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  Debunking The Hemp Conspiracy Theory
Posted by CN Staff on February 21, 2008 at 04:35:15 PT
By Steven Wishnia, AlterNet 
Source: AlterNet  

cannabis USA -- Scratch a pothead and ask them why marijuana is outlawed, and there's a good chance you'll get some version of the "hemp conspiracy" theory. Federal pot prohibition, the story goes, resulted from a plot by the Hearst and DuPont business empires to squelch hemp as a possible competitor to wood-pulp paper and nylon. These allegations can be found anywhere from Wikipedia entries on William Randolph Hearst and the DuPont Company to comments on pot-related articles published here on AlterNet. And these allegations are virtually unchallenged; many people fervently believe in the hemp conspiracy, even though the evidence to back it up evaporates under even minimal scrutiny.

You could make a stronger case for Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin of John F. Kennedy; Oswald at least left a not-quite-smoking gun at the scene.

Pot activist Jack Herer's book The Emperor Wears No Clothes is the prime source for the hemp-conspiracy theory. It alleges that in the mid-1930s, "when the new mechanical hemp fiber stripping machines to conserve hemp's high-cellulose pulp finally became state of the art, available and affordable," Hearst, with enormous holdings in timber acreage and investments in paper manufacturing, "stood to lose billions of dollars and perhaps go bankrupt." Meanwhile, DuPont in 1937 had just patented nylon and "a new sulfate/sulfite process for making paper from wood pulp" -- so "if hemp had not been made illegal, 80 percent of DuPont's business would never have materialized."

Herer, a somewhat cantankerous former marijuana-pipe salesman, deserves a lot of credit for his cannabis activism. He was a dedicated grass-roots agitator for pot legalization during the late 1980s, perhaps the most herb-hostile time in recent history. Despite a substantial stroke in 2001, he soldiers on; he's currently campaigning to get a cannabis-legalization initiative on the ballot in Santa Barbara, California. The Emperor -- an omnivorous conglomeration of newspaper clippings and historical documents about hemp and marijuana, held together by Herer's cannabis evangelism and fiery screeds against prohibition -- has been a bible for many pot activists.

Unearthing a 1916 Department of Agriculture bulletin about hemp paper and a World War II short film that exhorted American farmers to grow "Hemp for Victory," Herer more than anyone else revived the idea that the cannabis plant was useful for purposes besides getting high. Unfortunately, he's completely wrong on this particular issue. The evidence for a "hemp conspiracy" just doesn't stand up. It is far more likely that marijuana was outlawed because of racism and cultural warfare.

How Marijuana Was Prohibited

Twentieth-century cannabis prohibition first reared its head in countries where white minorities ruled black majorities: South Africa, where it's known as dagga, banned it in 1911, and Jamaica, then a British colony, outlawed ganja in 1913. They were followed by Canada, Britain and New Zealand, which added cannabis to their lists of illegal narcotics in the 1920s. Canada's pot law was enacted in 1923, several years before there were any reports of people actually smoking it there. It was largely the brainchild of Emily F. Murphy, a feminist but racist judge who wrote anti-Asian, anti-marijuana rants under the pseudonym "Janey Canuck."

In the United States, marijuana prohibition began partly as a throw-in on laws restricting opiates and cocaine to prescription-only use, and partly in Southern and Western states and cities where blacks and Mexican immigrants were smoking it. Missouri outlawed opium and hashish dens in 1889, but did not actually prohibit cannabis until 1935.

Massachusetts began restricting cannabis in its 1911 pharmacy law, and three other New England states followed in the next seven years.

California's 1913 narcotics law banned possession of cannabis preparations -- which California NORML head Dale Gieringer believes was a legal error, that the provision was intended to parallel those affecting opium, morphine and cocaine. The law was amended in 1915 to ban the sale of cannabis without a prescription. "Thus hemp pharmaceuticals remained technically legal to sell, but not possess, on prescription!" Gieringer wrote in The Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in California. "There are no grounds to believe that this prohibition was ever enforced, as hemp drugs continued to be prescribed in California for years to come." In 1928, the state began requiring hemp farmers to notify law enforcement about their crops.

