Was the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act Fundamentally a Conspiracy to Destroy a Booming HEMP Industry?
A number of credible sources, including professors from several American universities, and an author who has testified as an expert witness on cannabis hundreds of times in American courts, believe that placing legal hurdles and high taxes on the sale and use of cannabis involved closed-door deals between top politicians and some industrialists, and that the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was a means to crush a growing hemp industry.
In his book, “Hemp for Health: The Medicinal and Nutritional Uses of Cannabis Sativa,” author and lecturer Chris Conrad writes about what he believes was a conspiracy among top members of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Treasury Department, and certain industry magnates. Conrad states that by imposing the steep consumer tax on cannabis medicines, the Dept. of the Treasury was creating a new source of revenue for an investment subsidy that it gave to the logging and synthetic fiber industries. At the same time, the tax would end the industrial hemp trade at a time when predictions had been published in scientific magazines that hemp would soon become a cheap, major source of pulp for paper. (Sources: Conrad, 1997; Prairie View A&M Univ. Psych. Prof. Laurence French & Western NM Univ. Pol. Sci. Prof. Magdaleno Manzanarez, “NAFTA & Neocolonialism: Comparative Criminal, Human & Social Justice,” 2004; USC Psych. Prof. Mitch Earleywine, “Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence,” 2005.)
Professors Richard Bonnie, Charles Whitebread, Laurence French and Magdaleno Manzanarez, and cannabis activist and author Jack Herer claim that banker and former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, William Randolph Hearst and the Du Pont family conspired together to destroy what would have otherwise become a giant hemp industry in the United States, to protect their private investments in the lumber trade, which at the time made all the paper in the country. Both Mellon and Hearst owned extensive timber holdings.
In the case of the DuPont Company, the authors assert that the chemical giant was interested in squashing the hemp industry, so that DuPont’s nylon fibers, which had just been patented, would be used to make cordage, textiles, plastics and so forth, instead of hemp fibers and cellulose being used. DuPont had also just invented a new chemical-based process for making paper from tree pulp. As long as paper continued to be made from trees, DuPont’s chemicals would be in demand.
Mellon, who was at the time the richest man in the U.S., had invested heavily in DuPont’s new technologies, which were in competition with hemp. (Bonnie & Whitebread, 1999; French & Manzanarez, 2004; Herer, Rev. 2010, JackHerer.com.) Mellon was also part-owner of Gulf Oil and had investments in coal mines — two more reasons he would have wanted plastics, textiles and cordage to be made from petroleum products and coal, and not renewable hemp. When Mr. Mellon was Treasury Secretary, he had appointed Harry Anslinger as the first commissioner of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a position Anslinger held for 32 years — well past the time when Mellon had returned to the private sector as a banker and investor. Mr. Mellon and Mr. Anslinger also had a more personal connection, in that Mr. Anslinger was married to Mr. Mellon’s niece.
The below four paragraphs are from Herer’s book, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” (Ch. 4):
“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 [more than] 80 percent of all the company’s railroad car loadings over the next 60 years into the 1990s. . . .
“In an open marketplace, hemp would have saved the majority of America’s vital family farms and would probably have boosted their numbers, despite the Great Depression of the 1930s. . . .
“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.” (Herer, Rev. 2010, JackHerer.com.)
Articles published in early 1938 in the magazines Popular Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering (reprinted on the website ElectricEmperor.com – New Billion-Dollar Crop) appear to indicate that hemp indeed was on its way to reclaiming its former status as an important American crop — much bigger than ever — for making paper, textiles and plastics. Popular Mechanics called hemp “the standard fiber of the world,” touting its uncommon strength and durability. These three excerpts are from that article:
“[Hemp] is used to produce more than 5,000 textile products, ranging from rope to fine laces, and the woody ‘hurds’ remaining after the fiber has been removed . . . can be used to produce more than 25,000 products. . . .
“Fish nets, bow strings, canvas, strong rope, overalls, damask tablecloths, fine linen garments, towels, bed linen and thousands of other everyday items can be grown on American farms. . . .
“The paper industry . . . amounts to [more than] $1,000,000,000 a year [$17 billion in current dollars], and of that, eighty per cent is imported. But hemp will produce every grade of paper and government figures estimate that 10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average [wood] pulp land.”
