The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 is often cited as the origin of the US federal government’s ban on cannabis. Sure, the language of prohibition has changed over the years, but this is the law that set the precedent for the ongoing policies we live with today—or so the story goes. Yet few know that The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 is neither the beginning nor the end of the story of the federal government’s divisive dealings with the drug.
Rather, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 is best understood as a critical turning point in the country’s attitude toward the plant, its possibilities and its “perils”. And seen through this lens, as a contested, controversial and tremendously unpopular measure, the current state of weed politics in the US makes a lot of sense. Not too much, in other words, has changed.
We all know history has a tendency to repeat itself. First as tragedy, then as farce, as Marx memorably quipped. Keep that in mind as you dive into this brief history of the Marihuana Tax Act—emphasis on the “h”.
We’ll look at what the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was, what it did, and how in so many ways it is the perfect embodiment of everything that’s backward and frustrating about the federal government’s steadfast refusal to end the ban on cannabis today.
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937: Regulation or Prohibition?
Most people think of the Marihuana Tax Act as the law that began prohibition on cannabis in the United States. Technically, however, the act gave the federal government the power to regulate marijuana.
There was a legal strategy behind regulation. Unlike outright prohibiting marijuana, placing a tax on it was more difficult to challenge in court. And from that perspective, the strategy worked. The Marihuana Tax Act stood from 1937 until 1969.
But regulation and taxation; that sounds a lot like arguments made today in favor of federally legalizing cannabis. So what did the act really do? And why do people consider it to be the birth of cannabis prohibition in the United States?
On The Eve of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937…
The truth is that the United States federal government began regulating and restricting the sale of cannabis as a drug more than 30 years ahead of the Tax Act, starting in 1906. Local laws had regulated cannabis as far back as 1860.
But by the mid-1930s, the popularity of cannabis was on the rise. On top of that, industrial hemp production was experiencing something of a resurgence.
The hemp point is worth mentioning because of a popular theory about the Tax Act. This theory holds that the Tax Act was an effort to subvert the reemergence of the hemp industry, orchestrated at the highest levels by some of America’s most prominent businessmen.
So let’s introduce a few characters into the story. Enter Andrew Mellon, William Randolph Hearst, and the DuPont family. Each had reason to fear competition from the burgeoning hemp industry and financial incentive to halt its expansion.
Hearst was a logging and timber tycoon. Hemp was quickly becoming a much cheaper substitute for paper pulp, especially during the Great Depression.
The DuPont family had just developed nylon, a fiber in direct competition with hemp-based textiles. (To this day, the DuPont family denies this connection. They say they were up against silk and rayon, not hemp.)
And Andrew Mellon was at the time the wealthiest individual in the US. He also happened to be Secretary of the Treasury and have extensive investments in DuPont.
So that was the situation leading up to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. It was one in which powerful forces appeared in league to make sure that if marijuana was going to be a cash crop of the future, the wealthy had better get their cut. Sound familiar?
What The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 Did and Didn’t Do
The Tax Act wasn’t a straight-up prohibition on marijuana. What it did was impose a bevy of exorbitant taxes, regulations and restrictions on the commerce in marijuana from top to bottom.
It takes only a few minutes to read through the Marihuana Tax Act, which spans just six pages. But here’s the tl;dr version.
SEC. 2. (a) Every person who imports, manufactures, produces, compounds, sells, deals in, dispenses, prescribes, administers, or gives away marihuana shall […] pay the following special taxes respectively:
What follows is a five-item list of special costs for anyone and everyone involved with marijuana. And it’s not just importers, growers, manufacturers, producers. Physicians, dentists, vets, and other healthcare professionals, who had up to that point been pioneering the study and use of cannabis as medicine, now had to pay up.
The problem was that these special taxes were so high and so comprehensive, with so few exemptions, that most of the people involved in the commerce of cannabis would not be able to pay them. And if you didn’t pay your weed taxes, the Marihuana Tax Act made you a criminal.
SEC. 4. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person required to register and pay the special tax under the provisions of section 2 to import, manufacture, produce, compound, sell, deal in, dispense, distribute, prescribe, administer, or give away marihuana without having so registered and paid such tax.
There’s a few more nuts and bolts, but that essentially sums up the law. Under the guise of taxing and regulating marijuana, what the Marihuana Tax Act actually ending up doing was making marijuana illegal, since no one was about to register and start paying the outlandish taxes on something people could grow in their own backyards.