New York City made cannabis prescription-only in 1914, part to pre-empt users of over-the-counter opium, morphine and cocaine medicines from switching to cannabis preparations, but with allusions to hashish use by Middle Eastern immigrants. In the West and Southwest, anti-Mexican sentiment quickly came into play. California's first marijuana arrests came in a Mexican neighborhood in Los Angeles in 1914, according to Gieringer, and the Los Angeles Times said "sinister legends of murder, suicide and disaster" surrounded the drug. The city of El Paso, Texas, outlawed reefer in 1915, two years after a Mexican thug, "allegedly crazed by habitual marijuana use," killed a cop. By the time Prohibition was repealed in 1933, 30 states had some form of pot law.

The campaign against cannabis heated up after Repeal. "I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents," a Colorado newspaper editor wrote in 1936. "The fatal marihuana cigarette must be recognized as a DEADLY DRUG, and American children must be PROTECTED AGAINST IT," the Hearst newspapers editorialized.

Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, headed the charge. "If the hideous monster Frankenstein came face to face with the monster marihuana, he would drop dead of fright," he thundered in 1937.

An ambitious racist (a 1934 memo described an informant as a "ginger-colored nigger") who had previously been federal assistant Prohibition commissioner, Anslinger railed against reefer in magazine articles like 1937's "Marihuana: Assassin of Youth." It featured gory stories like that of Victor Licata, a once "sane, rather quiet young man" from Tampa, Fla., who'd killed his family with an axe in 1933, after becoming "pitifully crazed" from smoking "muggles." (Actually, the Tampa police had tried to have Licata committed to a mental hospital before he started smoking pot.)

Anslinger's other theme was that white girls would be ruined once they'd experienced the lurid pleasures of having a black man's joint in their mouth. "Colored students at the Univ. of Minn. partying with female students (white) smoking and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution," he noted. "Result, pregnancy."

In 1937, after a very cursory debate, Congress enacted the Marihuana Tax Act, levying a prohibitive $100-an-ounce tax on cannabis. "I believe in some cases one cigarette might develop a homicidal mania," Anslinger testified in a hearing on the bill.

The Case Against The "Hemp Conspiracy"

The hemp-conspiracy theory blames that law on Hearst and DuPont's plot to suppress hemp paper and cloth. The theory is that the invention of a hemp processor known as the "decorticator" made it easier, faster and much more cost-effective to extract hemp fiber from the stalks. In February 1938, Popular Mechanics hailed hemp as the "New Billion Dollar Crop." In response, Hearst and DuPont, scared by the prospect of hemp's resurrection as a competitor for their products, schemed to eliminate the plant.

However, The Emperor makes only three specific claims to support that theory. One is the anti-marijuana propagandizing of the Hearst newspapers. Second, it claims that Anslinger's anti-pot crusade was on behalf of Pittsburgh banker Andrew Mellon, who supposedly was DuPont's "chief financial backer," lending the company the funds it needed to purchase General Motors in the 1920s.

And finally, The Emperor argues that DuPont anticipated the Marihuana Tax Act in its 1937 annual report, which worried that the company's future was "clouded with uncertainties" -- specifically about "the extent to which the revenue-raising power of government may be converted into an instrument for forcing acceptance of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reorganization."

None of these claims stand up.

Claim 1: Hearst The Propagandist

According to W.A. Swanberg's extensive biography Citizen Hearst, the Hearst chain was actually the nation's largest purchaser of newsprint -- and when the price rose from $40 a ton to over $50 in the late 1930s, he fell so deep in debt to Canadian paper producers and banks that he had to sell his prized art collection to avert foreclosure. "It therefore seems that it would have been in Hearst's interest to promote cheap hemp paper substitutes, had that been a viable alternative," Dale Gieringer wrote in his article, calling the hemp-conspiracy theory "fanciful" and a "myth."

In any case, the Hearst papers never needed hidden self-interest to trumpet fiendish menaces. The expression "yellow journalism" comes from Hearst's campaign for a war against Spain in 1898. And from the 1930s on, his papers were finding RED SUBVERSIVES and PINKO FELLOW-TRAVELERS under every bed. In 1935, a University of Chicago professor accused of being a Communist by the Hearst-owned Herald-Examiner told the Nation that the reporter covering him had admitted, "We do just what the Old Man orders. One week he orders a campaign against rats. The next week he orders a campaign against dope peddlers. Pretty soon he's going to campaign against college professors. It's all the bunk, but orders are orders."