The article called federal regulations that were being drawn up to police hemp growers so as to prevent them from producing high-THC cannabis “stringent,” and concluded that the association between hemp as an industrial crop and high-THC cannabis “seems to be exaggerated.” (“New Billion-Dollar Crop,” Popular Mechanics, Feb. 1938.)
The article in Mechanical Engineering was titled “The Most Profitable and Desirable Crop that Can Be Grown,” referring to hemp. These two excerpts are from that article:
“Hemp, the strongest of the vegetable fibers, gives the greatest production per acre and requires the least attention. It not only requires no weeding, but also kills off all the weeds and leaves the soil in splendid condition for the following crop. . . .
“Recent floods and dust storms have given warnings against the destruction of timber. Possibly, the hitherto waste products of flax and hemp [the woody, cellulose-rich hurds] may yet meet a good part of that need, especially in the plastics field which is growing by leaps and bounds.” (“The Most Profitable and Desirable Crop that Can Be Grown,” by George A. Lowe, Mechanical Engineering, Feb. 26, 1938.)
The Mechanical Engineering article also described several types of machines that American hemp producers were successfully using to harvest and bale the crop, and to separate the long fibers and the hurds in the stalks. The article originated from a paper presented a year earlier at the Agricultural Processing Meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. (Herer, Rev. 1991.)
Those two articles were not the first time in the 1900’s that scientists took note of the enormous potential of hemp as an industrial crop. More than twenty years earlier, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture had published results from experiments they conducted, using hemp hurds to produce what they, and representatives from the paper industry, concluded were commercially viable, good-quality papers.
But at that time, timber pulp was cheap and abundant; the Agriculture Dept. scientists opined that it would be difficult to get paper industries to start using hemp right away to make paper, since the per capita hemp production had fallen sharply in the U.S., compared to what it was in the previous centuries. So, there would not be enough hurd supply to make hemp pulp paper economically feasible.
However, in their reports, “Hemp Hurds as Paper-Making Material” and “The Manufacturing of Paper from Hemp Hurds,” Dept. of Agriculture paper-plant chemist Jason Merrill and fiber-plant botanist Lyster Dewey noted that there would be a need for alternative wood pulp sources in the future, as forests were depleted. Research at that time had found that forests were being cut three times faster than they were growing. The scientists believed that reforestation would prove an inadequate means of replenishing trees, and that eventually, there would be a market for alternative paper pulp sources — especially once more hemp processors acquired machines that had by then been invented to mechanically remove stalk fibers and separate them from the hurds, which had greatly sped up processing of hemp bales. The researchers also noted that a hemp paper industry would become more possible when more roads were built where crops could be transported from the fields to processing mills. (Archive.org – Full text of “1916 USDA Bulletin #404”; Herer, 1991 ed.)
So, historical facts show that by the time hemp cultivation was brought to a halt with the Marihuana Tax Act, many scientists, inventors, businessmen and small farmers had already invested considerable efforts and resources to make industrial hemp a viable raw source for many products. Herer notes in his book that the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, its umbrella agency the Treasury Dept., Hearst and the DuPont Company had mobilized to thwart those efforts.
In DuPont’s 1937 annual report to its stockholders, the company urged investments in its new petrochemical synthetic technologies, which had not been quickly embraced. DuPont stated that it was expecting “radical changes” from “the revenue-raising power of government . . . converted into an instrument of forcing acceptance of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reorganization.” (Herer, 1985; Conrad, 1997; “The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis,” various authors, edited by Julie Holland, MD, Foreword by Lester Grinspoon, MD, 2010.)
American activist Jack Herer, cannabis expert Chris Conrad, and a Canadian activist who contributed segments to The Pot Book (see preceding reference), believe that DuPont’s statements indicated that the company knew that the U.S. federal government was in the process of taking major steps to suppress the growing hemp industry, while giving free range and backing to the petrochemical synthetic materials that DuPont’s scientists had just invented, which were about to be promoted heavily and basically forced upon American society. (Herer, 1985; Conrad, 1997; “The Pot Book,” David Malmo-Levine, 2010.)
When the Popular Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering articles noted above were written, in 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act had not yet been passed; farmers could still grow hemp without heavy regulation. When the articles were published, the details of the Tax Act implementation were still being worked through. But a year later, things were quickly changing.
The June, 1939 issue of Popular Mechanics — one of the two magazines that had heralded the arrival of industrial hemp for manufacturing plastics the year before — was now publishing an article titled “From Test Tube to You,” written by Lammot du Pont, who was then DuPont’s president. Mr. du Pont briefly discusses a number of the recent inventions his company had made, and the consumer products that had been made possible through them.
