes the serum levels of total cholesterol to drop dramatically.64 Blood pressure also decreases after several weeks of eating hemp seed, apparently due to the steady supply of EFAs.65
Hemp oil, in addition to EFAs, contains about 8% by volume of palmitic, stearic, oleic, and arachidic acids. The seed contains 26%-31% crude protein and the meal contains about 6% carbohydrates, 5%-10% fat, 12% crude fiber, 10% moisture and 7% ash.66
The globulin edestin found in hemp protein closely resembles the globulin found in blood plasma, so it is easily digested, absorbed, and utilized by the human body. It is so compatible with the human digestive system that the Czechoslovakian Tubercular Nutrition Study, conducted in 1955, found hemp seed to be the only food that can successfully treat tuberculosis, which literally consumes the body by wasting because of the severe impairment of the nutritive processes, hence the bygone name consumption. This dread disease has killed millions of people over the centuries and, although once in abeyance in the United States due to the advent of antibiotics, is making a strong resurgence with new antibiotic-resistant super strains.67
Edestin is vital to the maintenance of a healthy immune system, as it is used to manufacture antibodies against invasive agents,68 and hemp edestin is considered such a perfect protein that, in 1941, Science complained that: “Passage of the Marijuana Law of 1937 has placed restrictions upon trade in hemp seed that, in effect, amount to prohibition …. It seems clear that the long and important career of the protein is coming to a close in the United States.”69 Recently, scientists have been studying the use of hemp-seed extracts to boost the immune systems of victims of cancer and AIDS.
Hemp is a welcome part of the diet of many animal species. Bhang is fed to cattle before mating and to increase lactation. Oxen and elephants are commonly fed hemp to relieve their fatigue and give them greater strength and endurance. Deer and groundhogs are known to feed on wild hemp. When hemp seed is fed regularly to poultry, they never go off their feed and they don’t require hormones or water-retaining arsenic compounds to help them gain weight. Their egg production also increases. Hemp-seed meal has an effect analogous to grit in the diet, keeping the birds’ gizzard linings free from corrugations and erosions.70 The waning of the wild bird populations in the United States is directly traceable in large degree to the prohibition on hemp, as wild hemp seed was their main food source.
Cannabis is widely used in Asia to treat animal diseases. Hemp leaves are burned in heaps to disinfect stables and barns and to treat respiratory problems. A bolus of hemp flowers, sugar, and grain is fed to livestock to treat colic, constipation, diarrhea, worms, and rinderpest (a form of diphtheria).71
Nutritional hemp-seed products are not readily available in the United States today because of the anti-drug law’s requirement that the seeds be sterilized. This severely depletes their nutritional content and lessens their freshness. In addition, all imported nuts and seeds must be fumigated with methyl bromide, an extremely volatile ozone-depleter. Some companies have attempted to press oil from unsterilized seed in Chile, but EFAs are very sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen, so the cost of the required careful storage and transportation procedures – in a cold, dark vacuum – to preserve the potency of the EFAs is prohibitive.
Although hemp-seed oil is currently 2-3 times more expensive than flax oil, it has more applications due to its superior taste: for such foods as hemp cheese and “hempeh” burgers. However, if hemp were cultivated in the United States, the oil would be as inexpensive as corn oil and exponentially healthier. Hemp could be used in place of corn for most food applications at far less cost to the environment in terms of pesticide and herbicide use.
Several factors point to the absolute necessity of reviving hemp seed as a crucial element of the modern human diet. Our increasing reliance on animal fats has caused an unprecedented rise in the number of illnesses and deaths attributable to these unhealthy foods. Our medical systems are overwhelmed and the cost of the pharmaceuticals to correct these lifestyle-spawned problems has skyrocketed. The amount of resources necessary to produce these expensive foods, in an ever-tightening environment of increased world population and decreased natural resources, is becoming prohibitive. The world’s annual groundwater overdraft of 163 million acre-feet is enough to grow 198 million tons of seed/grain, equivalent to one tenth of the total world harvest. The amount of water required to produce a ton of chicken is 3500-7500 tons, and to produce a ton of beef, 15,000-70,000 tons of water are required. This is anywhere from five to seventy times as much as would be required to produce a ton of hemp seed. We can no longer afford to feast on the 3,300 calories-per-day of energy-and-resource-wasting diet that is the industrialized nations’ average. In fact, we can no longer even afford the 2,300 calories-per-day diet that is the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s minimum daily recommendation. The grain fed to U.S. livestock each year alone is enough to feed 400 million people. To cap the nightmare of this downward dietary-spiral, the antibiotics that are so cavalierly splashed about in the animal feed industry, which is the majority of use of the $25 billion/year in sales, are rapidly spawning new resistant bacteria, rendering these drugs ineffective for human illnesses when the need arises. All these myriad dangers would be averted by returning to the food that nature intended for humans to consume.72
E. Cannabis as Medicine
Mankind probably used cannabis as medicine at the same time or soon after it was first used for food, but the first recorded medical use was around 2300 B.C.E. when the legendary Chinese emperor Shen Nung prescribed “chu-ma” (female hemp) for treatment of constipation, gout, beri-beri, malaria, rheumatism and menstrual problems. Shen Nung classified chu-ma as one of the Superior Elixirs of Immortality. In the 2nd or 1st century B.C.E., the oldest pharmacopoeia in existence, the Pen-Ts’ao Ching, was compiled partially from ancient fragments of Shen Nung’s writings, including his prescriptions for chu-ma.73
The ancient Ayurvedic system of Indian medicine and the Arabic Unani Tibbi system made extensive use of the healing powers of cannabis. The list in India included treatments for: diarrhea; epilepsy; delirium and insanity; colic; rheumatism; gastritis; anorexia; consumption; fistula; nausea; fever; jaundice; bronchitis; leprosy; spleen disorders; diabetes; colds; anemia; menstrual pain; tuberculosis; elephantiasis; asthma; gout; constipation; and malaria. Other hemp preparations were used: to induce sleep; as a diuretic; against hydrophobia; for blood in the urine; for hemorrhoids; for skin diseases; and to relieve hay fever.74
The ancient Egyptians used cannabis as “a remedy to cool the uterus,” an enema, and as a poultice for an injured toenail, according to the Ebers Papyrus. The Ramses III Papyrus contains an ophthalmic prescription containing “smsmt” (hemp).75
In the Classical and Helenistic Eras, the 1st century Greek physician Pedacius Dioscorides described the medical utility of “kannabis emeros” (female hemp) in De Materia Medica (3:165-166):
… [the] round seed, which being eaten of much doth quench geniture, but being juiced when it is green is good for the pains of the ears… The root being sodden, and so laid on hath ye force to assuage inflammations and to dissolve Oedemata, and to disperse ye obdurate matter about ye joints.
Around 200 C.E., the physician Galen described the Roman custom of sharing cannabis pastries with guests at banquets “cum aliis tragematis,” to inject the occasion with joy and laughter, making reference to it in De Facultatibus Alimentorum.76
In Africa, cannabis preparations were used for dysentery, malaria, and other fevers. Today, certain tribes treat snakebite with cannabis or smoke it before childbirth.77
Cannabis was a popular medicine in medieval Europe, in spite of attempts by the Roman Catholic Church to ban it, continuing up to the 20th century. It became an official member of the pharmaceutical repertoire in the New World as well. Pharmacists found cannabis useful for all the maladies the Indians and Chinese had been treating for centuries: dysentery; uterine hemorrhage; migraine; palsy; anthrax; blood poisoning; incontinence; leprosy; snakebite; tonsillitis; parasites; treatment of alcoholism; tetanus; typhus; hydrophobia; and a host of other problems.78
Dozens of remedies for various ailments were produced by major American pharmaceutical companies in the 19th and early 20th centuries, among them the stomachic Chlorodyne, and Corn Collodium, manufactured by Squibb Company; Casadein, Utroval, and Veterinary Colic Medicine by Parke-Davis; Eli Lilly produced Dr. Brown’s Sedative Tablets, Syrup Lobelia, Neurosine, and One Day Cough Cure; and Grimault and Sons marketed cannabis cigarettes to treat asthma. A preparation called Squire’s Extract was commonly used to alleviate the symptoms of tetanus, typhus, and hydrophobia.79
At the beginning of the 20th century, due to the increased use of injectable opiates and the higher profit potentials in the newly developed synthetics – aspirin, chloral hydrate and barbiturates – the use of inexpensive, non-patentable cannabis preparations gradually declined. By the time the deadly disadvantages of these new drugs were fully realized, the international prohibition of cannabis was well underway. In 1932, the British pharmacopoeia de-listed cannabis; in 1942, it was censored from the American pharmacopoeia and the Merck Index deleted it in 1950. The Indian pharmacopoeia, however, continued to list cannabis until 1960.
Despite the suppression of information, the false propaganda and the denials of efficacy by the U.S. and other governments, and by the profit-seeking pharmaceutical corporations, significant numbers of medical personnel and lay people have rediscovered the medical benefits of cannabis and hundreds of scientific articles and studies have attested to the true facts.
Modern therapeutic uses for hemp include: as an anti-emetic for cancer-chemotherapy patients and sufferers of AIDS-wasting; treatment for glaucoma; as an anti-convulsant and anti-spasmodic for multiple sclerosis victims, muscular dystrophy sufferers, paraplegics and quadriplegics, and epileptics; to relieve breathing difficulty in asthmatics; to control inflammation; to inhibit tumors; to relieve migraines; to treat ulcers, colitis, ileitis, spastic colon and gastritis; treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum (a form of morning sickness in pregnant women); to reduce chronic pain, premenstrual syndrome, menstrual cramps, and labor pains and increase uterine contractions; relief from herpes and symptomatic relief from gonorrhea and syphilis; as an antiarthritic, relieving rheumatic diseases such as osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis; treatment for pruritis; as an antidepressant and treatment for mood disorders, alcoholism and opiate addiction; as an antibiotic; and for insomnia. Some less common uses are as treatment for: Crohn’s disease; diabetic gastroparesis; pseudotumor cerebri; systemic sclerosis (scleroderma); dystonias; tinnitus; and phantom limb pain.80
The conservative Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, a 2800 page encyclopedia of clinical information for practicing healthcare professionals, the most widely-used medical text in the world, with ten medical doctors on its board of directors, in its 1987 edition, explained:
… chronic or periodic administration of cannabis or cannabis substances produces some psychic dependence because of the desired subjective effects, but no physical dependence; there is no abstinence syndrome when the drug is discontinued.
Cannabis can be used on an episodic but continual basis without evidence of social or psychic dysfunction. In many users the term dependence with its obvious connotations probably is misapplied…. There is still little evidence of biologic damage, even in the areas intensely investigated, such as pulmonary, immunologic and reproductive functions…. Marijuana used in the U.S. has a higher THC content than in the past. Many critics have incorporated this fact into warnings, but the chief opposition to the drug rests on a moral and political, and not a toxicologic, foundation. (Emphasis added).81
The author of that section of the manual, “Drugs and Abuse,” Dr. John P. Morgan, M.D., Professor of Pharmacology at the City University of New York, and now a member of the board of directors of the National Organization for the Reform of Marihuana Laws (NORML), believes, “The government’s purpose in regulating medicine is to protect patients from toxicity. Marihuana has no overdose level.”
This lack of ultimate toxicity is perhaps one of the most astounding medical attributes of cannabis. The Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) lists approximately 50,000 drugs and preparations in its 4000 pages, hundreds of which are quite deadly. Up to 140,000 persons die annually in the United States due to adverse drug reactions.82 Indeed, according to Dr. Michael Wolfe, of the Boston University School of Medicine, in a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, approximately 16,500 people die each year of complications from aspirin and ibuprofen, both readily available over-the-counter drugs.
The lethality of any drug in the present pharmacopoeia is measured by a value known as the LD50, defined as the dosage amount which causes death in 50% of the animals or humans taking the drug. There is no LD50 for cannabis. The toxicity of a drug can be estimated by a value called the “therapeutic ratio” or “safety factor.”
The following table compares the toxicity of alcohol, which is unscheduled in the current U.S. prohibitory scheme, barbiturates, which are in Schedule IV, a low regulatory level, and THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, which is in Schedule I, the highest level, if natural, and Schedule II, if synthetic:
1,000-5,000 mg. 3-50
Because no human fatalities have ever been recorded for THC, the values given in the table are for the effective human dose and the lethal dose for mice.83
In these dark days of rapidly rising medical costs, particularly pharmaceutical, cannabis is a potential bright spot. It is extremely inexpensive to produce; even if heavily taxed, a marihuana cigarette could be marketed for a dollar or less as compared to $30-$40 per pill wholesale for the best legally-available cancer chemotherapy anti-emetic, ondansetron. In addition, the ondansetron (Zofran) often must be administered over a period of hours through an intravenous drip while the patient remains in a hospital bed costing hundreds of dollars, while cannabis can be titrated quickly, easily and safely, puff by puff.84 There are vaporizing systems available which eliminate the actual burning of the plant, rendering the delivery of the active ingredient even safer.
Unfortunately for the medical and financial health of the general public, this inexpensive aspect of cannabis is one of the very reasons it is prohibited. As a botanical, cannabis cannot be patented so, in order to develop specific drugs containing any of the more than sixty cannabinoid structures found in the hemp plant, in the current regulatory climate, a pharmaceutical company would have to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into research and overcoming regulatory hurdles. More millions would have to be spent learning about the synergistic relationships between various combinations of these cannabinoid compounds in order to discover patentable products which could be marketed for enough money to recoup the investment costs; however, most people would be loath to impoverish themselves buying expensive synthetic pharmaceuticals when the same effect could be obtained safely and naturally from a plant utilized by millions of people for thousands of years. For this reason, the major pharmaceutical corporations have found it greatly in their financial interest to continue the current cannabis prohibition. In 1976, Eli Lilly & Co., Abbott Labs, Pfizer and Smith, Kline and French all lobbied the federal government to prevent any positive research into medical uses for cannabis.85 In the meantime, thousands of cancer patients and victims of other diseases suffer needlessly.
