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The industrial revolution of the 19th Century was a setback for hemp in world commerce, due to the lack of mechanized harvesting and breaking technology needed for mass production. But this natural resource was far too valuable to be relegated to the back burner of history for very long.

By 1916, USDA Bulletin 404 predicted that a decorticating and harvesting machine would be developed, and hemp would again be America's largest agricultural industry. In 1938, magazines such as Popular Mechanics, and Mechanical Engineering introduced a new generation of investors to fully operational hemp decorticating devices; bringing us to this next bit of history. Because of this machine, both indicated that hemp would soon be America's number-one crop!

Breakthrough in Papermaking

If hemp were legally cultivated using 20th Century technology, it would be the single largest agricultural crop in the United States and world today!

In 1937, hemp was still legal to grow. And those who predicted billions of dollars in new cannabis businesses did not consider income from medicines, energy (fuel) and food, which would now add another trillion dollars or more annually to our coming "natural" economy (compared to our synthetic, environmentally troubled economy). Relaxational smoking would add only a relatively minor amount to this figure.

The most important reason that the 1938 magazine articles projected billions in new income was hemp for "pulp paper" (as opposed to fiber or rag paper). Other reasons were for its fiber, seed and many other pulp uses.

This remarkable new hemp pulp technology for papermaking was invented in 1916 by our own U.S. Department of Agriculture chief scientist, botanist Lyster Dewey and chemist Jason Merrill.

This technology, coupled with the breakthrough of G.W. Schlichten's decorticating machine, patented in 1917, made hemp a viable paper source at less than half the cost of tree-pulp paper. The new harvesting machinery, along with Schlichten's machine, brought the processing of hemp down from 200 to 300 man-hours per acre to just a couple of hours. Twenty years later, advancing technology and the building of new access roads made hemp even more valuable. Unfortunately, by then, opposition forces had gathered steam and acted quickly to suppress hemp cultivation.

A Plan to Save Our Forests

Some cannabis plant strains regularly reach tree-like heights of 20 feet or more in one growing season.

The new paper process used hemp "hurds" - 77% of the hemp stalk's weight - which was then a wasted by-product of the fiber stripping process.

In 1916, USDA Bulletin No. 404 reported that one acre of cannabis hemp, in annual rotation over a 20-year period, would produce as much pulp for paper, was equal to 4.1 acres of trees being cut down over the same 20-year period. This process would use one 1/7 to 1/4 as much polluting sulfur-based acid chemicals to break down the glue-like lignin that binds the fibers of the pulp, or even none at all using soda ash. All this lignin must be broken down to make pulp. Hemp pulp is only 4-10% lignin, while trees are 18-30% lignin. The problem of dioxin contamination of rivers is avoided in the hemp papermaking process, which does not need to use chlorine bleach (as the wood pulp papermaking process requires), but instead substitutes safer hydrogen peroxide in the bleaching process.

Thus, hemp provides four times as much pulp with at least four to seven times less pollution.

This hemp pulp-paper potential depended on the invention and the engineering of new machines for stripping the hemp by modern technology. This would also lower demand for lumber and reduce the cost of housing, while at the same time helping re-oxygenate the planet.

As an example: If the new (1916) hemp pulp paper process were in use legally today, it would soon replace about 70% of all wood pulp paper, including computer printout paper, corrugated boxes and paper bags.

Pulp paper made from 60-100% hemp hurds is stronger and more flexible than paper made from wood pulp. Making paper from wood pulp damages the environment. Hemp papermaking does not.

Conservation & Source Reduction

Reduction of the source of pollution, usually from manufacturing with petrochemicals or their derivatives, is a cost-cutting waste control method often called for by environmentalists.

Whether the source of pollution is CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) from refrigeration, spray cans, computers, or tritium and plutonium produced for military uses, or the sulfuric acids used by papermakers, the goal is reducing the source of pollution.

In the supermarket when you are asked to choose paper or plastic for your bags, you are faced with an environmental dilemma: paper from trees that were cut, or plastic bags made from fossil fuel and chemicals. With a third choice available - hemp hurd paper - one could choose a biodegradable, durable paper from an annually renewable resource - the cannabis hemp plant.

The environmental advantages of harvesting hemp annually - leaving the trees in the ground! - for papermaking, and for replacing fossil fuels as an energy source, become crucial for the source reduction of pollution.

A Conspiracy to Wipe Out the Natural Competition

In the mid-1930s, when the new mechanical hemp fiber stripping machines and machines to conserve hemp's high-cellulose pulp finally became state-of-the-art, available and affordable, the enormous timber acreage and businesses of the Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division, Kimberly Clark (USA), St. Regis - and virtually all other timber, paper and large newspaper holding companies - stood to lose billions of dollars and perhaps go bankrupt.