These two quotes are from du Pont’s article:
“Consider our natural resources. The chemist has aided in conserving natural resources by developing synthetic products to supplement or wholly replace natural products. . . . (“From Test Tube to You,” by Lammot du Pont, Popular Mechanics, June 1939, p. 804.)
“Synthetic plastics find application in fabricating a wide variety of articles, many of which in the past were made from natural products.” (Ibid, p. 805.)
Other articles in that magazine issue discussed advances in public bus safety, air travel, and newly developed methods of getting twice as much gasoline from petroleum and turning refinery waste gases into fuel.
The industrial tide was deliberately being shifted toward fossil fuels. The prospect and promise of annually renewable, abundant, natural hemp fibers, pulp and biofuels had been replaced with synthetic fibers made from non-renewable petroleum and coal tar, petroleum and coal fuels, and massive deforestation of trees that take from several to many decades to grow. The government now made growing hemp a heavily restricted activity, thereby greatly discouraging farmers from growing it.
When Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act, some congressmen stated that as long as the technology didn’t yet exist to measure the precise THC trace content in hemp leaves, growers could not be permitted to freely cultivate the crop — despite the obvious fact that many American companies and people were making their livelihoods from the sale of natural hemp fiber for cord and textiles, seed oil for paints and varnishes, seeds for birds, and last but not least, cannabis-based medicines for many different ailments — some of which had no other cures, such as spasms and seizure disorders.
Farmers who grew hemp gave up those ventures, due to the prohibitive new restrictions: the government now required them to strip the copious leaves off the plants before the stalks could be sold for fiber processing. That translated to much more manual labor, which they could not afford to employ, making growing hemp no longer profitable. And so, a natural, sustainable industry on its way to becoming huge and generating healthy incomes for millions of Americans, was instead choked to death with heavy government regulations and political underhandedness.
Some of the key players who directed the American economy away from renewable raw materials, and toward fossil fuels, had big profits on their minds, of course. But it would seem unkind, and just plain inaccurate, to accuse either the industrialists or the politicians of that day of intentionally leading society down a dead-end street. After all, it would be several decades after the passage of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act before American consumers started experiencing gasoline shortages, and heavy pollution from vehicle exhaust and coal-fired power plants. Climate change concerns were even farther down the line.
During his 11-year tenure as Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon showed a commitment to his country and a strong sense of fairness. He devised and implemented federal tax tables that decreased taxes gradually, as the nation got out of the debt it had incurred during World War I. His plan imposed higher tax rates on investment profits, while taxing low-income families only minimally (their tax rate got down to four percent during Mellon’s time as Treasury Secretary) — even when that meant Mr. Mellon himself had to pay higher taxes. Mellon argued that it was only fair to tax investment windfalls at higher rates, while people who worked for hourly or low wages — “people whose only capital is their mental and physical energy,” as he put it — should not bear a higher tax burden than they are able to withstand. He favored lower taxes for all, as a way to incentivize personal spending and capital investments. (Source: “Taxation: The People’s Business,” Andrew Mellon, 1924, pp. 56-57.) In no way did Andrew Mellon appear to be a person lacking in integrity or moral strength.
Similarly, Harry Anslinger, the FBN commissioner and Mellon’s nephew-in-law, seemed by all accounts to be a strongly patriotic man. Many people would justifiably argue that he got carried away with his militant prohibitionist mindset, especially in view of the fact that the historical record shows that his cannabis prohibition plan was at least partly a tactic to avoid budget cuts to his agency during the Great Depression, once President Franklin Roosevelt ended alcohol prohibition. That said, there is little room to question Mr. Anslinger’s commitment to his country.
It is not unreasonable to conclude that these politicians, and leading businessmen of that era, including Mellon and Lammot du Pont, honestly believed that they were doing a good thing for their country by tapping into fossil fuel reserves that at the time were plentiful, and long before vehicles and power plants that run on these fuels became so numerous that supplies started diminishing and pollution became a problem.
Certainly, with the state of affairs in our time, we now have a pressing, vital need to make enterprises and livelihoods in our local and global economies sustainable. And the more natural the products that we use, the better for all species — including ours.
Low-THC Hemp and High-THC Cannabis Are Two Very Different Crops
So much misinformation has been passed down about hemp for so long, that many people equate even industrial-grade hemp to a drug. But that is completely wrong.