Research is presently being done on the effects of agricultural fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides on the environment – including wildlife, the food chain and waterways – and links to human disease, in particular, cancers. Noticeable degradation has occurred in all of these environmental areas in the past century. According to Tom Mount, in his book World Medicine, “farmers in the Corn Belt have the highest incidence of leukemia, prostate, and pancreatic cancer deaths,” attributable to the “introduction of chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides in 1945.” About half the pesticides used in the United States today are sprayed on cotton plants with the resulting runoff contaminating groundwater and streams. Around 15,000 lakes in the U.S. are so poisoned that nothing can live in them.86
A hemp crop requires relatively little fertilizer, has few natural predators and shades out weeds, acting as its own mulch, thus requiring no pesticides or herbicides and it even absorbs heavy-metal contaminants from soil, gradually purifying the earth. All of the commercial products now made with corn and cotton could be made safer and better with hemp, stopping deadly diseases before they start.
Perhaps the most startling new research on cannabis in conjunction with the current state of our environment has been done in the field of free radicals and their effects on the human nervous and immune systems. Free radicals are molecules with loose electrons that interrupt cellular processes by preventing the transfer of molecules from cell to cell (e.g. hemoglobin cells carry oxygen molecules to all the other cells in the body), causing damage to the organism. The mammalian free-radical defense system consists of excitation of the nervous and immune systems: the more free radicals present, the more excited the nervous and immune systems become.
Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the human environment has been deluged with an overabundance of chemical free radical sources, far exceeding the body’s capacity to handle the response, which can be more harmful than the free radicals themselves. The body literally “burns out” nervous or immune function, creating a condition known as Excito-toxic Neuroendocrine Stress Response (ENSR),87 behavioral adaptations of which may manifest as hyperactivity in males (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD) or eating disorders in females (anorexia/bulimia).88 Over a lifetime of exposure to excess free radicals, it is entirely possible that Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, senility and other age-related diseases and degenerative afflictions of short-term consciousness and motor function are actually the result of the ENSR syndrome.89
One major source of free radicals in our environment is radiation. Mammals have evolved to utilize the wavelengths of radiation which penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. Mammals cannot use or withstand radiation outside of the visible spectrum with higher or lower wavelengths such as gamma-radiation or x-radiation which can cause ENSR via a buildup of free radicals or even ions in cells unaccustomed to such radiation.90
Among the types of light or radiation penetrating the Earth’s atmosphere, ultraviolet (UV) is the lowest wavelength capable of reaching Earth’s surface. Because the composition of the atmosphere determines which wavelengths can enter and which are blocked, sudden shifts in atmospheric conditions can lead to relatively rapid shifts (in evolutionary terms) in the intensity and wavelength of UV penetrating the atmosphere.91 UV is the lower edge of visible light, the light wavelength that most organisms have evolved to utilize or withstand. The middle ranges of UV radiation (UV-B) are necessary for Vitamin D synthesis at normal, low intensity, but above a certain intensity, a buildup of chemical free radicals occurs, leading to ENSR.92
The intensity of UV-B radiation over North America has increased markedly in recent years due to the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer, another facet of our industrialized society, and is currently at a biologically harmful extreme that can damage human immune function in a dose-dependent cumulative fashion, leading to increased severity of infectious diseases. Increased diagnoses of skin cancers also confirm the heightened danger of ground-level UV-B radiation and increases in many types of ENSR, including infectious disease rate increases consistent with diminished immune response, reflect a ubiquitous, population-wide overexposure to environmental stresses of many types, including UV-B, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme.93
The mammalian immune system is composed of two basic parts: the peripheral immune system consists of infection fighting immune cells which travel the bloodstream seeking invading viruses and bacteria; the glandular immune system consists of lymph glands containing stationary immune cells which wait for the blood to bring infections to them and act as filters to supplement the peripheral immune system. The peripheral immune system is susceptible to UV-B radiation wherein the cells become over-excited and shut down to avoid further harm, causing lack of peripheral immunity to infectious diseases. The glandular immune system is located in shaded portions of the body (throat, armpits, abdomen, and groin) suggesting an evolutional adaptation to solar radiation.
Symptoms of ENSR radiation sickness include: pain; inflammation; hyperthermia (fever); loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting; hyperactivity; dehydration; excessive salivation; cancer of skin, salivary gland, or other organs; eye fluid pressure changes, characterized by acute eye fluid pressure reduction or chronic pressure increase (chronic overuse of the pressure reduction mechanism leads to “burn out” and accounts for the current high rate of glaucoma in the elderly and radiology technicians); cardiovascular shock; and immune system failure characterized by peripheral immune cell over-excitation leading to cell death, auto-suppression of peripheral immune cells and atrophy in lymph glands.94
UV-B radiation causes the cannabis plant to produce cannabinoid resins for protection95 and data indicates that mammalian cannabis use is an ancient protective adaptation to UV-B induced ENSR. The cannabinoid receptors on the human immune cells are more similar genetically to the UV-B sensitive melanin-producing receptors (the body’s suntan defense against UV radiation) than to any other type of receptor.96 The medicinal effects of cannabis are directly antidotal to ENSR symptoms including: pain relief; inflammation reduction; hypothermia (lowered body temperature); increased appetite and nausea reduction; sedation; dry mouth to neurologically reinforce rehydration and stem excess salivation; tumor shrinkage; an a1ternate mechanism for eye fluid pressure reduction; widening of the arteries and heart rate changes consistent with reversal of cardiovascular shock; and immune system changes characterized by mild suppression of peripheral immune cells, enhanced production of glandular immune cells, increased blood flow without increased blood pressure, allowing lymph glands to increase filtering action, and anti-viral and anti-bacterial activity.97
Because a certain duration of low-intensity UV-B exposure is necessary for Vitamin D synthesis and sleep cycle regulation, staying completely out of the sun is not a viable alternative to over-exposure. Melanin and sunscreens, while effective at preventing sunburn and one type of skin cancer, are unable to prevent UV-B damage to the immune system’s ability to cope with viral and bacterial invasions, and are completely ineffective at blocking other free radical sources, particularly dietary, another main source.98 Vitamins and other anti-oxidants have proven to be partially effective at neutralizing free radicals in the blood stream, but in high doses, can actually behave like free radicals because the body has not evolved to utilize higher doses than are found in unrefined, natural foods.
While a number of pharmaceutical preparations may be useful in treating individual symptoms of ENSR, each of the medications can have side effects inconsistent with ENSR reversal. Antibiotics, for example, are a particularly bad solution to ENSR-weakened immune system function because, although useful at counteracting bacterial infection once it has occurred, they don’t affect viruses or boost overall systemic immunity. To the contrary, overuse of these drugs has led to the mutation and genetic dominance of resistant bacterial strains.
Although throughout evolution mammals have ingested cannabis primarily by eating it, introducing the cannabinoids into the bloodstream for oxidation at fairly slow rates, pharmaceutical synthetic THC (Marinol) in capsules is not a workable substitute for naturally occurring THC, which reflects UV-B at 280 and 283 nanometers wave-length and is considered by most authorities to be the most pharmacologically active cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, as well as the one which binds most readily to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Natural cannabinoids have evolved to act synergistically; the receptors in the immune system, for instance, react more to CB1 and CB2 than to THC. CB1 and CB2 are also the prime cannabinoids useful for controlling seizures in epileptics. Marinol does not contain any of the other sixty-five cannabinoids which occur naturally in the cannabis plant. Another difficulty with orally ingesting THC, as compared with vaporizing or smoking cannabis, is titration. Uneven digestion rates lead to unpredictable dosage rates and variances of the lag time from administration to effect. Also, the liver metabolizes up to 95% of the active ingredient before it reaches the blood stream. For acute situations, vaporization is a safe, effective, and quick treatment, although it does tend to down-regulate the number of cannabinoid receptors produced, requiring more frequent dosing.99
In addition to cannabis’ efficacy at controlling ENSR symptoms, for which no currently approved pharmaceuticals are available, recent studies have also shown it to be the most effective remedy for protecting brain cells after a stroke or head trauma, which cause the release of excess glutamate, a brain chemical, resulting in irreversible brain damage. Doctors rely on antioxidants to protect stroke and trauma victims from toxic levels of glutamate and, according to scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health, cannabinoids are more potent and perform better than traditional anti-oxidants such as Vitamins C and E. Another startling discovery by researchers at Complutense University and Autonoma University in Madrid, Spain is that cannabinoids kill glioma cells (brain tumor) by a messenger protein called ceremide and an intra-cellular signaling cascade. Also, contrary to some prohibitionist claims, Dr. Donald Abrams, a University of California – San Francisco professor and oncologist, announced on July 6, 2000, at the 13th International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, that the results of his testing confirmed that cannabis is in fact safe for HIV patients on protease inhibitor drugs which are anti-retroviral drugs that check the AIDS virus.
All of these recent discoveries leave no doubt that cannabis is an effective medicine with many possible uses and is in many cases, the only effective medication. 100
It’s difficult to know how many of our nationally problematic diseases are environmentally inspired or a product of current lifestyles, but it is safe to say that many are. For example, Type II diabetes, triggered by obesity caused by poor diet and lack of exercise, is at an all-time high, paving the way for heart attacks, strokes, blindness and kidney failures, with an estimated yearly cost of $98 billion. Children as young as three years old are being diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin, a very powerful drug which wreaks havoc on developing brains and body systems. American pharmaceutical corporations are only too happy to provide more drugs to treat particular symptoms, especially if insurance companies or the national treasury will pay the ever-increasing costs. In February 2002, the National Institute for Health Care Management released a study showing that 2001 drug costs were up 17.1% over the previous year, reaching a total of more than $150 billion.
An article in the Chicago Tribune discussed the rising incidence of road rage, air rage, and other manifestations of what has been identified as Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). Dr. Emil Coccaro, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago Hospitals and a consultant for Abbot Laboratories, stated that Americans’ inability to cope with societal changes has left 20% of the population with hostility levels serious enough to be a health hazard. Abbot is advertising as a remedy Depakote (divalpoex sodium), which they brought onto the market in 1995 as a treatment for bipolar disorder, manic episodes, epileptic seizures, and migraine headaches, and now IED, with a potential patient base of some fifty million.101
Glaxo Wellcome has also apparently found another use for their high-priced anti-emetic Zofran (ondansetron). In a study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Dr. Bankole Johnson, a psychiatrist with the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, published results in the August 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that Zofran would be effective in treating the fourteen million American alcoholics by regulating the interaction between two chemical messengers in the brain, seratonin and dopamine, which create a craving for alcohol when out of balance.
It would make infinitely more sense to try an inexpensive, natural treatment proven safe by millions over thousands of years first, in most cases, before turning to powerful drugs that, although approval for them has been granted by the FDA, are relatively untried on the wide variety of humans and may have serious deleterious side effects. No drug can replace proper diet and exercise, but cannabis has had a long history of success at treating alcoholism, ADHD, general anxiety and other mood disorders, as well as many other lifestyle diseases. On a separate note, with the incidence of counterfeit pharmaceuticals becoming more prevalent – a serious problem with potentially life threatening consequences – due in part to the many middlemen involved in their distribution, another benefit of natural cannabis is revealed. Anyone providing their own medication by growing it themselves could be assured of the authenticity of the product.
It is up to medical doctors and their patients to decide, in a free country, which approach is correct to treat a particular syndrome; politics should not enter the equation. It is abhorrent when the general populace is denied an inexpensive, safe, and effective herbal remedy which could be used to treat many of the diseases caused by the stresses of modern life and is forced to spend vast amounts of money buying single-symptom-specific pharmaceuticals with potentially harmful side effects because of the successful lobbying efforts of large corporations. The Constitution of the United States was created to empower the individual to be able to avoid such situations and the separation of powers was designed to enforce these individual rights.
F. Cannabis in America – A History
Cannabis certainly arrived in America in prehistoric times, either with birds migrating across the Bering Strait or possibly brought by explorers from China. Because sailors invariably carried seeds in case of shipwreck, it could also have arrived in drifting wreckage.102 Some of the earliest evidence of hemp in North America comes from the ancient Mound Builders of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley. Hundreds of clay pipes, some containing cannabis residue and wrapped in hemp cloth, were found in the “Death Mask Mound” of the Hopewell Mound Builders, who lived in what is now the Ohio area around 400 B.C.E. In 1891, ethnologist W.H. Holmes found large pieces of hemp fabric at a burial site in Morgan County, Tennessee. He wrote: “friends of the dead deposited with the body not only the fabrics worn during life but a number of skeins of the fiber from which the fabrics were probably made. This fiber has been identified as that of the Cannabis sativa, or wild hemp.”103
Two millennia after the Mound Builders, Florentine Giovanni da Verrazano, for whom the New York Verrazano Narrows is named, wrote of the natives encountered during a 1524 French expedition to the Virginia area: “We found those folkes to be more white than those that we found before, being clad with certain leaves that hang on boughs of trees, which they sew together with threds of wilde hemp.”104 Jacques Cartier saw hemp on all three of his voyages to Canada between 1535 and 1541. He reported that “the land groweth full of Hempe which groweth of it selfe, which is as good as possibly may be seene, and as strong.” And Samuel de Champlain noted in 1605 that the natives used “wild hemp” to tie their bone fishhooks.