Claim 2: The Anslinger-Mellon Connection

There was an Anslinger-Mellon connection. Anslinger was appointed to head the Bureau of Narcotics by Andrew Mellon, his wife's uncle, who was treasury secretary in the Herbert Hoover administration. However, it's unlikely that DuPont needed to borrow money to buy GM in the 1920s, as the company had done very well as the leading manufacturer of explosives for the Allied forces during World War I.

Historians find no evidence of a DuPont-Mellon connection either. "General Motors was historically associated with the Morgan group during that period," Mark Mizruchi, a professor of sociology and business administration at the University of Michigan, told me in an email interview in 2003. Sociologist G. William Domhoff of the University of California at Santa Cruz, author of Who Rules America?, concurred, saying it was safe to state there was no connection. And in the 440-page tome considered the definitive account of American banking and corporate finance during the Depression era, Mizruchi added, Japanese historian Tian Kang Go does not mention "even the smallest financial connection between DuPont and Mellon."

Claim 3: Dubious DuPont Claims

The argument that DuPont's 1937 complaint about federal taxes had anything to do with hemp is an extremely dubious stretch. If the company had been talking about the government eliminating a competitor by levying a prohibitive tax, it wouldn't have been worrying about the uncertainty of foreseeing new federal imposts. It would have been celebrating its newly cleared path. Given the context of the times, it's almost certain that this statement was merely typical 1930s corporate-class whining about the New Deal's social programs and business regulations -- akin to current corporate-class complaints about government "social engineering."

Prohibition's Racist History

The belief that marijuana prohibition came about because of the secret machinations of an economic cabal ignores the pattern of every drug-law crusade in American history.

From the 19th-century campaigns against opium and alcohol to the crack panic of the 1980s, they have all been fueled by racism and cultural war, conflated with fear of crime and occasionally abetted by well-intentioned reform impulses. (The financial self-interest of the prison-industrial complex has been a more recent development.)

The first drug-prohibition laws in the United States were opium bans aimed at Chinese immigrants. San Francisco outlawed opium in 1875, and the state of California followed six years later. In 1886, an Oregon judge ruled that the state's opium prohibition was constitutional even if it proceeded "more from a desire to vex and annoy the 'Heathen Chinee'… than to protect the people from the evil habit," notes Doris Marie Provine in Unequal Under Law: Race in the War on Drugs. In How the Other Half Lives, journalist Jacob Riis wrote of opium-addicted white prostitutes seduced by the "cruel cunning" of Chinese men.

The path to the 1914 federal narcotics law that limited cocaine and opioids to medical use -- and was almost immediately interpreted as prescribing narcotics to addicts -- was more complex. The main rationale was ending the over-the-counter sale of patent medicines such as heroin cough syrup, but there was a definite racist streak among advocates for controlling cocaine. "Cocaine is often the direct incentive to the crime of rape by the Negroes," Hamilton Wright, the hard-drinking doctor-turned-diplomat who spearheaded the first major multinational drug-control agreements, told Congress. In 1914, Dr. Edward Huntington Williams opined in the New York Times Magazine that "once the negro has formed the habit, he is irreclaimable. The only method to keep him from taking the drug is by imprisoning him."

The movement to prohibit alcohol was part puritanical, part racist. In the big cities, it was anti-immigrant. Bishop James Cannon of the Anti-Saloon League in 1928 denounced Italians, Poles and Russian Jews as "the kind of dirty people that you find today on the sidewalks of New York," while in 1923, Imogen Oakley of the General Federation of Women's Clubs described the Irish, Germans, and others as "insoluble lumps of unassimilated and unassimilable peoples … 'wet' by heredity and habit." In the South, it was anti-black. "The disenfranchisement of Negroes is the heart of the movement in Georgia and throughout the South for the Prohibition of the liquor traffic," Georgia prohibitionist A.J. McKelway wrote in 1907. "Liquor will actually make a brute out of a negro, causing him to commit unnatural crimes," Alabama Rep. Richmond P. Hobson told Congress in 1914, a year after he'd sponsored the first federal Prohibition bill. (He said it had the same effect on white men, but took longer because they were "further evolved.")