Hemp comes from the same family of plants as so-called marijuana: the cannabis plant. However, the two varieties are very different.
Hemp has very low tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, and is grown for industrial uses. One cannot get “high” from smoking hemp leaves or consuming hemp seeds, hemp-seed oil or hemp extracts, due to their low THC content.
Hemp plants grow very tall and thin, as opposed to marijuana plants (the THC-rich varieties), which grow shorter and bushy. The main purpose of growing hemp is to get the long fibers in the bark, and the hurds — the cellulose-rich, woody cylinder on the inside of the bark, which is ground to a pulp. So, growing the plants tall makes the most sense. THC-rich cannabis varieties, on the other hand, are grown for their foliage (their fiber isn’t nearly as sturdy as that of hemp); the aim, then, is to get them to spread out laterally and absorb the most light.
Hemp fibers have been used for millennia by different cultures for making clothes and cordage, as well as canvas, netting and paper products. The fiber in the hemp bark is the longest, strongest and most durable natural fiber. For textiles, hemp is amazingly versatile: it can be used to make coarse, strong fabrics, or soft fabrics and lace.
Hemp is a hardy crop that can be successfully grown in different climates. It discourages weed growth by choking out weeds and repels insects on its own. So, it is far easier to grow hemp without herbicides or pesticides than other crops more susceptible to infestations, such as cotton, especially when hemp is rotated with other crops. Hemp is outstanding for “conditioning” the soil; its roots grow so deep that they do a great job of aerating the soil for the next crop that’s planted.
In addition, hemp produces four times as much wood pulp for paper per acre than pine trees, and hemp (tree-free) paper can be recycled more times than pine-pulp papers. (Source: HempEthics.Weebly.com.) Hemp paper does not turn yellow or brittle, so it also outperforms tree pulp papers in those categories. Hemp pulp does not require heavy bleaching when paper is made from it, making it the superior choice for decreasing bleach pollution in the water supply substantially — yet another important consideration.
As for hemp’s seeds — they are high in protein, essential fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals; it is not surprising then that they were once the most important staple grain for the Chinese. Before 1937 in the United States, they were the most popular bird feed. Hemp seed oil, high in heart-healthy fats that lower “bad” cholesterol, is taken as a health-promoting nutritional supplement, and a flavor enhancer when drizzled over foods, to this day.
Hemp was the first agricultural crop in many of the colonial United States; until the 20th century, it was also the planet’s largest crop. (HempEthics.Weebly.com.)
With so many uses and advantages over other natural fibers, hemp was a highly prized crop in the U.S. before the federal government ended that with the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. The following historical facts illustrate hemp’s former importance and prevalence in American life:
- From 1600 to the 1890’s, the U.S. government encouraged Americans to grow hemp, which was used to make textiles, clothes, rope and sails for ships
- The canvas used to cover pioneer wagons was made of hemp. (The word “canvas” comes from the Latin word cannabis.)
- In 1619, the Virginia Assembly passed a law requiring every farmer to grow hemp; someone who refused could be jailed
- Three states — Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland — allowed hemp to be exchanged as legal tender (cash!) from the 1600’s until the 1800’s
- George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their private lands
- Benjamin Franklin owned one of the first paper mills in the U.S. — it processed hemp pulp
- The first American flags, including the one made by Betsy Ross, were made from hemp fiber. No other fiber was strong enough to weather the salty moist air on naval ships or remain outdoors for a long time
(Above entries are from the following sources: PBS award-winning investigative series FRONTLINE, “Marijuana Timeline,” PBS.org; ConstitutionCenter.org; USA-flag-site.org; “A tip for American farmers: Grow hemp, make money,” by author, investigative journalist and green farmer Doug Fine, Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, June 25, 2014; “Hemp Bound,” Chelsea Green Publishing website ChelseaGreen.com.)
But in 1937, when medical cannabis was made all but illegal through the Marihuana Tax Act, domestic hemp production virtually disappeared as well, since the hemp plant was now rigorously controlled, just like “marihuana.”
Synthetic fibers and pricier hemp imports replaced domestic hemp cultivation after 1937. However, during World War II, those imports became scarce, and the U.S. government needed more hemp to make parachutes, cords and textiles for the military. So, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture launched its “Hemp for Victory” program, in which the government gave away hemp seeds to farmers and granted draft deferments to men who agreed to grow hemp.