Although hemp seed is excellent food, the first European colonists, being short of labor, opted to grow other crops such as corn when they first arrived. The motherlands, however, wanted hemp and there was not enough growing wild to adequately supply the need. To encourage hemp cultivation, Quebec colony minister Jean Talon confiscated the colonists’ thread, forcing them to buy it back with hemp and hemp seed.105 The English colonists were also compelled to grow hemp at Jamestown under the terms of their 1607 contract with the Virginia Company. Governor Sir Thomas Dale brought instructions from England for an experimental communal garden of hemp and flax, and by 1616, the Puritans claimed about their hemp that there was “none better in England or Holland.”106
Despite the urgent need for hemp, the colonists made more money with less labor by catering to the European nicotine addicts and only when the tobacco market periodically crashed did the farmers return to growing more hemp. In response to this reluctance, in 1619, the Virginia Company directed that every Jamestown resident was to “set 100 [hemp] plants and the governor to set 5000.” The Virginia General Assembly required the colonists to grow “both English and Indian hemp.” Gabriel Wisher was given a budget of 100£ Sterling with which to entice skilled Swedish and Polish hemp dressers to immigrate to America for a payment of 10£ each.107
About this same time, Thomas Morton founded the Merrymount trading settlement in Massachusetts. He and his followers co-mingled with the local natives, smoking hemp in their peace pipes. Eventually, the Puritans took offense at their bonfire and Maypole parties and burned the outpost down; Morton was sent to an English prison.
In 1637, the General Court at Hartford, Connecticut ordered all families to plant at least a spoonful of hemp seed and, in 1639, Massachusetts followed suit. In 1635, the first American ropewalk for manufacturing hemp rope was established at Salem and, in 1642, a consortium of Boston merchants persuaded English ropemaker John Harrison to immigrate to the colony by promising him a lifelong monopoly in the area. Several colonies passed statutes making hemp, flax, and tar legal tender for paying debts and taxes and, in 1662, the British Parliament authorized Virginia governor William Berkeley to offer a bounty of two pounds of tobacco for each pound of finished hemp. By 1690, there was enough hemp, flax, and cotton being grown in the colonies to supply a paper industry; the first paper mill in America was established in Pennsylvania by the Rittenhouse company.108
The success of hemp cultivation in America was impressive. A Dutch farmer, Antoine Le Page du Pratz, hired as an overseer by some French plantations near present-day New Orleans, wrote in his journal in 1719: “I ought not to omit to take notice, that hemp grows naturally on the lands adjoining to the lakes on the west of the Mississippi. The stalks are as thick as one’s finger, and about six feet long. They are quite like ours in the wood, the leaf and the rind.”109
Colonial governments used various methods to encourage hemp cultivation, with varying degrees of severity and success. The 1720-1722 sessions of the Connecticut General Assembly approved a bounty of four shillings per “gross hundred” of partially processed hemp, while Virginia passed compulsory laws, fining farmers who failed to comply. South Carolina’s legislature voted, in 1733, to pay Richard Hall a salary to educate the public on the benefits of hemp and the need for its cultivation. This included writing a book, promoting the industry for three years, and traveling to Holland to procure good hemp seed. These governments were hoping to attain economic stability for their colonies with the hemp crop.
Jared Eliot, in his Essays Upon Field Husbandry in New England, written in 1739, touted the potential of hemp as a trademark product of the colonies: “England is possessed of the Woolen Trade, and Ireland of the Linnen Trade; so that this Hemp Trade lies open to us, which may in time become our Staple for Returns Home; and so bring the Balance of Trade to be in our Favour, which has always as yet been against us.”110
Unfortunately for the colonies, the English crown was not interested in having them develop a “trademark product.” To keep them dependent and under Great Britain’s thumb, a ban was placed on spinning and weaving. The colonies were expected to furnish only raw materials, to nourish the motherland’s economy and labor force, and to buy back finished products at value-added prices.
Thus, a positive trade balance was impossible to achieve. In the 18th century however, English merchants were so overstocked with dry goods that they were dumping linens on the American market at fire-sale prices. The effect of this was that spinners and weavers, who could no longer make a living in Ireland, in 1718, began to emigrate to Massachusetts in a great wave that peaked in 1745. These immigrants introduced improved spinning methods for flax and hemp, and New England women soon began holding spinning bees. By the time of the Revolutionary War, the colony was self-sufficient enough to boycott English fabric products. The paper industry also thrived on the increased supply of rags.
Several instructional manuals appeared during the Revolutionary era, often at the behest of colonial governments eager to establish stable, self-reliant economies using hemp cultivation as a foundation. The Massachusetts House of Representatives commissioned Edmund Quincy to write A Treatise of Hemp-Husbandry, in 1765, which stated: “…the two most important materials which the Inhabitants of these Colonies should be principally encouraged in the growth of, are flax and hemp, being the most extensively useful of any which can be so easily and generally produced in North America.” Edward Antil, in the introduction to his Observations on Raising and Dressing of Hemp, wrote in 1777:
Hemp is one of the most profitable productions the earth furnishes in northern climates; as it employs a great number of poor people in a very advantageous manner, if its manufacture is carried on properly: It … becomes worthy of the serious attention … of every trading man, who truly loves his country.111
In 1774, with the Revolutionary War imminent, prominent Virginia landowner/politician Robert “King” Carter predicted that his tobacco “next summer will be in little demand” and instructed his overseer: “in place of tobacco – hemp and flax will be grown.” More mandatory cultivation laws were passed: “as a preparation for war …. Each tithable … is bound to deliver every year one pound each of dressed hemp and flax or two pounds of either…under oath that it was of his own growth.”112 Hemp was essential to many aspects of war, including: clothing for soldiers; sails and rope for the navy; and perhaps of greatest importance, as the major source of paper upon which the ideas that established the desire for independence were disseminated. Thomas Paine, exhorting his fellow colonists to fight for freedom in January 1776 in his masterful pamphlet Common Sense, pointed out that “in almost every article of defence we abound. Hemp flourishes even to rankness, so that we need not want cordage.” The first and second drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on Dutch hemp paper before the final approved draft was copied onto animal parchment and signed on August 2, 1776.113
In spite of the confidence of Thomas Paine, and all attempts to do so, the newly born United States of America never managed to produce enough hemp to meet the burgeoning need for it. Nonetheless, the Founding Fathers still hoped that hemp would eventually play a pivotal role in the new nation’s economy. Alexander Hamilton’s papers made repeated references to this. In his famous “report on manufactures” of 1791, written during his term as the first Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, he contended that hemp was “an article of importance enough to warrant the employment of extraordinary means in its favor.”114
As farmer/politicians, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had extensive experience with hemp cultivation and worked diligently to promote and improve its culture and reputation. Both men were aware of the medicinal uses of the herb and also cultivated virgin female hemp flowers for recreational smoking purposes. Jefferson was known to dislike tobacco, but exchanged gifts of smoking mixtures with Washington. In the 1790s, Washington began to cultivate “India hemp” (c. Indica), which was more resinous and psychoactively potent than the “common hemp” (c. Sativa). On 29 May 1796, he wrote in a letter to his overseer, William Pearce:
What was done with the Seed saved from the India hemp last summer? It ought, all of it, to have been sown again; that not only a stock of seed sufficient for my own purposes might have been raised, but to have disseminated the seed to others; as it is more valuable than the common hemp.
He instructed again in a letter dated 5 November 1796:
Let particular care be taken of the India Hemp seed, and as much good grd. allotted for its reception next year as is competent to sow.
All of Washington’s letters to Pearce throughout the 1790s were preoccupied thus with planting and saving seed of this particular stock. “Make the most of it,” he urged time and again, and suggested sowing the seed on ground that would be more secure from rabbits and birds.115
In addition to the commercial, medicinal, and recreational uses of hemp, Washington was also aware of its nutritional potential. In a letter to Dr. James Anderson, dated 26 May 1794, he acknowledged receipt of a dried sample of a traditional Northern European soup made with hemp seed and millet:
I thank you as well for the Seeds as for the Pamphlets which you had the goodness to send me. The artificial preparation of Hemp, from Silesia, is really a curiosity; and I shall think myself much favored in the continuance of your corrispondence ….116
Jefferson, as governor of Virginia in 1781, held reserves of “hemp in the back country” to pay for Virginia’s military supplies. The state purchasing agent, David Ross, notified Jefferson, on 16 May 1781, that the state’s delegates to the national capital in Philadelphia had “no encouragement from Congress … in money matters. Tobacco will not do there and we have nothing to depend on but our hemp.” The next month, on 21 June, the Virginia General Assembly voted to send the delegates hemp or tobacco to sell, to raise money for their expenses.117 Jefferson vastly preferred hemp as a crop over tobacco, but due to the pernicious power of tobacco’s addictive properties, the demand for it was as strong then as it is today. Jefferson was not overly fond of flax either. In a letter dated December 1815, he argued that: “flax is so injurious to our lands and of so scanty produce that I have never attempted it. Hemp, on the other hand, is abundantly productive and will grow forever on the same spot.”
The main difficulty of hemp production, in general, was that the breaking and beating of the stalk to obtain the fiber was extremely slow and labor-intensive. Because of this, Jefferson had almost despaired of the whole business; however, in the same December letter, he wrote that: “recently, a method of removing the difficulty of preparing hemp occurred to me, so simple and so cheap. I modified a threshing machine to turn a very strong hemp-break, much stronger and heavier than those for the hand. By this…it is more perfectly beaten than I have ever seen done by hand …. I expect that a single horse will do the breaking and beating of ten men.” Jefferson’s hemp-break received the first U.S. patent and he estimated a cost of $12-$15 to add the new device to any standard threshing machine.118
By 1810, Russia had become one of America’s largest trading partners, consuming ten percent of all exports, mainly tobacco and furs, and giving iron, hemp, and flax in return. At the time, Russia was considered to have the highest quality hemp in the world. The entire operation of growing, water-retting, breaking, and hackling hemp was exceedingly time consuming; preparing the fiber for making the highest quality rope or cloth required up to two years to complete. Russia was able to accomplish this only because the labor of the serfs was so cheap. John Quincy Adams, the sixth President, who had lived in Russia as a young man, wrote a report in 1810, On the Culture and Preparing of Hemp in Russia, describing the arduous process. The stalks were hung on racks for two days immediately after harvesting, then dried in a kiln, then laid to ret in a pond or stream, with weighted frames holding them underwater. After retting for three weeks in warm water, or five weeks in cold, the stalks were removed and dried for a fortnight or longer. They were then dried in a kiln again for a full day, and then placed on the racks again for the entire winter.119
Because most American hemp was produced by dew-retting, a vastly inferior process to the water-retting, the resulting product was essentially useless for marine purposes and was mainly used to make the cheap rope which bound cotton bales. Only the most desperate and foolhardy sailors would have left port relying on anything less than the highest quality water-retted sails and rigging.
The U.S.S. CONSTITUTION, “Old Ironsides,” a 44-gun frigate, offers a typical example of the fledgling navy’s need for hemp. She carried thousands of square feet of canvas (hemp cloth) sails and more than sixty tons of hemp rope rigging, including an anchor cable two feet in circumference (over 7″ diameter) and 720 feet long. The total length of her running rigging was more than four miles of hard-laid and soft-laid hemp .120
The next frontier for hemp in America was the blue grass country of Kentucky. Until the first hemp crop was planted there in 1775, the soil had been unfit for grain cultivation. One of hemp’s beneficial attributes for agriculture is its long taproot and its ability to break up virgin soil for subsequent crops. The Kentucky government was so impressed at the thriving hemp crop, that to increase local manufacture, it levied a tax, in 1792, of $20/ton on hemp imports, which by 1800 amounted to 3400 tons. Kentucky farmers produced about 6000 tons of fiber in 1810, and the state had 38 ropewalks in operation, but by 1840, imports of hemp had still risen to 5000 tons. By 1850 however, domestic production had increased enough to limit imports to 1500 tons.
Prior to the Civil War, Kentucky farmers employed three slaves for each fifty acres under cultivation, which produced about 37,500 pounds of hemp fiber. Each slave was required to produce a daily quota of about 100 lbs. and was paid one cent per pound for any amount over the quota. This “task system” allowed some slaves to buy their freedom by earning up to two dollars per day. In 1824, William Hayden, acknowledged to be the best rope-spinner in the country, bought his freedom working on a ropewalk under the same system.121
In 1841, Congress ordered the U.S. Navy to buy domestic hemp at every opportunity and, in 1843, appropriated $50,000 for such purchases. Purchasing agents went to Kentucky and Missouri to buy high-quality, water-retted hemp but, with typical bureaucratic obstructionism, required that samples be sent to Charleston Navy Yard in Massachusetts for inspection before any purchases were made, resulting in unreasonable delays and complaints of unfair bias. Very little hemp was ultimately procured from Kentucky under this regime. In 1842, the Kentucky General Assembly had appealed to the Congress to construct a hemp-retting facility as a national security measure, so in 1852, Congress had a state-of-the-art rope factory constructed at Memphis, but the project was abandoned after two years due to the lack of sufficient domestic hemp fiber from the southern states that were slated to supply it. Cotton was king.122
When the Civil War broke out, the U.S. Congress ordered the Commissioner of Agriculture to “make investigations to test the practicability of cultivating and preparing flax or hemp as a substitute for cotton.” Numerous patents were issued for improvements in machinery designed to harvest and process flax and hemp. G.F. Schaffer of New York patented the Cylinder Flax and Hemp Dresser in 1861, and the following year, G. Stanford and J.E. Mallory, also of New York, patented ten improvements for breaking, scutching, cleaning, and dressing hemp. Unfortunately for the hemp industry, and ultimately for the future of the South’s croplands, the boom in hemp subsided with the end of the war and cotton once again dominated Southern agriculture.123
Around the same time, boding ill for the future of America’s streams and woodlands, sulfate and sulfite processes for making paper from wood pulp were discovered, and hemp lost even more ground industrially. With slave labor at an end, and mechanical harvesters and preparation devices still in their primitive stages, the hemp industry languished, although there was a brief resurgence in cultivation in the 1870s and 1880s. During this period, hemp was widely grown in Illinois, Nebraska, and California. In New York, in 1882, a dozen manufacturers and merchants organized the American Flax and Hemp Spinners’ and Growers’ Organization, which was devoted to lobbying the government for protection for the beleaguered industry.124
By the turn of the century, on the seas, the increased use of wire cable, metal hulls, and steam power had severely reduced the demand for hemp-rope rigging, hemp caulking, and hemp-cloth sails, limiting the market to cordage, twine, and thread. Then came the invention of the mechanical decorticator and suddenly the doors to the hemp industry flew open again. In 1915, George W. Schlichten perfected and patented the machine that would change the industry and possibly the world. With easy access to the fiber and cellulose in hemp stalks, inventors raced to create new uses for the prolific plant. The machine eliminated the need for retting, the most time consuming step in hemp processing and, as described in Schlichten’s patent, produced a fiber that was “at once ready and suitable for carding or combing without any further treatment such as degumming or retting, and leaving the fiber soft, pliant, adhesive and in its unimpaired natural strength and color.” After 18 years in development and a $400,000 investment, Schlichten sold his first batch of fiber to a spinning mill owned by John D. Rockefeller for a record premium of $100 per ton. Wealthy industrialist Henry H. Timken, inventor of the roller bearing, was highly impressed by the new machine’s possibilities and offered Schlichten the use of 100 acres of his Imperial Valley, California ranch land to grow hemp. He also interested newspaper magnate Edward W. Scripps and his associate Milton McRae in the idea of making newsprint from hemp hurds, the pithy centers of the stalks.