The Legacy of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and the Fight For Legalization Today
In 1937, as now, the federal government’s restrictive policy on marijuana was the subject of intense debate. Then, as now, marijuana prohibition was tremendously unpopular and actively resisted. And then, as now, proponents and detractors came to the table with different, competing sets of data.
Now’s a good time to introduce one Mr. Harry J. Anslinger, the godfather of prohibition and archetype of virtually every anti-cannabis zealot in the United States.
If you have a problem with the federal government’s ban on cannabis today, blame Anslinger. Have an issue with the decades of racial disparity in drug enforcement? You can blame Anslinger for that, too.
As first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a post he held from 1930 to 1962, Harry Anslinger was instrumental in birthing the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. But before he became head of the Bureau of Narcotics, Anslinger had frequently denounced the fear-mongering around cannabis use.
Anslinger disputed claims that cannabis use was a problem and harmed people. He once said “there is no more absurd fallacy” than the notion that cannabis makes people violent.
Harry J. Anslinger: The Jeff Sessions of the 1930s?
But in the early 1930s, Anslinger did a heel turn on the issue of cannabis. Historians point to two reasons. First, after the prohibition on alcohol ended in 1933, the Department of Prohibition Anslinger headed became obsolete and he was out of a job. Ushering in a prohibition on cannabis would reinvigorate Anslinger’s career. Now, he had a purpose again.
The second reason is, unfortunately, more familiar. Harry Anslinger was a virulent, unapologetic racist. And as he ratcheted up his fight against marijuana, he doubled down on the racist overtones of his rhetoric, best encapsulated by this cringe-worthy epithet: “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
Insofar as Anslinger frequently couched his anti-marijuana campaign in the language of white supremacy, he was basically the Jeff Sessions of the 1930s. That racism is embedded in the title of the act itself. Marihuana, with an “h,” was a derogatory term Americans would have associated with anti-Mexican and anti-black sentiment.
Trump might have taken a liking to Anslinger as well. Both cunningly used the mass media to propel their fringe views to the political mainstream. And both used these platforms to disseminate “alternative facts” designed to mislead public opinion.
Indeed, Anslinger partnered up with none other than William Randolph Hearst to flood the public with false or fraudulent stories about the terrible crimes supposed to have been committed by marijuana users. Anslinger called these the “Gore Files.”
Fun fact: Anslinger also hated jazz about as much as he hated jazz musicians. He went so far as to set up a nationwide dragnet of jazz musicians and kept an official file called “Marijuana and Musicians.”
The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 Was An Attack On Healthcare and Patient Rights
While Harry Anslinger and his wealthy cronies succeeded in whipping up a frenzy of “reefer madness” in the United States, calmer heads remained committed to challenging the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 on the basis of the restrictions it put on healthcare providers and patients.
In the lead up to Congress passing the act in 1937, the American Medical Association came out sharply opposed to the bill. The AMA argued that the tax placed an undue burden on physicians prescribing cannabis, the pharmacists who sold it and medical cannabis producers.
Dr. William Creighton Woodward, legislative counsel for the AMA in 1937, blasted the bill for being prepared in secret. The formal opposition had no chance to make its case. Woodward also seriously doubted the widely circulated claims about marijuana addiction, violence and overdosing.
And he pointed to this interesting fact about the Tax Act. By using the term marihuana, Woodward argued that healthcare professionals weren’t aware of the act’s full implications.
Doctors, in other words, knew the drug by its botanical name Cannabis Sativa, not the derogatory and racially tinged word used in the Tax Act. Indeed, few at the time really knew the word “marijuana” at all.
“Marijuana is not the correct term,” Woodward wrote. “Yet the burden of this bill is placed heavily on the doctors and pharmacists of this country.”
Despite Woodward’s last-ditch efforts to stop the act from passing, Congress made their decision based on a different set of reports supplied by none other than Anslinger himself.
The Death Of The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and the Birth of Modern Prohibition
Rushed-through legislation, behind-closed-door meetings, lawmakers making decisions based on incomplete, inaccurate, and misleading information that serves the interests of wealthy individuals over the general public’s. In so many ways, the story of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 bears many resemblances to the story of the fight for cannabis reform in legislatures across the US today.
The Supreme Court finally overturned the Marihuana Tax Act in 1969, in Leary v. United States. The court ruled that the act violated the Fifth Amendment and was therefore unconstitutional. Indeed, you had to incriminate yourself in order to pay your marijuana taxes.