After the war, hemp again became a restricted crop, and production fell sharply again.
Many Americans — farmers, investors, product manufacturers, consumers and environmentalists alike — believe that with today’s ecologic problems created by the use of fossil fuels, and the dwindling supplies of these, hemp would make an excellent, abundant source of natural raw materials, as well as biomass fuels; hemp ethanol is said to burn cleanly. And there are of course the many uses mentioned above.
A number of countries, including China, Canada, England, Australia, Russia and France continue to grow, use and export hemp. The U.S. is only now starting to get back into hemp cultivation that was once the envy of the world. Fifteen states, including California, now have their own laws to govern and protect research hemp crops, as they are appropriately called, being that different seeds are having to be imported from different locations, to match the various American climates.
But not surprisingly, federal agencies have been somewhat at odds with the states’ attempts to get their hemp productions up and running. In June 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized a shipment of Canadian hemp seeds headed for Colorado’s hemp farmers. The month before, the DEA had Customs agents seize a shipment of Italian hemp seeds headed for Kentucky. In both cases, federal authorities had to intervene, to remind their own federal agencies that foreign hemp seed shipments are now allowed to enter the U.S., thanks to a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill signed by Pres. Barack Obama in February of that year. (Doug Fine, 2014.)
The plant is now also being used to make building materials, including particle board and natural, safe insulation for homes. Most of the hemp used in the U.S. right now, for fibers, hemp-seed oil or hemp-infused cosmetics like shampoos and body lotions, is imported from other countries. With importing tariffs, it is much pricier than if it were domestically grown. This hurts not only the hemp product markets, but consumers, who have to pay more for hemp-based goods.
Using modern technologies, cellulose-rich hemp hurds can be turned into more types of plastic than ever before.
Companies that have been making plastics out of hemp in the last two decades find that hemp plastics are versatile, strong, recyclable and biodegradable: they can be used to make thousands of different plastic products, including cling wrap, water bottles, food containers and extra-hard door panels for automobiles. One online retailer of hemp-based products notes that any plastic that is currently made from petroleum can be made from hemp.
With all the hemp goods that could be made using modern technologies, some experts estimate that hemp industries would generate as much as $500 billion to $1 trillion annually for the U.S. economy. (Herer, 2010 ed.; Hemphasis.net.) That’s not including the immeasurable value of providing clean, eco-friendly replacements for fossil fuels and toxic chemicals, and the re-oxygenation of our air by preserving forests while planting such a useful, foliage-rich crop as hemp, which helps to reduce so-called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and can be grown in most climates.
Where Cannabis Laws Stand Currently in the United States
In 1952, strict federal sentencing laws were passed, setting mandatory sentences for drugs, including cannabis. A first-time possession charge carried a minimum sentence of 2 to 10 years. (FRONTLINE, “Marijuana Timeline,” PBS.org.)
In 1970, Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which nullified the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. It also repealed most mandatory minimum drug-related sentences, as it was recognized that they were often unduly harsh. But in 1986, President Ronald Reagan’s administration reinstated mandatory sentences for drug convictions, including cannabis possession. (PBS.org.) In 1996, California voters approved the sale and use of medical cannabis for a few different ailments. Other states then followed, with four now allowing cannabis for recreational use, as well as medical. (California currently only allows medicinal use of cannabis.)
As of this writing, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow doctors to prescribe cannabis. The medical conditions for which it is allowed vary somewhat from state to state.
But under federal law, the cultivation, sale, transport or use of cannabis remain illegal. However, in October 2009, President Barack Obama’s Dept. of Justice announced that it would “not be a priority” to enforce federal laws on medical-cannabis users who were in compliance with state law.
State laws vary widely. In the case of children with seizure disorders, a state might require two doctors to recommend cannabidiol-infused medicines for a child before parents can obtain them. Some states don’t allow doctors to prescribe cannabis medications for any reason. Still others require that the hemp / cannabis extracts used by the child not have more than a small fraction of one percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid that produces the “high,” which means that the parents cannot get the medicine from just any dispensary.
Aside from the challenge of abiding by the irregular maze of state cannabis laws, the medical-cannabis advocacy group Americans for Safe Access claims that the federal government has “acted in bad faith,” as its spokesman put it in an interview posted online, in the stated policy that it would make enforcement of federal drug laws not a priority with respect to medical-cannabis users.