By 1914, national daily newspaper circulation had increased to more than 28 million copies and the U.S. department of Agriculture published Bulletin No. 404 printed on hemp paper, “Hemp Hurds As Paper-Making Material,” which warned:
There appears to be little doubt that under the present system of forest use and consumption the present supply can not withstand the demands placed upon it. By the time improved methods of forestry have established an equilibrium between production and consumption, the price of wood pulp may be such that a knowledge of other available raw materials may be imperative.
The report determined that every tract of 10,000 acres that was devoted to hemp cultivation would, on a year-to-year basis, be equivalent to the sustained pulp-producing capacity of 40,500 acres of average pulp-wood lands. The hemp hurds also made a higher grade of paper than ordinary news stock.
Schlichten’s 1917 bumper hemp crop in the Imperial Valley was 14-16 feet tall and attracted the attention of major newsreel companies and the nation, but the intervention of World War I, high taxes, and other economic setbacks deterred Scripps, McRae, and Timken from further financing of the decorticator and it was not “rediscovered” until a decade or more later.125
Henry Ford, the quintessential American entrepreneur, envisioned a complete transformation of American industry from the hemp plant. Anything that could be made from oil could be made from hemp carbohydrates. By the 1930s, the Ford Motor Company was making charcoal fuel, creosote, ethyl acetate, methanol, and other compounds from hemp at its secret biomass conversion facility at Iron Mountain, Michigan. Ford saw a bright future of plastics made from hemp polymers, and energy from hemp biomass instead of hydrocarbons.126 In the December 1941 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, culminating twelve years of research, he unveiled his automobile “grown from the soil” – a plastic body made from 70% hemp, wheat straw, and sisal, with a 30% hemp resin binder on a tubular steel frame. The car weighed a third less than its steel counterparts, but demonstrated ten times the impact strength. Mechanical Engineering, in its February 1937 issue, advocated hemp as “the most profitable and desirable crop that can be grown,” and Popular Mechanics christened it “The Billion Dollar Crop.” However, in September of 1937, the doors to the future of the hemp industry slammed shut when the Federal prohibition on hemp took effect, effectively killing the industry.127
A conspiracy by three powerful men was responsible for the prohibition: William Randolph Hearst, owner of a major newspaper chain and vast timber holdings for paper manufacture; Lammot DuPont, president of the DuPont Company, which dominated the chemical and petrochemical markets; and Andrew Mellon, the richest man in America, owner of Gulf Oil and the Mellon National Bank of Pittsburgh, and Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, who lent DuPont the money to buy General Motors. Henry Ford’s experiments toward eliminating the need for hydrocarbon fuels and plastics, and the Schlichten decorticator’s ability to provide the means for economical, high-quality hemp paper and clothing, which would take the place of wood-pulp paper and synthetic clothing, were in direct opposition to the financial aspirations of the Hearst-DuPont-Mellon cabal; they stood to lose billions of dollars if the full commercial potential of the hemp plant was realized.
Unwilling to let the U.S. Constitution stand in their way, and mindful of the lesson of the unsuccessful direct prohibition on alcohol, the plotters opted for a more deceptive method of realizing their aims. During his term as Treasury Secretary, Mellon had created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, and placed his niece’s husband, Harry J. Anslinger, at its head. After several years of horror stories planted in the ubiquitous Hearst newspapers and Anslinger’s lobbying of state legislatures, the notion was established that a narcotic demon-weed called “marijuana” was destroying the morals of the nation, in particular those of children and minorities.
In 1937, the current Treasury Secretary contacted Robert Doughton, Chairman of the six-member House Ways and Means Committee, and Prentice Brown, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, both staunch DuPont allies, and urged them to act on HR 6385 – The Marijuana Tax Act. The House Ways and Means Committee was chosen as a vehicle for the action because it is the only committee that sends bills directly to the full House without debate in other committees. Xenophobia reigned supreme as Congress responded to Anslinger’s shamelessly blatant lies about the depredations of the Hearst-christened drug, “marijuana:” smoked by Mexicans and blacks before killing and raping sprees; the scourge of high-school children. With no debate, they nonchalantly passed The Marijuana Tax Act. Hemp was dead.128
When the Japanese conquered the Philippines at the beginning of World War II, America suddenly found itself in dire need of hemp again. Each battleship required 34,000 feet of rope. In addition, fire hose, parachute webbing and shoelaces for soldier’s boots had all been made from imported hemp, sisal, and jute. When it came to national defense, even the racists, the industrial giants, and their old-boy-politician minions had to step aside. The only fiber suitable that would grow in the temperate North American climate was hemp.
In its issue of 16 October 1942, Newsweek magazine informed the general public that the War Production Board had approved plans for planting 300,000 acres of hemp in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, and for building 71 processing mills in the same areas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture made a 14-minute instructional film entitled Hemp for Victory, and supplied seed to twenty thousand contracted farmers. Forty-two processing plants were built, costing $360,000 each. Even children were enlisted in the effort through local 4-H Clubs. By 1944 however, the War Production Board felt confident that European suppliers could meet U.S. needs, and again flip-flopped. Hemp, the patriotic crop, the wartime wonder-plant that would help America to victory, became again the demon-weed. Now, the propaganda said that it would induce lethargy in the populace and expose the country to the threat of communism. Hemp for Victory was deleted from official listings. The government denied its existence. U.S. history was officially rewritten – something that it is assumed happens only in non-democratic, totalitarian, or communist regimes. Ironically, hemp was dead again.129
In the last half-century, despite all the rhetoric and propaganda, the truth has trickled out. Mass movements are afoot to save the environment by again utilizing the plant that Washington and Jefferson believed in so strongly. Modern technology has overcome the backbreaking, time-consuming labor associated with hemp production in colonial days, and the means to realize the full potential of this wonder-plant are merely awaiting the political will to employ them. A new era dawns for hemp in America.
G. Cannabis Prohibition
Until the last two decades of the 19th century, there was very little government action to control the manufacture, distribution, or consumption of any psychoactive drug. Most of the legal restraints on drugs were state laws regulating pharmacies and restricting the distribution of poisons, which in some cases included opiates and other medicines. It was not the dependence problems arising from the unrestrained distribution of opiates within the medical system that caused the scrutiny of their habit-forming properties, but the “street use” which piqued legislative attention, particularly when such use was identified with poor racial minorities and other unsavory classes
The first drug legislation to criminalize the consumer for his indulgence was clearly directed at the user rather than the drug, as it was aimed at newly immigrated Chinese who smoked opium. Starting in 1875, with a San Francisco ordinance, twenty states, mostly Western, prohibited smoking opium and opium dens. The appellate judiciary, when called upon to test the constitutionality of such laws, recognized their ethnic purpose, stating in Ex parte Yung Jon, 28 F. 308 (D. Ore. 1886) at 312, “Smoking opium is not our vice, and therefore, it may be that this legislation proceeds more from a desire to vex and annoy the ‘Heathen Chinee’ in this respect, than to protect the people from the evil habit.”
By the early 20th century, morphine had replaced smoking opium as the “street drug” of choice. It and cocaine were identified with the underworld of the cities – prostitutes, pimps, gamblers and blacks. The public became aroused when law enforcement officials pointed to the drugs as being the cause of urban crime and created the image of the “dope fiend,” which took root in the public consciousness. By 1912, prescriptions were required for the distribution of cocaine in 44 states, of opiates in 33 states, and of chloral hydrate in 15 states.
In 1906, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, the first major federal drug legislation, which required the labeling of all preparations containing more than a stipulated amount of opiates. In 1909, the Act to Prohibit Importation and Use of Opium banned opium importation at any other than specified ports and for anything other than medicinal use. The main reason for the passage of this act was the desire to show the United States’ opposition to non-medical use of opiates prior to the Hague Convention of 1912. With Congress claiming a mandate under treaty obligations, the Harrison Act was passed in 1914 and became the foundation of federal law controlling narcotic drugs for the next fifty-six years. Meanwhile, state anti-narcotic legislation became a veritable crusade.130
The Harrison Act required registration and payment of an occupational tax by all persons who imported, produced, or distributed opium, coca leaves, or their derivatives, with the stated objective of regulating legitimate commerce, bringing it into observable and controllable channels. Every transaction, however, required enormous amounts of official paperwork, far more than usually necessary for the collection of excise and registration taxes, and possession of any drugs without the concomitant paperwork was presumptive evidence of violation of the act.
The real reason for this convoluted revenue mechanism to accomplish a clearly regulatory objective was that Congress was attempting to do indirectly what would be unconstitutional if done directly, to wit: regulation of the practice of medicine and the intrastate sale and possession of drugs. The power of Congress to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, and to raise revenue, was strictly limited; all power to regulate “local affairs had been reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment.” Hammer v. Dagenhart, 247 U.S. 251 (1918). And, as the Supreme Court noted in a case construing the act, “direct control of medical practice in the states is beyond the power of the Federal Government.” Linder v. United States, 268 U.S. 5, 18 (1925). Previously, the Court had decided, by a five-to-four margin, that Congress could regulate “incidentally,” only to facilitate its prime purpose – raising revenue. See United States v. Doremus, 249 U.S. 86 (1919). The four dissenters asserted that “the statute was a mere attempt by Congress to exert a power not delegated, that is, the reserved police power of the States.” Ibid. at 95. In contrast to the Harrison Act, a subsequent Congressional attempt to regulate child labor through the taxing power was invalidated in Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co., 259 U.S. 20 (1922).
By this time, the popular imagination completely associated “habit forming,” “narcotic” drugs with criminal behavior. A consensus emerged that the use of such drugs threatened to retard national growth by pauperism, moral degeneracy, and crime. The Prohibition Unit of the Treasury Department, which became responsible for narcotics enforcement in 1920, began to apply pressure to physicians to forsake the numerous addicts who had been on drug maintenance regimes, which resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy by creating a large underground market that often provoked criminal behavior due to inflated prices for illegal drugs.131
Since the federal government had neither the manpower nor the constitutional authority to fight street crime, the states responded to federal urging by enacting numerous statutes between 1914 and 1931 increasing criminal penalties for narcotics possession. The Supreme Court had noted in 1916 that any congressional attempt to criminalize possession of any article produced in a state, including opiates, would be unconstitutional. See United States v. Jin Fuey Moy, 241 U.S. 394, 401 (1916). Congress tried to circumvent this decision with the Narcotics Drugs Import and Export Act of 1922, which authorized the Federal Narcotics Control Board to determine how much opium, cocaine, and their derivatives were necessary for medical purposes, and set import quotas accordingly. Under Section 2(f) of the act, possession of any of these drugs without a prescription was presumptive evidence of illegal importation.132
The circle was now complete. What had formerly been viewed as an unfortunate illness with organic causes was now viewed as immoral and criminal. The medical profession had been intimidated and ousted from the addict’s life, whose entire lifestyle was now criminalized, since legitimate sources for his necessary drugs were no longer existent.
The temperance movement of this era was similar with its rhetoric of a highly moralistic tone – alcohol menaced the young and produced crime, pauperism, and insanity. Both prohibition movements started legislatively at the state level and later involved congressional action, but the similarity ended there. Alcohol prohibition, although nativistic, was never as widely accepted because the immigrant classes it was directed at were not outside the political process, whereas narcotics prohibition was aimed at the lifestyles of more insular minorities. Also, alcohol prohibition never made criminals of the consumers of the drug, while narcotics prohibition insinuated criminal law into every aspect of the user’s life.
Marihuana entered this hostile climate in the early years of the 20th century, but attracted little attention nationally until well into the 1930s. Prohibitionist policy began as a chiefly local matter emanating from the two main cannabis-entry points, Texas and New Orleans, from where it spread north and west, and north and east, respectively. The prohibition was directed at two main minority groups: blacks and Mexicans. American blacks had a tradition of cannabis use going back to slave times, when native Africans used “dagga” and brought the custom with them to the New World. Field hands would “break up and load their pipes with dried flowering tops of the plants and smoke them.” This practice provided a measure of relief from the harshness of slave life.133 In the first decades of the 20th century, almost any excuse by law enforcement authorities for the oppression of blacks was socially acceptable, and this rocky relationship is still strained in the present day.