Prohibitionism was an early example of fundamentalist Christians' political strength. The midpoint of William Jennings Bryan's odyssey from the prairie populist of 1896 to the evolution foe of 1925 was his endorsement of Prohibition in 1910. The rural puritans were abetted by middle-class do-gooders who, when they saw a slum-dwelling factory hand come home drunk and beat his wife, would blame the saloon instead of the pressures of capitalist exploitation or the license of misogyny. And many industrial employers, including DuPont's gunpowder division, demanded abstinent workers. World War I's austerity was the final piece of the puzzle.

Prohibitionists played key roles in the campaign to outlaw cannabis. Harry Anslinger had been so hardline that he advocated prosecuting individual users for possession of alcohol. (Federal Prohibition, unlike the current marijuana laws, only banned sales, allowed personal possession and limited home brewing, and had an exemption for medical use.) Richmond P. Hobson, who crusaded against drugs in the 1920s as head of the World Narcotic Defense Association, was an early advocate of marijuana prohibition. In 1931, he told the federal Wickersham Commission that marijuana used in excess "motivates the most atrocious acts." And in early 1936, the General Federation of Women's Clubs joined Anslinger's campaign to make reefers verboten.

In a country that was puritanical and racist enough in 1919 to outlaw alcohol in 1919, forbidding cannabis was politically very easy. Alcohol had been the most pervasive recreational drug in the Western world for millennia.

Marijuana was virtually unknown. And though Prohibitionists -- like the immigration laws of the 1920s, the resurgent Ku Klux Klan, and the 1928 presidential campaign against Irish Catholic Democrat Al Smith -- demonized whiskey-sodden Micks, wine-soaked wops, traitorous beer-swilling Krauts and liquor-selling Jew shopkeepers, at least those people were sort of white. Marijuana was used mainly by Mexican immigrants and African-Americans.

The Nixon-era escalation of the war on drugs was one of the few times in U.S. history when white users were a prime target, as marijuana and LSD provided legal pretexts to attack the '60s counterculture. Richard Nixon's White House tapes captured him in 1971 growling that "every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish." But Nixon and other law-and-order politicians were most successful when they lumped youthful cultural-political rebellion and black militance with ghetto heroin addiction and the rising crime of the 1970s. New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws, passed in 1973 as Gov. Nelson Rockefeller was trying to look "tough on crime," were a harbinger of the federal mandatory minimums of the 1980s. The result was that more than 90 percent of the state's drug prisoners are black or Latino.

The crack hysteria of the late 1980s was another example of the fear of dark-skinned demons breeding racially repressive law enforcement. Both federal and many state crack laws were designed to snare street dealers and bottom-level distributors, giving them the same penalties as powder-cocaine wholesalers. The racial results were obvious almost immediately. In overwhelmingly white Minnesota, more than 90 percent of the people convicted of possession of crack in 1988-89 were black. In the early 1990s, the U.S. Attorney's office in Southern California went more than five years without prosecuting a white person for crack.

That pattern still holds: In 2003, 81 percent of the defendants sentenced on crack charges nationwide were black. And law enforcement didn't spare the African-American innocent. In an August 1988 drug raid on an apartment block on Dalton Avenue in South Central Los Angeles, 88 city cops smashed walls and furniture with sledgehammers and axes, beat people with flashlights, and poured bleach on residents' clothes -- and arrested two teenagers who didn't live there on minor drug charges.

Why Do People Believe It?

Why, then, do so many people believe in the "hemp conspiracy"? First, it's the influence of The Emperor Wears No Clothes; many people inspired to cannabis activism by Jack Herer's hemp-can-save-the-world vision and passionate denunciations of pot prohibition buy into the whole "conspiracy against marijuana" package. Another is that many stoners love a good conspiracy theory; secret cabals are simpler and sexier villains than sociopolitical forces. The conspiracist worldview, a hybrid of the who-really-killed-the-Kennedys suspicions of the '60s left and the Bilderbergs-and-Illuminati demonology of the far right, is especially common in rural areas and among pothead Ron Paul supporters. Most people don't have the historical or political knowledge to dispute a conspiracist flood of detailed half-truths.

