Origins Of Marijuana Laws In The United States

1151 words - 5 pages

A great many of today's citizens erroneously believe that the criminalization of marijuana came into effect as a result of research conducted with due diligence by trained scientists and physicians. The true reasons behind the criminalization of marijuana had little to do with the supposed harmful effects from its use as a recreational drug and much more to do with the financial bottom line of the entrenched industrial complex of this country. The leading advocates of the campaign to ban the use of marijuana were influential businessmen which held huge stakes in paper, pharmaceutical, and petrochemical industries. Their interest in promoting the criminalization of marijuana did not stem from an overwhelming concern for public health, but rather in eliminating what they saw as a serious competitor which had the potential to cut into their profit margins. It was not the use of marijuana which threatened their interests, but rather the commercial uses of the fibers from the hemp plant. However they saw that the campaign to make the use and transfer of marijuana as a convenient means to facilitate their ends. They then set out on a campaign using their virtually unlimited legal, financial, and mass media resources to hide the truth about the plant from the public and replace it with disinformation based on exaggerations and out right lies which so effective that it whipped the public into a state of wide spread fear that was known as “reefer madness”.
The hemp plant and its many and varied uses have been long known to humans and goes back several centuries. Its production was widespread and extremely profitable for farmers and in fact in some areas of the middle-Atlantic region of the country its production was actually mandated by public law and it was a crop so valuable that it could actually be used to pay one's property taxes up until the early part of the nineteenth century. A short list of the many uses of this versatile plant during this era included paper, canvas, and most notably rope. As technology progressed the uses for the plant expanded as well. In the early twentieth century it was used in the production of the earliest plastics and gasoline. The first Ford Model T's ran on hemp gas and many of the car's parts were made from hemp fibers which had an impact strength ten times stronger than steel according to a Popular Mechanics article in 1941. The US government in 1916 predicted that by the 1940s all paper produced in this country would be made from hemp fiber and in its February 1938 issue touted hemp as the world's first “billion dollar crop”. From an environmental standpoint besides the important fact hemp grows in a single growing season, while it takes an entire generation to grow trees. It takes far fewer chemicals and thus creates much less pollution to make paper from hemp than from tree pulp. Hemp grows very fast and tall and will choke out all other plants in the area including weeds so the use of herbicides...

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