Within the Mexican community in Texas, which held two-thirds of the Mexican immigrant population, marihuana was a cheaply-obtained casual adjunct to life – a relaxant, folk headache remedy, and mild euphoriant. Law enforcement authorities, however, characterized these people as “marihuana fiends” and lumped them with “Negroes, prostitutes, pimps and a criminal class of whites.” El Paso was the first locality to pass an ordinance banning the sale and possession of marihuana, in 1914. One police captain reported that “when they are addicted to the use, they become very violent … and will attack an officer even if a gun is drawn on him, they seem to have no fear … they have abnormal strength…” A captain of detectives concluded that marihuana produced “a lust for blood,” rendering the user “insensible to pain,” and capable of “superhuman strength.”134 Military authorities also became concerned that soldiers stationed along the border might indulge themselves and, consequently, use of marihuana was prohibited at Fort Sam Houston by order of the commanding general, in July 1921.135
Marihuana smoking in Texas was confined primarily to lower class Mexicans, just as it was in Mexico. The Mexican aristocracy, being more class-conscious than Americans, were even more lurid in their descriptions of the effects of the drug. One graduate of the National School of Medicine in Mexico City, Dr. Francisco de Ganseca, contended that for users of the drug “madness is the final result,” and that it was “worse than opium as it not only destroys the life of the person who smokes it, but causes him to take the lives of others.”136
Similar sentiments were expressed in many border towns of Texas and New Mexico. Law enforcement authorities, accepting the veracity of such tales, agitated for state or federal legislation to combat the “killer weed.” In 1915, with no investigation at all, a local Food and Drug inspector from El Paso persuaded the chief of the Bureau of Chemistry in the federal Agriculture Department, who had the primary enforcement responsibility under the Food and Drug Act, to take action. After an official request by the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Treasury issued a decision under the Food and Drug Act prohibiting the importation of cannabis for other than medical purposes. The Mexican immigrants continued to grow and smoke “Rosa Maria,” just as they had at home, and major pharmaceutical houses still imported large quantities, which they marketed through corner druggists in one-ounce packages, tinctures and extracts, all sold over the counter.137
There was still very little interest in state legislatures in controlling a drug that basically no one had heard about, until a new element was introduced to the equation. William Randolph Hearst, the owner of a large, highly influential, nationwide newspaper chain, whose biased reports on Cuba were credited with starting the Spanish American War in 1898, earning it the sobriquet “yellow press,” entered the fray. He was a virulently hard-line prohibitionist, regularly railing against cigarettes, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, dancing, popular music, and anything else he considered to be a social plague. He despised poor people and minorities – in particular blacks, Chinese, Hindus, and especially Mexicans. His hatred for Mexicans was aggrandized by the fact that Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary, had expropriated some 800,000 acres of prime, Hearst-owned timberland in the name of the peasants. The invention of the Schlichten decorticator and other hemp-processing machines, which raised the possibility of the cheap manufacture of tons of high-quality hemp hurds paper, directly threatened Hearst’s plans to deforest his vast U.S. timberlands in partnership with chemical magnate Lammot DuPont. The Hearst paper manufacturing division, Kimberly Clark (USA), was the major consumer of the DuPont company’s chemicals for making chemical-drenched, wood-pulp paper, which was of a particularly low quality, turning brittle yellow and falling apart in a short amount of time, while causing lasting environmental damage with its caustic manufacturing processes. Hearst put his columnists to work. With poetic vengeance, he picked up the little-known slang term for cannabis, taken from a drinking song sung by Pancho Villa’s soldiers after their 1913 victory at Torreon, and invented a crusade. Racist horror stories about “marihuana” began to appear nationwide.138
In 1919, Texas included marihuana in a general statute, modeled after the Harrison Act, prohibiting the transfer of certain narcotics except for medical purposes; however, the prohibition of personal possession or use was still deemed unconstitutional. New Mexico followed suit with a similar law in 1923, and included a ban on cultivation. There was little public attention to these proceedings, and they passed without debate. During the period from 1915-1930, practically every state west of the Mississippi passed similar legislation, in a similar fashion. Reference was always made to the drug’s Mexican origins, and to the criminal conduct that inevitably followed when Mexicans used the “killer weed.” As no one with any importance or power cared, there was no real outcry about any denial of personal rights. Ethnic prejudice carried the day.139
On the Eastern side of the country, matters progressed at a slower pace overall, with a few exceptions. Beginning in the 1800s, “hasheesh houses” by the hundreds had catered to the pleasure-seeking, wealthy sophisticates of New York and other major cities, but secrecy was the general rule. In the 1890s, several women’s temperance societies actually recommended the recreational use of hashish rather than alcohol, because they believed that liquor led to wife beating, while hash did not. In 1914, the New York state legislature passed its first comprehensive narcotics statute – the Boylan Bill (referred to by the Associated Physicians Economic League of New York as the “Towns-Hearst Bill” because of its strong support from grandstanding political lobbyist Charles Towns and the Hearst newspaper chain) – which regulated the sale and use of “habit-forming” drugs, but cannabis was not on the list. Although urged by prohibitionists like Hearst and his cohorts to include cannabis as a general rule when all the states were being pressed to implement the national policies declared in the Harrison Act, some physicians and pharmacists pointed out that cannabis was not a narcotic and was not, in fact, addictive and succeeded in excluding it from the New York legislation, just as they had from the original federal act. Around this same time, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island all barred the sale of cannabis without a prescription. A few months after the New York law was passed, the Board of Health of New York City amended its sanitary code by adding “Cannabis Indica” to the city’s list of prohibited drugs. None of this legislative activity was in response to any specific problem, it was just assumed that any potentially intoxicating substance had to be controlled once opiates and cocaine became more difficult to obtain, in order to eliminate the “drug habit evil.”140
Around this same time, a high-level conspiracy to violate the anti-trust laws had formed between Hearst, DuPont, and Andrew Mellon, a wealthy financier, utilizing the Hearst newspapers to continue to fan the flames of the temperance and anti-narcotics movements. The Mellon National Bank of Pittsburgh was the sixth largest bank in the United States when it financed an oil well in Spindletop, Texas that came a gusher in 1900. By 1913, Mellon had bought out his partners and had taken over the Gulf Oil Corporation, which opened the first drive-in gas station, in Pittsburgh, to serve the new automobile trade. Initially, petroleum had not been accepted because it was considered dirty and inferior to vegetable oils. When Rudolph Diesel had introduced his namesake engine in 1896, he had envisioned it being powered by a variety of fuels, but particularly vegetable and seed oils.141
Lammot DuPont’s DuPont Company was originally founded in 1802 by a French refugee friend of Thomas Jefferson, Eleuthere Irenee Du Pont de Nemours, as a gunpowder manufacturer. The company invented smokeless powder using cellulose, the same base material used for most of the other products they developed over the years, which eventually included paints, plastics, electrochemicals, photographic film, insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, cellophane, and synthetic fabrics such as nylon, rayon, and dacron. Initially, this cellulose was derived from vegetable matter such as hemp hurds, but in 1917, DuPont turned to fossil fuel for his source of cellulose, becoming a huge petrochemical conglomerate. The company supplied forty percent of the powder used in World War I by the Allied Forces.142
Mellon, DuPont and Hearst were natural allies. Mellon was reputed to be the richest man in the country, with political contacts at the highest levels and, with Hearst’s ability to inflame the masses through the press, the stage was set. Ethanol fuel was poised to compete with gasoline, the use of which had grown exponentially with the advent of the assembly-line automobile, when alcohol prohibition was declared in 1919; however, this victory was just the start for the cabal. In 1921, Mellon was sworn in as President Warren G. Harding’s Secretary of the Treasury, in spite of any seeming conflicts of interest. In short order, he pushed the Oil Depletion Allowance through Congress, which gave such huge tax rebates to Gulf Oil that a later Congressional investigation reported “gross unfairness.”143
The Teapot Dome scandal was major news in Harding’s administration, an enduring denouement easily the equal of any present-day malfeasance. During the ensuing Congressional investigation, it was revealed that Mellon had known all along about the illegal sale of public leases, as well as the bribery and secret campaign contributions of the 1920 Presidential election. He told the Senate that “neither then, nor during a Presidential Prosecutor’s investigations” had he felt any need to reveal this knowledge.144
In the 1920s, Mellon arranged for his bank to lend DuPont the money to buy General Motors. By then, Gulf Oil had gained control of the fuel market and the DuPont Company developed additives for gasoline and other petroleum fuels, including the lead which has proven so disastrous to human health. Turning a blind eye to the poisons generated by industrial hydrocarbons, and aware that Henry Ford was formulating fuels from the natural carbohydrates in hemp at his secret biomass conversion plant at Iron Mountain, Michigan, the plotters turned their sights to the full prohibition of hemp.145
In his capacity as Treasury Secretary to Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, Mellon publicly encouraged the “easy money” policies that profited speculators like himself and his cohorts, and that ultimately led to the 1929 stock market crash that bankrupted millions and started the Great Depression.146 President Hoover summarized Mellon’s formula for recovery:
Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmer, liquidate real estate….People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.
The plans of a true “Robber Baron.”147
Because hemp was an integral part of U.S. history and the economy, and because it was so easily and widely grown, federal authorities realized that the Supreme Court, having only narrowly upheld the Harrison Act (which masqueraded as a revenue-producing tax law) by a five-to-four margin, would not countenance any attempt to federally prohibit a native plant, which could not by any stretch of the imagination be presumed to have been illegally imported, and that any effort to include hemp in the Harrison Act might well result in the whole regulatory scheme being declared unconstitutional. For a number of years, they had no choice but to settle for enforcing the 1915 Treasury Decision under the 1906 Food and Drug Act, which stated that importations of cannabis “were being used for purposes other than in the preparation of medicine and that, unless used in medicinal preparations, this drug is believed to be injurious to health.” In practice, however, this simply meant that Mexicans who crossed the border with marihuana on their person were guilty of smuggling; it had no effect whatsoever on suppressing the looming industrial potential of the hemp plant.148
The Bureau of Prohibition, an arm of the Treasury Department, tried to promote international control of cannabis using the League of Nations, but the proposal was essentially rebuffed at the Second Geneva Opium Conference in 1925, so the prohibitionists took another tack and planned the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act. The drafting of this piece of comprehensive legislation took place away from public debate in order to eliminate any possible objections from industry. Prohibition of hemp cultivation was essential to any plans of the Mellon troika and, at this juncture, state legislation was considered to be the most workable approach.149
Hearst’s screaming headlines continued to drum the racist mantra of the “poisonous, mind-wrecking weed.” Columnist Winifred Black mourned the “new dope lure’s many victims” and cheered for Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, who she claimed “leads [the] way in crushing [the] dope evil: Italy jails smugglers and peddlers for life with no hope of pardon.” Black heaped praise on the fascists and fretted that America was moving “too late” in adopting their policies.150
The whole prohibition situation was becoming more complicated. Alcohol prohibition caused more people to turn to psychoactive drugs, which in turn led to pressure to end the alcohol prohibition. In 1927, the Bureau of Prohibition took over enforcement of the Harrison Act, which had previously been handled by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. A new character then entered the drama. Harry Jacob Anslinger, Mellon’s niece’s husband, had been in the U.S. Foreign Service in Europe after World War I, and had transferred to the U.S. Consulate in the Bahamas to persuade the British to put a halt to bootlegging alcohol from the West Indies. In 1926, he was made chief of the Prohibition Bureau’s Division of Foreign Control and, in 1929, was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Prohibition and Secretary to the Narcotics Control Board. He was the perfect tool for the dirty work ahead. He was a rabid hard-liner who sought to make purchasing alcohol for non medical purposes a crime punishable by a prison term of at least six months and a minimum $1000 fine (equivalent to at least $20, 000 in today’s money) for the first offense and imprisonment for two-to-five years and a $5,000-$50,000 fine for subsequent offenses. Mussolini would have been pleased.151
On 14 June 1930, Congress abolished the Federal Narcotics Control Board, which had been established by the Import and Export Act in 1922, and transferred its duties, along with the responsibilities of the narcotics division of the Bureau of Prohibition, to Mellon’s latest creation, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). Shunting aside the heir apparent for the top job in the new bureaucracy, L.G. Nutt, the former Deputy Commissioner of Prohibition, Mellon had his nephew-in-law appointed as Acting Commissioner in July, and made the custom-designed post permanent in August. Anslinger remained at the head of the FBN until removed by President Kennedy in 1962. Now, even though Mellon was replaced as Treasury Secretary in 1932, his influence on the course of prohibition continued unabated.152
The new commissioner’s first major project was to push through the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act. The American Medical Association had originally introduced the idea for uniformity in state narcotics laws to address its own concerns but, as with many ideas embraced by bureaucracy, it gained a life of its own. The bill went through several drafts, commencing in 1925, which were based on New York legislation, Washington State legislation, and the Harrison Act. Cannabis was included in the first two drafts, in the category of “habit-forming drugs,” prohibited except for medical purposes. In the third draft, however, it was removed due to objections from the medical profession and left to the discretion of the individual states to include or not. Anslinger was adamant about including cannabis, but his objections were overridden in the final draft, despite his resorting to a spate of Hearst’s sensationalistic stories in an attempt to “poison the well.”153
At this point, spokesmen for the domestic hemp industry also joined the fray. A report of the U.S. Public Health Service, dated 10 July 1932, noted a total of 28,000 acres of Indian hemp under cultivation in the U.S. In the final draft, the cannabis provision remained supplemental to the Act, wherein any state wishing to regulate its sale and possession was instructed to merely add it to the definition of “narcotic drugs,” which would make it subject to the same provisions as the opiates and cocaine. The FBN actually agreed that this method would make it easier to add other drugs in the future. The unsettling feature of this approach was the impossibility of distinguishing between cannabis and narcotics in the penalty structure of the Act. This technical modification made marihuana a narcotic by definition in every state that passed the Act. By 1933, there were only fourteen states, mostly in the Southeast, which still had no laws at all barring non-medical use of cannabis, but despite all the FBN efforts, the Uniform Act did not do well. As late as March 1935, only ten states had enacted it in full. Hearst kept up the pressure, publishing editorials and cartoons, along with his manufactured “news” reports. Most people in the country still made no connection between hemp and the “killer weed,” marihuana.154
In 1933, serious changes occurred. Hoover’s administration had given way to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s and, at the end of the year, alcohol prohibition was repealed. Deep in the throes of the Great Depression, Congress had begun to examine the costs of all the federal agencies. Anslinger started to fear for the very existence of his FBN and its three hundred agents. The FBN’s budget had been cut by $200,000 – a considerable sum of money for the times – and Anslinger had been forced to significantly reduce the number of agents on his payroll. When the idea of a prohibitive-tax regulatory scheme for cannabis was first proposed, he had thought it absurd, but after assessing the Bureau’s future prospects, he had quickly come on board.155
In 1935, the Treasury Department’s general counsel, Herman Oliphant, was put to work in secret to draft a bill that would get past both the Congress and the Supreme Court. Anslinger knew that Congress had no real interest in the matter, and that he would be able to control the information they received by working through the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives and the Finance Committee in the Senate. The House committee was chaired by an ally of Lammot DuPont, Robert Doughton of North Carolina, and the Senate committee was chaired by another, Prentice Brown of Michigan. Anslinger also wanted to go through the Ways and Means Committee because it is the only committee that sends bills directly to the House floor without debate from other committees. Anslinger and Hearst started to compile a “gore” file in preparation for the future presentation of their prohibition bill.156
Oliphant, searching for a suitable constitutional basis for a bill, used the Harrison Act and the as-yet-untested National Firearms Act as models for his draft. However, he confided in a report to Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Gibbons in 1936, that “under the taxing power and regulation of interstate commerce it would be almost hopeless to expect any kind of adequate control.” He suggested that an international treaty might be a preferred approach to control the alleged problem. Anslinger and Stuart Fuller of the State Department presented the idea of a treaty to control cannabis at the Conference for the Suppression of Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs, held in Geneva in 1936, but the other twenty-six nations at the conference rejected the plan. Oliphant continued his labors, in preparation to present the bill to Congress. He and Anslinger also gathered what little scientific and medical information they could find which concurred with their bias, but did not trouble themselves with any educated opinions. Treasury attorney S.G. Tipton asked Anslinger for “horror stories.”157
The National Firearms Act, passed in June 1934, was Congress’ first attempt to prohibit activity by using a tax structure to hide the true motive. The Firearms Act was designed to prohibit traffic in machine guns: Congress “permitted” anyone to buy a machine gun, but required the payment of a transfer tax of $200 and an order form to be filled out registering the purchase. In today’s terms, the tax was the equivalent of approximately $4000.
