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Mr. Vinson: What statute is that?
Dr. Woodward: That is the United States Code, 1934 edition, title 21, section 198. It is the statute of June 14, 1930.
Mr. Vinson: To what does it refer?
Dr. Woodward: To the statute that created the present Bureau of Narcotics. If there is at the present time any weakness in our State laws relating to Cannabis or to marihuana, a fair share of the blame, if not all of it, rests on the Secretary of the Treasury and his assistants who have had this duty imposed upon them for 6 and more years.18
With a boatload of inflammatory articles from William Randolf Hearst's yellow journalism publications, Harry J. Anslinger railroaded the bill through Congress in almost record time, with passage on October 1, 1937.17
The United States Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was not so much a reaction to the true dangers of the drug as it was the product of a corrupt and insidious agenda, which included the following:
- Racism – Marijuana was more heavily used by the black population, Mexicans, and Latin Americans, so the law was a tool designed to penalize these groups of people.
- Fear – Marijuana was linked with violent behavior and the fear that marijuana users (see Racism) would hang around school yards, expose (white) children to marijuana, and the children would be enslaved by the drug. Or that marijuana users (see Racism) would become crazed by marijuana, rape (white) women, and go on murderous rampages.
- Protection of Corporate Profits – Marijuana was effective for many conditions and impinged on the corporate profits of the pharmaceutical companies.
- Yellow Journalism – William Randolf Hearst was friends with DuPont, who had just developed nylon, which competed with hemp. Hearst published extensive diatribes against marijuana, salacious fabrications designed to terrify and titillate his audiences (see Racism and Fear).
- Ignorant, Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators – Those who wanted to appear to be tough on crime did so by passing this rigorous drug legislation.
- Personal Career Advancement – Harry J. Anslinger, newly-named director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, used the opportunity "to define both the problem and the solution," adding the more widely used cannabis to build the scope of his agency's responsibilities.
- Greed – The lurid stories William Randolf Hearst invented about the dangers of cannabis sold newspapers, made him rich, and forced cannabis underground for the better part of a century.17 These stories and the passage of this law also protected the interests of his good friend DuPont and the profits of the pharmaceutical companies.
At the 1936 Convention for the Suppression of the Illicit Traffic in Dangerous Drugs, the American government tried to get participating countries to criminalize the non-medical and non-scientific "cultivation, production, manufacture, and distribution" of opium, coca … and cannabis. The majority of the countries present wanted to keep the focus on illicit trafficking. When the final version of the agreement only called upon the countries to severely punish drug traffickers, the US refused to sign it. In short time, the US exerted enough political and financial pressure to push through its agenda, establishing cannabis as a deadly narcotic drug.19
More recently, the Controlled Substances Act established federal US drug policy regulating "the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances."20 Passed by the 91st United States Congress as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, the statute was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.20
As defined by this statute, a Schedule 1 drug is the following:
- A drug or other substance that has a high potential for abuse.
- A drug or other substance that has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
- A drug or other substance which is unsafe for use under medical supervision.21
It is illegal to write prescriptions for Schedule 1 drugs.21
Cannabis and its medicinal compounds have often been perceived as a threat to "organized" medicine, as have other non-toxic healing modalities such as homeopathy. Classifying cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act was highly effective in making cannabis unavailable for pharmacological applications or even research.
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