The ASA spokesman has alleged, among other things, that federal authorities continue to use “aggressive” tactics such as SWAT-style raids at medical-cannabis dispensaries, while U.S. attorneys issue threats to producers, distributors and state officials in states where cannabis medicines are allowed. He also stated that many dispensaries are not allowed to deposit money in a bank, automatically making them attractive targets for crimes like theft and robbery.
In addition, according to the ASA, the Obama administration was spending close to $200,000 a day enforcing federal drug laws at medical-cannabis businesses and on cannabis patients, as recently as two years ago. (Source: “Report: State Marijuana Laws Found to Comply with Federal Guidelines,” by Katie Rucke, MintPressNews.com, Nov. 26, 2013.) That’s part of the mind-blowing $2 billion spent annually by the Drug Enforcement Administration policing illegal drug trafficking.
Each year, government agencies in the U.S. perform more than three-quarters of a million cannabis arrests. (“Buzzkill,” The New Yorker magazine, Nov. 2013.) In New York, 113,000 cannabis arrests were conducted in 2012, a higher proportion per capita than any other state. (FBI / USA Today.)
For such startling reasons, medical-cannabis growers and sellers — as well as parents of children with seizures, where this article began — feel that they have to walk on something of a gray area, and they do so with trepidation. Some parents have to flat-out break state (and federal) laws, to bring their children natural, non-toxic medicinal relief from life-threatening, brain-damaging, unrelenting seizures.
The parents of an epileptic child, who were interviewed by Time magazine, told the reporter how very nervous they were while driving home from a state where they had purchased bottles of cannabidiol-infused oil for their youngster. They breathed huge sighs of relief when they finally got home from the long trip across several states’ lines, joyous that no law enforcement officer had pulled them over and inspected their vehicle. The father was quoted as saying that for his child, he was willing to take the risk of making the trip again.
There are more than just a few medical doctors in the United States who strongly believe that cannabis should be allowed as a medicine for anyone who needs it; that it should have never been made illegal, in the first place. One of these doctors is Lester Grinspoon, MD — author, cannabis expert and emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Grinspoon said the following in an article he wrote, published in the Los Angeles Times:
“Cannabis will one day be seen as a wonder drug, as was penicillin in the 1940s. Like penicillin, herbal marijuana is remarkably nontoxic, has a wide range of therapeutic applications and would be quite inexpensive if it were legal. . . .
“Geoffrey Guy, who founded GW Pharmaceuticals*, claims his aim was to keep people who find marijuana useful out of court. There is, of course, a way to do this that would be much less expensive — both economically and in terms of human suffering.” (“Puffing is the best medicine,” by Lester Grinspoon, MD, Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2006.)
(*A British company that makes Sativex, a liquid cannabis medicine for multiple sclerosis spasticity and neuropathic pain, sold on the market for years. The company is currently conducting clinical trials in the U.S., to measure the effectiveness of THC-free cannabidiol extract for childhood seizures. The results of the initial tests last year were promising; but even if the drug gets approval, it would still be a few years away from being sold. In addition, some parents simply prefer a natural compound that’s undergone less processing, as opposed to one that’s been substantially altered in a lab.)
As you read at the beginning of this article, parents of children with seizures already lead harried, difficult lives — not to mention the sometimes relentless suffering that their children are going through. As one pediatric neurologist put it, “these children are fighting for their lives.” It seems rather callous for governments to play politics and take their sweet time in legalizing a medicine that was good enough for the whole world to use for millennia, before politics and special interests got involved, and people who likely meant well but did not have enough information to make certain decisions, made impactful and far-reaching decisions for an entire country.
American governments demand that young children get vaccinated. And we certainly do well to reduce cases of infectious diseases that may be deadly or disabling, and which can be largely prevented with vaccines. However, as many parents have learned the hard way, there are potentially serious risks involved with vaccinations.
One such risk is that of a child suffering a first-ever seizure in connection with, and soon after he or she receives certain vaccines. (Source: “Seizure Risk with Vaccination: The Risk of Seizures After Receipt of Whole-Cell Pertussis or Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccines,” Anne T. Berg, PhD, Epilepsy Currents, January 2002.) Giving parents unrestricted access to cannabinoid extracts for their sick children seems like a very small thing for them to ask for; it would cost the government nothing and it would save children’s lives.
By Cynthia Sanchez. A graduate of the University of Washington, Cynthia has extensive experience writing about health and wellness topics for different media.