The Marihuana Tax Act, as it was named, called for an “occupational excise tax on dealers and a transfer tax on dealings in marihuana.” Importers, manufacturers, and distributors had to register with the Treasury Department and pay the special occupational tax. All transfers had to be accomplished through the use of written order forms and all transfers had to be paid for at a rate of $5/oz. for registered persons and $100/oz. for unregistered persons. At the time, an ounce of cannabis sold for $1/oz. in a pharmacy. On 29 March 1937, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the National Firearms Act and two weeks later, on 14 April 1937, Oliphant, who had been waiting for the decision, unveiled the Treasury Department’s “administrative proposal,” H.R. 6385, to stamp out marihuana.158
The legal reality of the marihuana issue was obviously of significantly more interest to the Anslinger bureaucracy and his allies in Congress than the scientific and social realities of cannabis use, ergo the need to take action forbidden under prevailing constitutional doctrine. The Treasury Department had never publicized the fact that it was preparing a bill, consequently, in the face of the onslaught of Hearst-inspired horror stories, cannabis bills were introduced in both houses at the opening of the first session of the 75th Congress, in January 1937. The Hatch Bill to prohibit the shipment and transportation of cannabis in interstate and foreign commerce was reintroduced to the Senate and the Fish Bill to prohibit importation was resubmitted in the House. A little later in the session, Congressman Hennings of Missouri introduced another bill that was undoubtedly well beyond congressional power at that time. His bill would have prohibited the sale, possession, and transportation of cannabis, except in compliance with regulations to be made by the Commissioner of the FBN, very similar in fact to the law that exists today.159
Meanwhile, the DuPont Company knew whose hand was on the tiller. The 1937 DuPont Company Annual Report was in tune with the gloom of the Depression times; it warned: “The future is clouded with uncertainties …. Funds for the development of new industries or for the expansion of established lines must be provided out of savings.” The report went on, however, to recommend continued investment in its new, but not-yet-fully-accepted, petrochemical synthetics and anticipated “radical changes” from “the revenue-raising power of government … converted into an instrument for forcing acceptance of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reorganization.”160 (Emphasis added).
Testimony before the six-member Ways and Means Committee consisted almost entirely of Anslinger reading aloud racist articles from his “gore files,” all of which were later proven false. He stated matter-of-factly that about 50% of all violent crimes committed in the United States were perpetrated by Negroes, Mexican Americans, Latin Americans, Filipinos, Spaniards, and Greeks, and that the crimes were directly traceable to marihuana. Dr. William Woodward of the American Medical Association tried to get a word in edgewise, decrying the two-year secret preparation of the bill, saying that only two days previously had the AMA realized that the marihuana drug being referred to was actually cannabis, a benign medical substance, which had been used safely in America for over a hundred years. Woodward and the AMA were denounced by the committee and Anslinger, and he was curtly excused. The National Seed Oil Institute, representing high-quality, machine lubrication producers and paint manufacturers, sent their general counsel, Ralph Loziers, who testified eloquently about the lack of psychoactive substance in the seed and its utility through the ages, and the crushing of a growing industry which had imported 58,000 tons of seed in 1935. He too was ignored in favor of tales of marihuana -crazed Negroes raping white women.161
The Public Health Service was not invited to testify, since its Division of Mental Hygiene (now the National Institute of Mental Health) had refuted Anslinger’s claims several months earlier, stating that: “marihuana is habit-forming, although not addictive in the same sense as alcohol might be with some people, or sugar or coffee.” The only medical testimony offered by Anslinger came from a Temple University pharmacologist, Dr. James Munch, whose experience was confined to limited experimentation with the effects of cannabis on dogs. He stated that although only about one dog in three hundred was affected by his test, continuous use of cannabis caused degeneration of the brain.162
On 14 June 1937, the bill came to the House floor. Four Congressmen asked for an explanation of the bill’s provisions and were treated to a reiteration of the “gore files.” After less than two pages of debate, the measure was passed without a roll call. The result was no different in the Senate Finance Committee hearing two months later. Only three members bothered to attend. Anslinger read more stories from the “gore file” and two witnesses appeared from the hemp industry to complain about the $5/oz. transfer fee on legitimate hemp producers, asking that it be lowered to $1/oz. for the sake of the small farmers. The committee adopted this suggestion, but having already made its decision, ignored all other pleas for common sense. A few days later, the House approved all the minor suggestions of the Senate committee and Ways and Means Committee member Representative Fred Vinson of Kentucky (later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), when questioned about AMA support for the bill, lied outright to the full House, saying that Dr. Woodward (Vinson actually called him Wharton) “not only gave this measure his full support, but also the approval from the American Medical Association.”163
The Marihuana Tax Act, tied neither to scientific study nor enforcement need, passed Congress with little debate and was sent to President Roosevelt, who signed it on 2 August 1937. It had taken less than four months to ram the bill through. A Virginia Law Review analysis of the hearings described them as a “near comic example of dereliction of legislative responsibility” and “a case study in legislative carelessness,” concluding that Congress had been “hoodwinked.”164
Anslinger vowed that, although the law allowed any citizen to acquire a valid license by paying the special excise tax, the Treasury Department would simply refuse to issue any permits. Thus the passage of the Act meant that the entire hemp industry was now firmly in the iron grip of the Treasury Department bureaucracy and the special interest industries influencing it, primarily DuPont and Hearst with the petrochemical and timber industries, then later the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, and most recently, the drug testing and prison industries. Of course, to enforce this new law, the prohibition police forces increased exponentially. For example, in 1937, New York State had one narcotics officer, whereas now it has a network of thousands of officers, agents, spies, and paid informants, as well as twenty times the penal capacity.165
When the bill became law in September 1937, the DuPont Corporation wasted no time. In 1937, it filed patents on processes to make plastics from oil and coal, a patent on nylon, and patents on new sulfate/sulfite processes for papermaking from wood pulp, which accounted for more than 80% of all its business for the next fifty years. In addition, more than half the American cars on the road between 1922 and 1984 were built by General Motors, which guaranteed DuPont a captive market for paints, varnishes, plastics, and synthetic fabrics, etc. All of these GM automobiles were designed to run on tetra-ethyl leaded fuel containing the DuPont additives. It made no difference that Henry Ford built his hemp-mobile and secretly grew fields of hemp in his attempt to become independent of the petroleum industry; under the federal ban, he could not keep it up. Hearst, DuPont and Mellon had triumphed, over Ford, the American people, and the environment, which would never recover.166
Lammot DuPont had the shameless temerity to say in a 1939 Popular Mechanics article, soon after it published its glowing report on hemp, “The Billion Dollar Crop,” that his work was “conserving natural resources.” He painted the picture of a dreamy, petrochemical world and noted that for industry to create this artificial paradise:
supplies of raw materials must be assured; outlets determined; and the product introduced to the public…Synthetic plastics find application in fabricating a wide variety of articles, many of which in the past were made from natural products …. Most of us are aware that the chemist has produced new products and has improved existing products …. Consider our natural resources. The chemist has aided in conserving natural resources by developing synthetic products to supplement or wholly replace natural products…[the] American chemical industry and industries based on chemistry have become so important that they employ one-fifth of all factory workers and one-fourth of all industrial capital investments …. underlying such giant industries as … petroleum refining and pulp and papermaking…167
The way that cannabis was prohibited left law enforcement officials in a bit of a quandary. If, as Anslinger had asserted in his prohibitionist propaganda, one marijuana cigarette was sufficient to deprive the user of all reason or restraint, a perpetrator of the sort of heinous crime described in the “gore files” could not very well be held accountable for his actions. Defense attorneys were particularly enamored of Anslinger’s infamous “Assassin of Youth” article, which had appeared in American Magazine in July 1937, describing the grisly but imaginary suicide of a young girl. Anslinger accordingly reversed course and began to discourage the yellow journalism he had previously abetted. He now accepted Dr. Woodward’s previous view that sensational news reports had stimulated impressionable youth to try the drug and he attempted to dissuade Dr. Munch, who was in great demand as an expert witness on insanity defenses, from giving further testimony.
He called for severe sentences for cannabis offenders and proposed a conference to educate federal judges on the importance of assessing heavy penalties to control the marijuana trade. Of course, as usual, most of the arrests made were for personal possession and use. Anslinger quickly realized that eradication of the plant throughout the countryside would be quite impossible, as it grew wild and plentifully, undetected, nationwide, although he did manage to put a WPA crew to work uprooting several miles worth of hemp plants along the Potomac River outside the nation’s capital, which he later described in his 1961 autobiography, The Murderers.168
From 1938-1944, a research study was commissioned by New York Mayor Fiorella La Guardia, to be done by doctors from the New York Academy of Medicine. After the results of the study had totally refuted all of Anslinger’s lies, demonstrating that cannabis did not cause violence and was in fact rather harmless, Anslinger was enraged. In public tirade after tirade, he denounced the Mayor, the Academy, and the doctors who had worked on the report. He proclaimed that he would jail any doctor who did research in the future without his personal permission. He had previously blackmailed the AMA into denouncing the research by making a Faustian bargain with them not to prosecute any doctors for illegal prescriptions (the FBN had prosecuted more than 3000 doctors for this prior to 1939, whereas only 3 doctors were prosecuted between 1939 and 1949). The AMA, at Anslinger’s personal request, then conducted a 1944-1945 counter-study, showing that 34 Negro GIs (and one white GI for statistical “control”) who smoked marijuana became disrespectful of their officers in the segregated military and were prone to “explosive aggression” and self -mutilation.169
In 1938, FBN Supervisor Joseph Bell stated in a newspaper interview that: “Present day swing music, the Big Apple dance, and orchestra jam sessions are responsible for increasing the use of marijuana, both by dance band musicians and by the boys and girls who patronize them.” He continued, “the tempo of present day music [seems] to do something to the nerves. The boys and girls… seem to think they need a stimulant for their nerves.” Between 1943 and 1948, Anslinger’s FBN maintained extensive surveillance and files on many musicians, singers, actors, and comedians who were suspected of involvement with cannabis, including such greats as: Louis Armstrong; Count Basie; Milton Berle; Les Brown; Cab Calloway; Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey; Duke Ellington; Dizzy Gillespie; Jackie Gleason; Lionel Hampton; Andre Kostelanetz; Gene Krupa; Robert Mitchum; Theolonius Monk; Buddy Rich; Kate Smith; and Sarah Vaughn. The FBN also investigated the Coca-Cola program and the entire NBC orchestra. Anslinger had intended to stage a nationwide, synchronized roundup of all his suspects, but fortunately for American culture, his superior in the Treasury Department, Under Secretary Foley, cancelled the plan. Undeterred, in 1951, Anslinger proposed that the State Department cancel the passports of any musicians who had been involved in any court proceedings relating to marijuana, ostensibly to avoid the national embarrassment of American musicians spreading their smoking habits in addition to their suspect musical tastes. Again, the Under Secretary rejected the scheme as being too vague and the allegations as not sufficiently supportable to merit communicating to the State Department.170
Only a few years after being prohibited, hemp made a strong but short-lived comeback after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, dragging the U.S. into World War II. They captured the Philippines, the United States’ main source of plant fibers. The DuPont Corporation’s man-made fibers were inadequate for military needs: rope for naval vessels; fire hoses; parachute harnesses; and even shoelaces for GI boots were all made from dependable, natural hemp. Hemp-seed oil also provided superior lubrication for some airplane engine parts. Since the dream world of better-living-through-chemistry couldn’t compare in quality with nature, the bureaucratic ship of state suddenly changed course again.
