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Ryan Bargoil Mr. Campbell English 1102 13 February 2014 Should marijuana be legal? -I have yet to write an introduction to the essay. Please take that into consideration. The best way to address this is to see where all of the controversy began. The first federal ban placed on marijuana by congress was called the Marijuana Tax Act. The Marijuana Tax Act criminalized marijuana and was only available for those who paid an excise tax for certain authorized medical and industrial uses. The year was 1937, but twenty-nine states had already outlawed marijuana by 1931. This was mainly due to the immigration of Mexican citizens to America following the Spanish-American war. The Mexicans introduced the idea of smoking marijuana recreationally. As crime rates rose among the minority, the fear and prejudices of these people became falsely associated with the plant (PBS). As negativity engulfed the topic, what would happen next made the future of the drug almost inevitable. Before I discuss the events leading up to the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, I would like to focus on the role that the cannabis plant played in our country. In 1619, the Virginia assembly passed the first marijuana law, which required every farmer to grow hemp (PBS). It was even legal to pay taxes with hemp from 1631 to the early 1800s. Hemp was used to make many things such as: medicine, rope, canvas, oil, clothing, food, and paper (the list goes on and on). In 1916, the US government predicted that by 1940 all paper would be made from hemp and trees would no longer need to be cut down. In 1938, hemp was called the Billion Dollar Crop because it was the first cash crop with a business potential exceeding a billion dollars (Yurchey). This super

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plant posed a dangerous threat to many big businesses but a couple in particular. One was a paper manufacturer, William Randolph Hearst. Hemp would have caused him to lose billions. The second was DuPont, an American Chemical company. In 1937, Dupont patented the processes to make plastics from oil and coal. The significance of this was that plastic could also be made from hemp. Natural hemp industrialization would have taken of eighty percent of DuPonts business (Yurchey). Both parties played a pivotal role in the downfall of the cannabis plant. Hearsts newspapers printed various stories about the dangers of marijuana. Huge exaggerations and hyperboles were used to make the readers believe marijuana was responsible for heinous crimes that ranged from car accidents to loss of morality. This was a technique created in the late 1800s in which headlines sold papers and was referred to as Yellow Journalism. To make matters worse, these same industrialists designed films as propaganda to destroy the name of the crop (Im sure everyone has heard of the film Reefer Madness). At this point only a few people. Meanwhile, powerful government officials were conspiring to get rid of hemp once and for all. A man by the name Andrew Mellon gained the position of Secretary of the Treasury for President Hoovers 1929-1933 term. Coincidentally, Mellon also happened to be DuPonts primary investor. He appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry Anslinger, to the head the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. He would hold this position for the next thirty years. On April 14, 1937, the bill that outlawed hemp (Marijuana Tax Act) was brought to the House ways and Means Committee, the only committee that could introduce a bill to the house floor without consulting another committee. Of course, the head of this committee, Robert Doughton, was a DuPont supporter. The bill would undoubtedly pass congress (Yurchey).

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Only after the bill was passed did people start catching on to what was happening. No one knew that this deadly drug marijuana was actually passive hemp (Yurchey). The name marijuana that was given to the hemp plant used in the vast amounts of propaganda actually came from the Mexican slang word marihuana (Why Do We). They chose this name to link it with the prejudices of the Mexican immigrants. In fact, Doctor James Woodard, a physician and attorney, testified on behalf of the American Medical Association but it was too late. The reason he gave for the AMA not denouncing the Marijuana Tax Act sooner was that the Association just discovered that marijuana was referring to hemp, which they understood to be a medicine found in a wide variety of healing products over the last century. This act of foolery was how weed was officially made illegal (Yurchey).

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Works Cited PBS. "Marijuana Timeline." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014. "Why Do We Call It 'Marijuana'?" The Root. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. Yurchey, Doug. "The Marijuana Conspiracy - THE REAL REASON HEMP IS ILLEGAL |" The Marijuana Conspiracy - THE REAL REASON HEMP IS ILLEGAL | N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2014.