But the spirit of the Marihuana Tax Act lives on. Namely, in the Controlled Substances Act Congress passed in 1970, which ultimately repealed (and replaced) the 1937 law. Jumping ahead nearly fifty years—well, more than 80 since the Tax Act—the US federal government still considers cannabis to be a Schedule I substance, with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” We live with that prohibition today. But times, they are a’changin’.
The post The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 appeared first on High Times.
1. What is CBD? What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp/cannabis. Its formula is C21H30O2 and it has a molecular mass of 314.4636. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and is being scientifically investigated for various reasons.
CBD oil is a cannabis oil (whether derived from marijuana or industrial hemp, as the word cannabis is the latin genus name for both) that has significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) contained within it. Our CBD products and extracts are derived from industrial hemp, so they could be considered CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or plainly “hemp extracts” since they typically contain much more than just CBD. Again, cannabis doesn’t mean marijuana, but is the genus name, and general umbrella term which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall under. The form of cannabis we use for our CBD and hemp extracts is industrial hemp; we do not sell marijuana.
2. If a hemp extract is 40% cannabinoids, what’s the other 60%? What’s in your hemp extracts besides the naturally occurring cannabinoids?
Our Kentucky hemp extracts contain over 80 different phyto-cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), CBC, CBG, CBN, etc.. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our agricultural hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules and phyto-chemical compounds such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 & 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavanoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. The most common terpenes in our hemp extracts are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Nerolidol og Phytol, trans-alpha-Bergamotene, Limonene/ beta-Phellandrene (Co-elution), and alpha-Humulene.
3. What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?
Scientifically, industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though. Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. Typically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as our Kentucky hemp we’re now using!
99% of the time marijuana has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and only a trace amount of THC. Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’ Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so much more, whereas marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. The term cannabis oil can refer to either a marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis.
In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
4. Are hemp derived cannabinoids such as CBD as good as CBD from marijuana?
The short answer is yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low non-psychoactive cannabinoid profile (like CBD, CBC, CBG), so most of the time hemp would be much more preferable for anything besides THC. Marijuana is usually very high in THC (gives people the high) but usually very low in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.
Nowadays in the USA, many farmers are growing industrial hemp flowers that are just as beautiful, odor-producing, and terpene rich as the best marijuana strains, such as our partnered farmers in Kentucky.
5. Why don’t you source your Hemp and CBD from within Colorado?
We feel that the hemp program in Kentucky is more well suited for our company in regards to growing hemp, and that because it’s 100% compliant with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (and the 2016 Agricultural Appropriations Act), procuring it from there is perfectly legal at the federal level. Kentucky’s ecology is perfect for hemp just as it is for tobacco. The growing season is longer than in Colorado, and the soil is richer, so the quality of the hemp and the yields are better.
6. What’s the percentage of cannabinoids and CBD in your product?
Our raw extracts have varying percentages of cannabinoid and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the range being 10%-99%. Each product has a unique formulation and uses varying ratios of our extract types. Our CBD Isolate is over 99% pure CBD.
7. What is the best method of use?
For our dietary supplements we can only recommend them for internal consumption. Our CBD isolate is for research purposes only. If you don’t like the flavor of the oil supplements, you can mix with something sweet like apple sauce or honey to cut through the flavor.
8. What’s the ideal serving size for me, and how often should I take it?
There is no easy answer to this. Our starting recommended serving size is 15 drops but we generally recommend experimenting to see what feels best to you. Some prefer 5 drops, some prefer over 50 drops per day.
9. What is the safety of your hemp extracts? Are there negative side effects?
Hemp is considered by many to be generally safe. We’ve never seen or heard of any significant or negative side effects in our years in the industry. That said, we can’t rule them out. Please consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement including Hemp extract supplements.
10. Which of your CBD and hemp products should I get?
As a company who sells various dietary and food supplements, we can’t suggest any of our products for the prevention, treatment or cure of any disease or ailment.
When considering our different dietary hemp products, know that they all come in two strengths. Our Original Hemp blends (Classic Hemp Blend, Hemp Complete, Brainpower oil, & Signature Blend) all have 250+mg of cannabinoids per fluid ounce, and our concentrated blends have 1,500+mg per fluid ounce, six times the potency of our traditional oils. We’ve found that sometimes less is more, but nevertheless, some people like to take very large serving sizes of our hemp extracts.
The main difference between the four Original Blends is the additional herbal ingredients besides hemp. We suggest you research the separate components of each blend to determine which product may be most appealing to add to your dietary regimen. If you know it’s solely the hemp extract that you are looking for, with no additional ingredients, then Classic Hemp Blend or Classic Hemp 6x is what you’re looking for.