Hemp for Victory, a 14-minute film, was made in 1942 by the Department of Agriculture to explain to the American people why the war effort needed this prohibited plant. Farmers were required to attend showings of the film in farm houses and Grange Halls across the country, and then sign a register certifying that they had seen it and read a hemp cultivation booklet, Hemp: A War Crop. From 1942 through 1945, any farmer who agreed to grow hemp was exempted from military duty along with any of his sons. The War Hemp Industries Corporation set a goal of 350,000 acres under hemp cultivation by 1943. Children in 4-H Clubs were enlisted to grow what had a mere four years earlier been the “Assassin of Youth.” In Kentucky, the youngsters were urged to grow at least a half-acre, but preferably two acres of hemp each.
Hemp seed was supplied to twenty thousand contracted farmers, harvesting machinery was made available at low or no cost, and tax stamps, which Anslinger had sworn never to issue, were made obtainable. Forty-two processing mills were built and equipped, costing about $360,000 apiece and each employing about a hundred workers. Any product that was not consumed by the war effort found its way into civilian use as thread for shoes and harnesses, fishnets, carpet warps, and packing for pumps and ships’ seams. By the war’s end, nearly a million acres of “marijuana” had been grown to support the troops.
Hemp production also greatly increased in Europe. On the Axis side, Germany was racing to produce more hemp for food as well as industry. By 1944, the War Production Board felt confident that European suppliers could satisfy U.S. requirements and abruptly scaled down U.S. production, although it was not totally phased out again until 1957. Later, the FBN attempted to obliterate all references to wartime hemp production in official archives, including the destruction of copies of Hemp for Victory. Fortunately for the truth, however, these bureaucrats were not entirely successful in their Soviet-style effort to rewrite U.S. history. Copies of the documents and the film were ferreted out by dedicated anti-prohibition activists in the 1980s, although one can only wonder what other portions of American history may have been deleted or rewritten by servants of totalitarian interests.171
In 1942, Anslinger was appointed to a top-secret committee to create a “truth serum” for the OSS, which later evolved into the CIA. Anslinger and his spy group picked “honey oil,” a pure, almost tasteless form of hash oil, to be administered in food to spies, saboteurs, or military prisoners to compel them to tell the truth. Fifteen months later, that particular trial was discontinued due to lack of success. People being interrogated would giggle or laugh hysterically at their captors, get paranoid, or have insatiable desires for food (the munchies?). The report on this experiment, released in 1983, under the Freedom of Information Act, also noted that the American OSS agents and other interrogation groups were using the honey oil themselves rather than giving it to the spies. No mention was made in the report about any violence caused by the drug.172
Anslinger’s next move in his personal cannabis-prohibition imbroglio/fiasco was to testify before a strongly anti-Communist Congress in 1948, and later to the press, that Communists were planning to use marijuana to weaken the American armed forces’ will to fight, because the drug would cause its users to become peaceful and pacifistic. No one seemed to notice the 180-degree spin from his earlier ravings about marijuana causing violence, bloodshed and ultimate insanity. When the Russians and the Chinese ridiculed this paranoia in the press and at the United Nations, Congress became more convinced of the “plot” than ever and quickly voted to continue the cannabis prohibition, now based on the exact opposite reasoning from that used to outlaw it in the first place. In a comically self-fulfilling prophecy, the notion got so much play in the world press that Russia, China, and the Eastern Bloc countries, after having grown and ingested cannabis as a medication, relaxant, and work tonic for hundreds or thousands of years, became alarmed enough to outlaw the drug themselves for fear that America would use it to turn the Red Army and the PLA into pacifists.173
As interested as Anslinger was in jailing the consumers of drugs, first alcohol and later cannabis and other substances, he had no qualms whatever about supplying his “Red-baiting” friend, Senator Joseph McCarthy, for years with copious amounts of morphine to feed McCarthy’s opiate habit. In his autobiography, The Murderers, Anslinger claimed that this illegal drug distribution was done to prevent Communists from being able to blackmail the “Great American Senator” for his unfortunate drug-dependency weakness.174
Around 1950, there was a reported increase in opiate use in the U.S. Anslinger asserted a new theory, one that he had specifically discounted in 1937 – marijuana was a gateway or stepping-stone which inevitably led to harder drugs, a myth which persists today. This new drug-menace hysteria paralleled the “Communist menace” hysteria, and in some news reports, merged with it. Bills were introduced in Congress calling for the death penalty or minimum sentences of 100 years for drug distribution, the Eighth Amendment’s sanction against cruel and unusual punishment seemingly forgotten. In 1951, with the Boggs Act and again in 1956, with the Narcotic Control Act, Congress substantially increased the penalties for all drug violators and, for the first time in federal legislation, lumped marijuana and narcotic drugs together. The Narcotic Control Act introduced mandatory minimum sentences of 5 years for a first offense and 10 years for subsequent offenses for drug sales. Most of the states followed the federal lead. In a curious lapse of memory, Congress made possession of marijuana a presumption of smuggling and, although the Supreme Court after the New Deal was a mere shadow of its original Constitution-protecting concept, it ultimately declared this provision irrational and invalid. Unfortunately for American freedom, the rest of the new law remained intact.175
Anslinger stayed in office long enough to put one more nail into the coffin of the hemp industry, thereby handing a new long-term lease on life to the environmental-vampire DuPont Corporation. Although marijuana seizures were at an all-time low by 1960, Anslinger helped to design and push through the United Nations’ Single Convention Treaty on Narcotic Drugs in 1961. This international treaty was ratified by Congress in 1967, and it and its corollaries are invariably cited today as the primary obligatory reason why the U.S. cannot correct the mistakes of the past, end the hemp prohibition, free the thousands of prisoners unjustly incarcerated because of it, and start to heal the industrial destruction of our land, air, and waterways. Anslinger was fired by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. In 1963, the President’s Advisory Commission on Narcotics and Drug Abuse said after studying the evidence:
This Commission makes a flat distinction between the two drugs (cannabis and heroin) and believes that the unlawful sale or possession of marijuana is a less serious offense than…of an opiate.
Many people believe that Kennedy planned to re-legalize hemp after the 1964 election, based on this advice and his own personal experience using cannabis for his chronic back pain. Any such plan was unfortunately terminated with his November 1963 assassination.
Ironically, Harry J. Anslinger, the greatest marijuana prohibitionist of all, acknowledged that hemp was “the finest fiber known to mankind. My God! If you ever have a shirt made of it, your grandchildren would never wear it out!” He also admitted that:
Prohibition, conceived as a moral attempt to improve the American way of life, would ultimately cast the nation into turmoil. One cannot help but think in retrospect that prohibition, by depriving Americans of their “vices,” only created the avenues through which organized crime got its firm foothold.176
The cannabis tradition was kept alive in the 1950s and early 1960s by the “Beat Generation,” as described by poet Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac in his classic, On the Road, but the latent social consensus which had supported the marihuana prohibition for fifty years, buttressed by xenophobia and the essential premise that there was no use without abuse, exploded in the mid-sixties; its supports evaporated completely. By 1967, both in America and in Europe, use of the drug was associated in the public mind with university life, instead of the urban criminal element it had been previously. This new class of user had direct access to the political and public opinion processes because it was drawn from the middle and upper socio-economic brackets. Professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert at Harvard University and others in academia preached consciousness expansion, and hippie “flower children” sprouted across the globe with a message of peace and love, with cannabis as their ambassador of good will. Vietnam veterans brought bags of the herb back from the war and shared it with peace movement activists. Soon, the cannabis-smoking population numbered in the millions.
Around the same time, as the workweek had shortened, a new leisure ethic emerged and, as sophisticated technology continually expanded society’s control over the individual, people began to insist on a wall around their private lives. The courts responded by proscribing official snooping and by invalidating laws which interfered with familial decision making – abortion, contraception, miscegenation – and with private sexual conduct. Marihuana prohibition encountered its first real public debate and cannabis reform was winning. Law enforcement countered by shifting the focus from public safety to public health. Psychological dependence, amotivation, alienation and the stepping-stone/gateway theories, with a view of the marihuana user as a troubled, emotionally unstable individual, became the new official prohibitionist doctrine.177
In 1970, the Harrison Act and the Marijuana Tax Act were repealed in favor of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a comprehensive statute that used the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, albeit with slightly twisted logic, to grant authority to prohibit cannabis. According to the argument, because much of the cannabis in any particular state may have come from another state or another country, and because the difference between “foreign” cannabis and cannabis produced intrastate was not detectable, under the constitutional authority to regulate foreign and interstate commerce, Congress had the power to prohibit all cannabis, regardless of origin.
The CSA set up a system of five Schedules wherein controlled drugs would be ranked according to their relative degrees of usefulness and dangerousness. Schedule I contained drugs with a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision. Schedule II drugs also presented a high potential for abuse, but had a currently accepted medical use, and posed a probability that abuse would lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Schedule III drugs had a lower potential for abuse than those in Schedules I or II, together with currently accepted medical use, and a moderate or low risk of physical dependence, or a high risk of psychological dependence if abused. Schedule IV drugs had a lower potential for abuse relative to Schedule III, accepted medical use, and a low risk of physical or psychological dependence relative to Schedule III drugs. Schedule V drugs had a lower potential for abuse than those in Schedule IV, accepted medical use, and a limited risk of dependence relative to Schedule IV drugs.
Incredibly, by way of comparison: Schedule I drugs included heroin, LSD, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin and marijuana (supposedly included temporarily until the results of the Shafer Commission study were determined); Schedule II drugs included cocaine and morphine; Schedule III included amphetamine; Schedule IV included chloral hydrate and barbiturates; and Schedule V included small doses of codeine, as in cough syrup. Tobacco products and alcohol were exempted completely from the CSA. By the year 2000, there were very few people ill-informed enough to believe that marijuana is more dangerous than codeine, which in sufficient quantity can still cause death, let alone chloral hydrate or barbiturates, yet the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which was formed to replace the FBN, has obdurately refused to reschedule it.178
In 1972, Richard Nixon vowed to ignore any positive recommendations about cannabis from his handpicked Shafer Commission and to maintain the federal prohibition, but the publication of the Commission’s report unleashed an army of reformers on the state legislatures. Many states reduced penalties for possession or personal use to misdemeanor status or less, but the political obstacles to meaningful change were still formidable. Ann Arbor, Michigan was an exception: the city council enacted an ordinance setting a $5 fine for use, possession or sale of marihuana. Several judges in Illinois, Michigan, and Hawaii concluded that the marihuana possession penalty was unconstitutional. In 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court legalized cannabis for personal use.179 Meanwhile, in Holland, cannabis and hashish, labeled “soft drugs,” were being sold openly in coffee shops throughout the nation.
In September 1975, the Ford administration’s Domestic Council Task Force released a White Paper on Drug Abuse which concluded that marijuana presented no serious potential for harm, either to individuals or to society, and recommended that federal efforts be concentrated on hard drugs. It stopped short, however, of recommending the withdrawal of cannabis from the Single Convention Treaty, or further reducing penalties as the Shafer Commission report had done in 1972. On a disturbing note for the environment, public health, and foreign relations, it endorsed the spraying of Mexican cannabis fields with paraquat, a deadly poison to humans as well as plants. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter called for an end to penalizing cannabis use, saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.” The American Bar Association, the AMA, the American Council of Churches, and other mainstream organizations joined the call for decriminalization.180
The scaremongers claimed that decriminalization would open the floodgates to abuse, in spite of all the information to the contrary from sources like Holland, which showed cannabis use remaining constant after de facto legalization. At the end of the decade, the Addiction Research Foundation reviewed all the studies on decriminalization, including a national study which reported that cannabis use rose and fell without any apparent relation to the severity of the law, and determined:
Decriminalization of marijuana does not appear to have had a major impact on the rates of use, as many people feared it might …. [It] would appear that decriminalization measures have succeeded in reducing the costs without substantially increasing the health and safety hazards.
A 1980 Gallup Poll found that 53% of Americans favored re-legalization of small amounts of cannabis. Most people thought that cannabis reform had won; however, it was really the zenith of the anti-prohibition movement.181
The same industries which had played such a large role in the original hemp prohibition – oil, petrochemicals, and paper – were still adamantly opposed to the rebirth of the hemp industry and were now joined by the giant pharmaceutical corporations, which had previously championed cannabis. The profits on patentable drugs were just too great to allow inexpensive, effective, and unpatentable cannabis, which at the turn of the 20th century had been the most widely-used analgesic, and was now extremely useful in a myriad of other areas, including as a cancer-chemotherapy anti-emetic and as anti-glaucoma medicine, to be re-legalized. The deep pockets of these industries wielded formidable power in the money-hungry halls of Congress and the Executive branch. The government took the position that no change in the law was necessary unless marijuana could be proven absolutely harmless, an obvious impossibility. Since the law was already on the books, regardless of how it got there or its irrationality, it carried weight of its own and officials felt little affirmative need to justify it.