Coincidentally, in 1937, DuPont had just patented processes for making plastics from oil and coal, as well as a new sulfate/sulfite process for making paper from wood pulp. According to DuPont's own corporate records and historians, these processes accounted for over 80% of all the company's railroad carloadings over the next 60 years into the 1990s.

If hemp had not been illegal, 80% of DuPont's business would never have materialized and the great majority of America's vital family farms and would probably have boosted their numbers, despite the Great Depression of the 1930s.

But competing against environmentally-sane hemp paper and natural plastic technology would have jeopardized the lucrative financial schemes of Hearst, DuPont and DuPont's chief financial backer, Andrew Mellon of the Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh.

"Social Reorganization"

A series of secret meetings were held.

In 1931, Mellon, in his role as Hoover's Secretary of the Treasury, appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger, to be head of the newly reorganized Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (FBNDD), a post he held for the next 31 years.

These industrial barons and financiers knew that machinery to cut, bale, decorticate (separate the fiber from the high-cellulose hurd), and process hemp into paper or plastics was becoming available in the mid-1930s. Cannabis hemp would have to go.

In DuPont's 1937 Annual Report to its stockholders, the company strongly urged continued investment in its new,  but not readily accepted, petrochemical synthetic products. DuPont was anticipating "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."

In the Marijuana Conviction (University of Virginia Press, 1974), Richard Bonnie and Charles Whitebrad II detailed this process:

"By the fall of 1936, Herman Oliphant (general counsel to the Treasury Department) had decided to employ the taxing power [of the federal government], but in a statute modeled after the National Firearms Act and wholly unrelated to the 1914 Harrison [narcotics] Act. Oliphant himself was in charge of preparing the bill. Anslinger directed his army to turn its campaign toward Washington.

"The key departure of the marijuana tax scheme from that of the Harrison Act is the notion of the prohibitive tax. Under the Harrison Act, a non-medical user could not legitimately buy or possess narcotics. To the dissenters in the Supreme Court decisions upholding this act, this clearly demonstrated that Congress' motive was to prohibit conduct rather than raise revenue. So in the National Firearms Act, designed to prohibit traffic in machine guns, Congress 'permitted' anyone to buy a machine gun, but required him to pay a $200 transfer tax and carry out the purchase on an order form.

"The Firearms Act, passed in June 1934, was the first act to hide Congress' motives behind a prohibitive tax. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the anti-machine gun law on March 29, 1937. Oliphant had undoubtedly been awaiting the Court's decision, and the Treasury Department introduced its marihuana tax bill two weeks later, April 14, 1937."

Thus, DuPont's decision to invest in new technologies based on "forcing acceptance of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reorganization" makes sense.

It is interesting to note that on April 29, 1937, two weeks after the Marihuana Tax Act was introduced, DuPont's foremost scientist, Wallace Hume Carothers, the inventor of NYLON for DuPont, the world's number-one organic chemist, committed suicide by drinking cyanide. Carothers was dead at age 41.

A Question of Motive

DuPont's plans were alluded to during the 1937 Senate hearings by Matt Rens, of Rens Hemp Company:

Mr. Rens: Such a tax would put all small producers out of the business of growing hemp, and the proportion of small producers is considerable... The real purpose of this bill is not to raise money is it?

Senator Brown: Well, we're sticking to the proposition that it is.

Mr. Rens: It will cost a million.

Senator Brown: Thank you. (Witness dismissed.)

Hearst, His Hatred and Hysterical Lies

Concern about the effects of hemp smoke had already led to two major governmental studies. The British governor of India released the Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission 1893-1894 on heavy bhang smokers in the subcontinent.

And in 1930, the U.S. government sponsored the Siler Commission study on the effects of off-duty smoking of marijuana by American servicemen in Panama. Both reports concluded that marijuana was not a problem and recommended that no criminal penalties apply to its use.

In early 1937, Assistant Surgeon General Walter Treadway told the Cannabis Advisory Subcommittee of the League of Nations that, "It may be taken for a relatively long time without social or emotional breakdown. Marihuana is habit-forming...in the same sense as...sugar or coffee."

But other forces were at work. The war fury that led to the Spanish American War in 1898 was ignited by William Randolph Hearst through his nationwide chain of newspapers, and marked the beginning of "yellow journalism" as a force in American politics.

In the 1920s and '30s. Hearst's newspapers deliberately manufactured a new threat to America and a new yellow journalism campaign to have hemp outlawed. For example, a story of a car accident in which a "marijuana cigarette" was found would dominate the headlines for weeks, while alcohol-related car accidents (which outnumbered marijuana-connected accidents by more than 10,000 to 1) made only the back pages.

This same theme of marijuana leading to car accidents was burned into the minds of Americans over and over again in the late 1930s by showing marijuana-related car accident headlines in movies such as "Reefer Madness" and "Marijuana - Assassin of Youth."