For dabbing and vaporizing or for research you can try our CBD Isolate.
THOSE WHO SUSPECT THEY MAY HAVE A DISEASE OR ARE SEEKING HELP FOR A DISEASE SHOULD CONSULT A QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
11. Why do people use Hemp Extracts and CBD? What are the benefits and uses of CBD?
In accordance with federal regulations we cannot make health claims regarding our dietary supplement products. We can only recommend our products for general wellness.
12. Is a standard hemp seed oil the same as a high-CBD hemp extract?
Absolutely not. Standard hemp oil, which can be found very cheaply at a grocery store, is a much different product than our CO2 hemp extracts (not from seed). Standard hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds, whereas our hemp extract is a supercritical CO2 extraction of the hemp plant itself, not the seeds. Hemp seed oil is considered to be a great nutritive food, but it doesn’t have the naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids and other components that our extracts do have.
13. Do I need to move to Colorado to get your Hemp Extracts and CBD? Where do you ship?
No. We actually source our hemp from Kentucky, as it’s legal to ship across state lines. Many people are under the impression that the only way to acquire hemp extracts and CBD for themselves or a loved one is to move to Colorado or another cannabis-friendly state. Many major news outlets are misinformed and are unfortunately spreading the idea that you can only get CBD oil in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This is simply not the case though. Because our extracts comes from hemp instead of marijuana, we can and do ship to all fifty states, and no medical marijuana card is needed. There are some exceptions, like with Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota we can’t sell our concentrated products due to state legislation.
We also ship to Japan, Australia, the EU, Switzerland, and Brazil. For all EU orders contact our exclusive distributor there, Cannawell.
14. Is your Hemp Extract Oil similar to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil?
Not quite. Ours are from hemp and RSHO is usually using marijuana, a different form of cannabis than industrial hemp. Our industrial hemp extracts are more standardized and will usually have a much higher content of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD than one produced through the Rick Simpson method. And oils produced through his method will usually have a much higher THC content, as it’s typically marijuana that is used for RSHO.†
Generally speaking, most marijuana producers and sellers (especially on the black market) don’t test for contaminants (metals, pesticides, bacteria, etc.). Rick Simpson Hemp Oil is actually more a method of extraction than it is a specific product. People use the Rick Simpson method with hundreds of different strains of marijuana, so the THC, CBD and other cannabinoid content of the final oil is always varying greatly, depending on the cannabis the consumers are acquiring. Usually what’s used for Rick Simpson oil is a strain with an inferior CBD content (and high THC), because that’s what the vast amount of marijuana is nowadays.
15. Where do you source your hemp and CBD from?
We have partners in Kentucky who grew a dedicated plot for us this year (2016) which is being used in our products now. We also currently source from Europe but we’ll be changing that soon.
16. What kind of testing/analysis is performed on your products?
We have an industry leading quality control system, and we have third party laboratories analyze all of our hemp extracts and our final products for cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, bacterial and microbial life, mycotoxins (fungus), and pesticides.
17. What is CO2 extraction? What’s the difference between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractions?
CO2 extraction is an extraction process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract phyto-chemicals (such as CBD, CBG, or terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) from a plant. CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures acts like a solvent, without the dangers of actually being one. It is the most expensive extraction method, and is widely considered the most effective and safest plant extraction method in the world.
Many hemp and CBD companies boast about their supercritical CO2 extractions, but that’s actually only one (and perhaps an inferior) method of using a CO2 extraction machine. There are also subcritical CO2 extractions, and ‘mid-critical’, a general range between subcritical and supercritical. Subcritical (low temp, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce smaller yields than super-critical, but they retain the essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high pressure and high temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat sensitive chemicals, but can extract much larger molecules such as lipids (omega 3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes. A truly full-spectrum CO2 extract includes first performing a subcritical extraction, separating the extracted oil, and then extracting the same plant material using supercritical pressure, and then homogenizing both oil extracts into one. In the essential oil industry, an extract made using this specific process is referred to as a CO2 Total.
18. What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?
“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors.” Wikipedia
There are two main types of receptors in the ECS, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and brains of mammals, and CB2 are generally found in the peripheral nervous system. There are two main cannabinoids mammals produce- 2AG and Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit term “ananda” which translates to “peace”).
For hundreds of millions of years every vertebrate on Earth has been equipped with this ECS, a crucial system in the body, and it has been known about in the scientific and medical communities since the 1980’s. However, it’s still not taught about in most medical schools.