Even before the Reagan/Bush prohibition machine took power in 1981, a backlash on reform had begun. In a brief cluster, several negative reports on cannabis burst onto the scene. Although all were subsequently disproven, they still served to help reverse the worldwide momentum to re-legalize cannabis. At the root of many of these reports were former OSS operatives Lyndon LaRouche and Gabriel Nahas, both of whom were working at Columbia University, which is well known for its CIA connections. These men participated in covering up the Nazi war crimes of Austrian politician Kurt Waldheim, and gained considerable political leverage from Waldheim’s rise to the post of Secretary General of the United Nations.
Despite a professional scandal worthy of the Hearst/Anslinger “gore files,” and a lack of qualifications, anesthesiologist Nahas was put in charge of all United Nations grant money for cannabis research and in 1971, was appointed to its Narcotic Control Board. Nahas handed out international grants to selected colleagues for “new studies proving the harmfulness of cannabis.” These included Robert Heath’s infamous 1974 “Monkey Brain” study – a textbook case of laboratory fraud – where researchers suffocated monkeys with an amount of cannabis smoke equivalent to 90 joints/day for six months, pumped in through gas masks for five minutes at a time with no air. The predictable, resultant brain damage from oxygen deprivation and carbon monoxide poisoning was then blamed on cannabis. None of these studies could stand up to peer review, yet they are still cited today by the DEA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and others to polarize ignorant judges, politicians, parent groups and the press.182
The CIA was also deeply involved in secret research on cannabis, and had classified all the results, in addition to classifying a mountain of clinical and scientific data on the use of cannabis preparations which had been published prior to the enactment of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. While receiving unrestricted support for their research, they blocked any public research on the drug for many years. Nahas paraded a group of pseudo-experts, primarily CIA operatives, before the 1974 Senate Internal Security Subcommittee Hearings, which were chaired by Senator John Eastland, convened in response to the positive reports on cannabis in the Shafer Commission study.183
When former CIA agent Thomas Pauken became head of the government agency ACTION in 1981, he took money from community self-help programs to fund anti-cannabis groups like Families in Action, the American Council for Drug Education, and the Parent’s Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE). These groups provided support for the notorious Peggy Mann who compiled a manual of the discredited studies, Marijuana Alert, which became the new Mein Kampf of cannabis prohibition, on a par with Reefer Madness. Trumpeting the studies once again as “new evidence,” the screed featured a foreword by “Just Say No” Nancy Reagan, who claimed that Marijuana Alert was a true story. CIA propagandist Nahas authored his own pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo books, including Keep Off the Grass, but both Columbia University and the National Institute of Health publicly denounced his findings. In 1983, Nahas himself renounced much of his own research in order to avoid a funding cutoff by the NIDA and the mockery of his peers. PRIDE, however, continues to promote Nahas as an internationally known pharmacologist and educator on the subject of addictive drugs and, as recently as 1992, Nahas launched a prohibition assault against a moderating Europe with the establishment of a group called EurAD (Europe Against Drugs).184
During the twelve years of the Reagan/Bush era, the abolition-of-the-cannabis-prohibition forces in the U.S. lost all the ground that had been gained in the 1970s, and more. A virtual witchhunt began returning the country to the Stone Age of repression. In 1984, Congress authorized the seizure of private property without charging the owner with any crime. While this has been a veritable gold mine for law enforcement agencies, it has been a nightmare for victims of civil rights abuses. The DEA contends that since 80% of the people whose property is confiscated do not contest the action, it “proves” that the assets must have been the fruit of criminal activity. In fact, no criminal charges are filed in more than half of all federal forfeiture cases, indicating that a more probable reason for not contesting the seizure is the expense and difficulty of recovering the property from the government. Automobiles are a particular target of these property grabs and are frequently sold back to the owners, a sort of legal “shake down.”185
The drug laws have also created a large industry of “confidential informants” that manufacture crime and lie for personal gain. These hired informants commit crimes with impunity, knowing that their police handlers will protect them from repercussions. A prime example is that of Sammy “The Bull” Gravano who, after confessing to 19 murders, was rewarded by the FBI with a new identity, an illegal book contract worth $250,000, a house, a construction business, and a restaurant for his wife in return for testimony against his one-time associate, mob boss John Gotti. Gravano was arrested again five years later for masterminding a huge Ecstasy distribution ring in his new home state, Arizona. Sometimes police officers fabricate informants to obtain search warrants, knowing that judges almost never demand that their identities be revealed. Entire cases are based on the unsubstantiated assertions of informants, often with tragic results for innocent citizens unwittingly targeted. The DEA has gone so far as to import cocaine and stage phony drug captures to rationalize its own excesses, and government officials have actually engaged in trafficking of hard drugs.186
Meanwhile, a sizeable minority of U.S. citizens has continued to do what mankind has done for thousands of years, i.e. use cannabis medicinally and recreationally in a responsible manner, and the majority of states have followed the wishes and votes of the inhabitants and legalized medicinal cannabis and/or greatly reduced the sanctions on personal possession and use. Unfortunately, the federal government, ignoring all logic and harmony, has continued to cater to socially divisive special-interests, ratcheting up the penalties for possession or distribution of cannabis to include life in prison for amounts which would have been comparatively small in the early days of the 20th century or even in 1970, and has persisted in utilizing false propaganda to justify its ever-increasing expenditure of lives and billions of tax dollars in its immoral and unjust war on the U.S. population.
Whereas in 1946, 700-800 people were arrested for cannabis, now each year some 700,000 political prisoners are torn from the arms of their families on cannabis charges, 80% of which are for simple possession, totaling over 11 million since 1965. The prison industry has expanded exponentially, making millions for its investors, and racism reigns supreme in the justice system. Privacy-invading drug testing is rampant, a huge business owned and operated by many of the same former public officials who supported prohibition while in office. False positive results are quite common – Advil, for instance, a widely-used headache pill, can give positive indications of cannabis use – with job loss or loss of freedom as the likely result. At one time, Eli Lilly and Parke Davis cooperated in a joint venture to develop a potent Indica strain named cannabis Americana. Now, these same companies and others conspire to prohibit this inexpensive, efficacious, herbal balm-for-many-ills in order to foist their poor-replacement, expensive pharmaceuticals on a captive public.187
In the three decades since the advent of the CSA, numerous studies have been done, all of which have amply demonstrated the benign character and high medicinal value of mankind’s most ancient plant friend, yet Congress and the Executive branch remain unmoved, continually parroting false data too inaccurate to be taken seriously, but which gain credence through sheer weight of repetition. A glance at relevant bills introduced in the House and Senate in 1999 shows only one out of twenty-six which seeks to legalize medicinal marijuana; all the others are for prohibiting popular new recreational drugs, some undoubtedly dangerous, or for increasing penalties up to and including the death penalty on those drugs already prohibited, further advancing Stone Age techniques and policies. Treatment and counseling are discarded options for drug addictions and the harsh penalties have failed to make much impact.
An example of the sort of quid pro quo engaged in by the Congress in the name of drug control is “Plan Colombia,” a $1.4 billion “counternarcotics” package of which $360 million is slated to purchase 28 “Black Hawk” attack helicopters from Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation, which has given $14,000 to Representative Rosa DeLauro (D) CT since 1998. Since 1999, when “Plan Colombia” went into effect, the U.S. has spent five times the total amount spent on the Persian Gulf War on the “War on Drugs,” yet coca production has risen 11%. Many foreign policy experts are afraid that this sort of military expenditure is an unwarranted intrusion into the forty-year-old civil strife of a sovereign nation and will eventually lead the U.S. into another Vietnam-type imbroglio in our own hemisphere.188
When confronted with the illogic and inhumanity, as well as evidence of the environmental ravages of the current cannabis prohibition, authorities maintain that even if the U.S. desired to put an end to it, nothing could be done due to the Anslinger-inspired international restrictions on the hemp plant. This is emphatically untrue. The preamble of the UN’s Single Convention Treaty protects the right to use even narcotic drugs as medicines and Article 28 specifically allows the use of cannabis for scientific and medical purposes. It also exempts from control hemp cultivation for industrial or horticultural uses. Article 28 only requires that measures be adopted to prevent “misuse of and illicit traffic in” cannabis leaves which, since Article 42 makes the treaty subject to the constitutions of its signatory nations, means that each nation could legalize cannabis any way it might wish. In addition, Article 46 allows any sovereign nation to denounce the treaty at any time.
The European nations, Canada, and Australia have been moving in the opposite direction from the madness of the U.S. – toward sanity. They are all making strides toward re-legalization and the utilization of the full industrial capabilities of this amazing plant. Holland has clung tenaciously to its successful policy of separating cannabis from hard drugs, and Amsterdam is the only European city where narcotics addiction rates appear to be falling. This fact has not gone unnoticed: a group of seventeen cities and regions in Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, and Greece signed the Frankfurt Resolution, which called for the “decriminalization and de-penalization” of drug use and users. In November 1991, the Swiss Supreme Court ruled that criminal penalties for cannabis use in the absence of such penalties for alcohol, violated the equal protection clause of their constitution. A German Superior Court made a similar ruling. Although public consumption of cannabis was banned in Spain by a little-noticed clause in a sweeping 1991 antiterrorism law, personal possession and use in the home is still quite legal. The Colombian Supreme Court went even further and removed penalties from the use of all drugs, ruling that prohibition violates the rights to privacy, autonomy and “the free development of personality.” In addition, a significant number of European nations, both Eastern and Western, Russia, China, Australia and Canada already cultivate industrial hemp, mainly for fiber and seed. On the hopeful side in the U. S., in July 2000, the State of Maryland authorized a police-supervised pilot project to grow and market industrial hemp as a possible alternate crop for tobacco. Perhaps cannabis Americana will not have to seek more enlightened political climes in order to reach its full potential after all.189
In its unconstitutional and immoral attempt to control men’s appetites through prohibition, the U.S. Federal Government has emasculated the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse anticipated and warned of this in its 1972 report as Richard Nixon proclaimed his “War on Drugs,” which he and his successors have now waged on the American people for thirty years – by far America’s longest war and the most damaging to our society and our way of life. Among other things, the report said that:
Under certain conditions, perhaps, law enforcement alone might eliminate the illicit market in drugs. To achieve this, though, would require, at the least, multifold increases in manpower, a suspension of Fourth Amendment restraints on police searches, seizures, and wire taps, wide-scale pre-trial detention, abolition of the exclusionary rule and border controls so extreme that they would substantially hinder foreign commerce.
These nightmares have now been brought to pass. Law enforcement manpower has been increased many times over and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 – passed to protect civilians from government militarism – was breached so often that in 1982, it was amended to allow the U.S. military to enforce drug laws. A war was waged in Panama costing several thousand lives, allegedly because drug trafficking threatened U.S. security, but it is difficult to comprehend how using the Ninth Infantry Division to raid hemp crops in Oregon in the secretive 1990 Operation Ghost Dancer was in any wise connected with national security interests.
The Fourth Amendment has become a veritable Swiss cheese of “good faith” exceptions, with random searches of automobiles, blood, and urine, and property seized without evidence of a crime. While it could not be more obvious that the creators of the Eighth Amendment never conceived that an attempt would be made to deny bail completely, this Amendment has apparently been absolutely subsumed by the 1984 Bail “Reform” Act. Ostensibly passed to make bail more available to everyone, in the true spirit of the Eighth Amendment, which pointedly says that “Excessive bail shall not be required,” this law, passed on the basis of very dubious statistics, allows detention without bail for anyone accused of a drug offense carrying a maximum sentence of ten years or more, which includes all but the most minor offenses. Completely forgotten is former Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred Vinson’s admonition in the 1951 Stack v. Boyle case that “this traditional right to freedom before conviction permits the unhampered preparation of a defense” and “unless this right to bail before trial is preserved, the presumption of innocence, secured only after centuries of struggle, would lose its meaning.”
The Sixth Amendment right to a defense and a speedy and public trial also loses its meaning when the Bail “Reform” Act is coupled with the “Speedy” Trial Act, which redefines the term that appears in the Amendment and technically allows indefinite detention without trial by exempting periods of time that fall within a plethora of parameters that combine to form an unbroken skein. Detention sometimes lasting for years has been ruled not to be punishment by the Supreme Court. Defendants are routinely forced to incriminate themselves and become informants on others in violation of the Fifth Amendment by threats to apply the most draconian of penalties against them if they refuse, and the Eighth Amendment’s stricture against “cruel and unusual punishment” is ignored because the current Supreme Court has determined that while a punishment may certainly be cruel, as long as it is applied widely enough not to be unusual, it is perfectly legal. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments, reserving unenumerated rights and rights not specifically delegated to the federal government for the people, are rarely, if ever, discussed and over all is the patina of the all-but-useless Fifth Amendment phrase, “due process of law.”190
The recent USA PATRIOT Act, another example of Congressional excess in the name of security, was overwhelmingly passed in the wake the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, admittedly without perusal by the majority of Congress, and may prove to be even more damaging to our already-eroded Bill of Rights.
In sum, the U.S. “War on Drugs” is a fraudulent, institutionalized psychosis that has cost Americans their civil rights, hundreds of billions of tax dollars, more hundreds of billions in lost industrial opportunities, perhaps as many as fifty million man-years spent in prisons, and countless deaths at home and abroad. The most pernicious phase of this “war” is the cannabis prohibition, which is the least rational, the most destructive to our environment, and has harmed the greatest number of people by far. Jamaican statesman Michael Manley criticized the legislature and the harsh laws against cannabis in his country in the 1970s with logic that rings true today for any country that claims to be free and democratic:
When the issue is not critical to the life of the society, yet the youngest offender, the smallest offender, must get a brutal, life-ruining penalty in the same way as the hardened and wicked offender, you are unfit to be legislators and unfit to be in charge of human beings, human lives in a civilized country.191