Blatant Bigotry

Starting with the 1989 Spanish American War, the Hearst newspaper had denounced Spaniards, Mexican-Americans and Latinos.

After the seizure of 800,000 acres of Hearst's prime Mexican timberland by the "marihuana" smoking army of Pancho Villa, these slurs were intensified.

Non-stop for the next three decades, Hearst painted a picture of the lazy, pot-smoking Mexican - still one of our most insidious prejudices. Simultaneously, he waged a similar racist smear campaign against the Chinese, referring to them as the "Yellow Peril."

From 1910 to 1920, Hearst's newspapers would claim that the majority of incidents in which blacks were said to have raped white women, could be traced directly to cocaine. This continued for 10 years until Hearst decided it was not "cocaine-crazed negroes" raping white women - it was now "marijuana-crazed negroes" raping white women.

Hearst's and other sensationalistic tabloids ran hysterical headlines atop stories portraying "negroes" and Mexicans as frenzied beasts who, under the influence of marijuana, would play anti-white "voodoo-satanic" music (jazz) and hemp disrespect and "viciousness" upon the predominantly white readership. Other such offenses resulting from this drug-induced "crime wave" included: stepping on white men's shadows, looking white people directly in the eye for three seconds or more, looking at a white woman twice, laughing at a white person, etc.

For such "crimes," hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and blacks spent, in aggregate, millions of years in jails, prisons and on chain gangs, under brutal segregation laws that remained in effect throughout the U.S. until the 1950s and '60s. Hearst, through pervasive and repetitive use, pounded the obscure Mexican slang word "marijuana" into the English-speaking American consciousness. Meanwhile, the word "hemp" was discarded and "cannabis," the scientific term, was ignored and buried.

The actual Spanish word for hemp is "canamo." But using a Mexican "Sonoran" colloquialism - marijuana, often Americanized as "marihuana" - guaranteed that few would realize that the proper terms for one of the chief natural medicines, "cannabis," and for the premiere industrial resource, "hemp", had been pushed out of the language.

The Prohibitive Marijuana Tax

In the secret Treasury Department meetings conducted between 1935 and 1937, prohibitive tax laws were drafted and strategies plotted. "Marijuana" was not banned outright; the law called for an "occupational excise tax upon dealers, and a transfer tax upon dealings in marijuana."

Importers, manufacturers, sellers and distributors were required to register with the Secretary of the Treasury and pay the occupational  tax. Transfers were taxed at $1 an ounce; $100 an ounce if the dealer was unregistered. The new tax doubled the price of the legal "raw drug" cannabis which at the time sold for one dollar an ounce. The year was 1937. New York State had exactly one narcotics officer.

After the Supreme Court decision of March 29, 1937, upholding the prohibition of machine guns through taxation, Herman Oliphant made his move. On April 14, 1937 he introduced the bill directly to the House Ways and Means Committee instead of to other appropriate committees such as food and drug, agriculture, textiles, commerce, etc.

His reason may have been that "Ways and Means" is the only committee that can send its bills directly to the House floor without being subject to debate by other committees. Ways and Means Chairman Robert L. Doughton, a key DuPont ally, quickly rubber-stamped the secret Treasury bill and sent it sailing through Congress to the President.

"Did Anyone Consult the AMA?"

However, even within his controlled Committee hearings, many expert witnesses spoke out against the passage of these unusual tax laws.

Dr. William C. Woodward, for instance, who was both a physician and an attorney for the American Medical Association, testified on behalf of the AMA.

He said, in effect, the entire fabric of federal testimony was tabloid sensationalism! No real testimony had been heard! This law, passed in ignorance, could possibly deny the world a potential medicine, especially now that the medical world was just beginning to find which ingredients in cannabis were active.

Woodward told the committee that the only reason the AMA hadn't come out against the marijuana tax law sooner was that marijuana had been described in the press for 20 years as "killer weed from Mexico."

The AMA doctors had just realized two days before these spring 1937 hearings, that the plant Congress intended to outlaw was known medically as cannabis, the benign substance used in America with perfect safety in scores of illnesses for over one hundred years.

"We cannot understand yet, Mr. Chairman," Woodward protested, "why this bill should have been prepared in secret for two years without any intimation, even to the profession, that it was being prepared." He and the AMA were quickly denounced by Anslinger and the entire congressional committee, and curtly excused.

When the Marijuana Tax Act bill came up for oral report, discussion, and vote on the floor of Congress, only one pertinent question was asked from the floor: "Did anyone consult with the AMA and get their opinion?"

Representative Vinson, answering for the Ways and Means Committee replied, "Yes, we have. A Dr. Wharton (mistaken pronunciation of Woodward?) and [the AMA] are in complete agreement!"

With this memorable lie, the bill passed, and became law in December 1937. Federal and state police forces were created, which have incarcerated hundreds of thousands of Americans, adding up to more than 14 million wasted years in jails and prisons - even contributing to their deaths - all for the sake of poisonous, polluting industries, prison guards unions and to reinforce some white politicians' policies of racial hatred.

Others Spoke Out, Too

Also lobbying against the Tax Act with all its energy was the National Oil Seed Institute, representing the high-quality machine lubrication producers as well as paint manufacturers. Speaking to the House Ways and Means Committee in 1937, their general counsel, Ralph Loziers, testified eloquently about the hempseed oil that was to be, in effect, outlawed:

"Respectable authorities tell us that in the Orient, at least 200 million people use this drug; and when we take into consideration that for hundreds, yes, thousands of years, practically that number of people have been using this drug. It is significant that in Asia and elsewhere in the Orient, where poverty stalks abroad on every hand and where they draw on all the plant resources which a bountiful nature has given that domain - it is significant that none of those 200 million people has ever, since the dawn of civilization, been found using the seed of this plant or using the oil as a drug.

"Now, if there were any deleterious properties or principles in the seed or oil, it is reasonable to suppose that these Orientals, who have been reaching out in their poverty for something that would satisfy their morbid appetite, would have discovered it...

"If the committee please, the hempseed, or the seed of the cannabis sativa l., is used in all the Oriental nations and also in a part of Russia as food. It is grown in their fields and used as oatmeal. Millions of people every day are using hempseed in the Orient as food. They have been doing that for many generations, especially in periods of famine...The point I make is this - that this bill is too all inclusive. This bill is a world encircling measure. This bill brings the activities - the crushing of this great industry under the supervision of a bureau - which may mean its suppression. Last year, there was imported into the U.S. 62,813,000 pounds of hempseed. In 1935 there was imported 116 million pounds..."

Protecting Special Interests

As the AMA's Dr. Woodward had asserted, the government's testimony before Congress in 1937 had in fact considered almost entirely of Hearst's and other sensational and racist newspaper articles read aloud by Harry J. Anslinger, director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBI). (This agency has since evolved into the Drug Enforcement Administration (ED).

Prior to 1931, Anslinger was Assistant U.S. Commissioner for Prohibition. Anslinger was hand-picked to head the new Federal Bureau of Narcotics by his uncle-in-law, Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury under President Herbert Hoover. The same Andrew Mellon was also the owner and largest stockholder of the sixth largest bank (in 1937) in the United States, the Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh, one of only two bankers for DuPont from 1928 to the present.

In 1937, Anslinger outrageous racist statements and beliefs were made to the southern dominated congressional committee and is now an embarrassment to read in its entirety.

For instance, Anslinger kept a "Gore File," culled almost entirely from Hearst's and other sensational tabloids - e.g., stories of ax murders, where one of the participants reportedly smoked a joint four days before committing a crime.

Anslinger pushed on Congress as a factual statement that about 50% of all violent crimes committed in the U.S. were committed by Spaniards, Mexican-Americans, Latin Americans, Filipinos, Mexican Americans and Greeks, and these crimes could be traced directly to marijuana.

Not one of Anslinger marijuana "Gore Files" of the 1930s is believed to be true by scholars who have painstakingly checked the facts.

Self Perpetuating Lies

In fact, FBI statistics, had Anslinger bothered to check, showed at least 65-75% of all murders in the U.S. were then - and still are - alcohol related. As an example of his racist statements, Anslinger read into U.S. Congressional testimony (without objection) stories about "coloreds" with big lips, luring white woman with jazz  music and marijuana.

He read an account of two black students at the University of Minnesota doing this to a white coed "with the result of pregnancy." The congressmen of 1937 gasped at this and at the fact that this drug seemingly caused white women to touch or even look at a "negro."

Virtually no one in America other than a handful of rich industrialists and their hired cops knew that their chief potential competitor - hemp - was being outlawed under the name "marijuana."

Marijuana was most likely just a pretext for hemp prohibition and economic suppression.

The water was further muddied by the confusion of marijuana with "loco weed" (Jimson Weed). The situation was not clarified by the press, which continued to print the misinformation into the 1960s.

At the dawn of the 1990s, the most extravagant and ridiculous attacks on the hemp plant draw national media attention - such as a study widely reported by health journals in 1989 that claimed marijuana smokers put on about a half a pound of weight per day. Now, in 1998, they just want to duck the issue.

Meanwhile, serious discussions of the health, civil liberties and economic aspects of the hemp issue are frequently dismissed as being nothing but an "excuse so that people can smoke pot" - as if people need an excuse to state the facts about any matter.

One must concede that, as a tactic, lying to the public about the beneficial nature of hemp and confusing them as to its relationship with "marijuana" has been very successful.

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the authorized on-line version of Jack Herer’s “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”
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