Counterculture people who see the evil done by corporations and politicians are often quick to believe that they are thus guilty of anything and everything -- that because the CIA tried to kill Fidel Castro with an exploding cigar, it's therefore indisputable that it killed Bob Marley by giving him boots booby-trapped with a carcinogen-tipped wire. Witness the multitudes who zealously argue that because George W. Bush gained a political advantage from the 9/11 attacks and told a thousand lies to justify the war in Iraq, it's proof that his operatives planted explosives in the World Trade Center and set them off an hour or so after the planes hit.

The Bush administration's attempt to link buying herb to "supporting terrorism" proved more laughable than lasting. Yet the racism-culture war combination is still very potent. Among the 360,000 arrests for marijuana possession in New York City between 1997 and 2006, the decade when mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg turned the city into the nation's pot-bust capital, 84 percent of the people popped were black or Latino, mostly young men. And the oft-cited statistic that there are more black men in prison than in college should be the equivalent of a doctor's warning that the nation has a cholesterol level approaching Jerry Garcia's after years on a diet of ice cream, cigarettes and heroin.

Steven Wishnia is the author of "Exit 25 Utopia," "The Cannabis Companion" and "Invincible Coney Island." He lives in New York.

Newshawk: Sinsemilla Jones
Source: AlterNet (US)
Author: Steven Wishnia, AlterNet
Published: February 21, 2008
Copyright: 2008 Independent Media Institute

Jack Herer

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Comment #34 posted by ekim on February 27, 2008 at 18:31:40 PT
Jack i tryied sending this to the hempjack
please see this about tech--

today Gov Jenny Gramholm took calls for a hour in MI on public radio-- says we need to use fast growing grasses for cellulose ethanol -- wish someone can get thur to her and ask about hemp --

the next story is about water -- what a smart woman she needs to be listened to about how we are misusing our water

Bayer Crop Science Executive Sees Bright Future Mike Deall says technology is the key to feeding the world. Bill Spiegel (February 27, 2008) Blue Covenant: Maude Barlow on the Global Movement for Water Justice Maude Barlow is the head of the Council of Canadians, Canada’s largest public advocacy organization, and founder of the Blue Planet Project. Barlow is author of the new book Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #33 posted by kaptinemo on February 23, 2008 at 14:37:41 PT:

How much evidence do we need?
How many crumpled bodies, smoking guns, hot silencers, empty pistol and rifle brass, bloody knives and clubs, vials of cyanide, etc. do we need to produce to definitively say that a prior conspiracy to commit murder existed? Especially after the fact?

How many 'coincidental' confluences of competing technologies (highly monopolized petrochemical vs. highly decentralized agrarian-based ) have to occur...before they are acknowledged?

How many relationships (by marriage, no less!) between those who stood to benefit greatly from the forceful exclusion by law of cannabis-based products from the market - and those who were in a position of political power to make that law happen - have to be disclosed before they are accepted as fact?

So, who are we to believe? Mr. Wishnia or our 'lying eyes'? By Mr. Wishnia's reasoning, the fact that nearly the entire Bush Cabinet is composed of Big Oil mucky-mucks, who stood to gain enormously from the price destabilization of the oil market caused by the Iraq War, is not worth considering as to how and why we invaded Iraq. Likewise for the secret Cheney Energy Committee with its' maps of Iraq showing the oil fields and the foreign companies developing them, months before 9/11. Just ignore that, folks, nothing to see, move along...

If you're fundamentally incapable of associating the repeated pain in your rectum you've been feeling lately with the evilly-smiling crowd hovering around your backside at the time the pain occurs, then you're stupid. If you won't, well, then...what can I say?

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #32 posted by Hope on February 23, 2008 at 10:24:46 PT
Mr. Herer
It is wonderful to see you posting to CannabisNews. We're honored.

It's difficult to understand why this article claims to be a "debunking" of any of the facts you have gathered and presented so well.

We do, definitely, need to point out the racist stupidity behind the present prohibition, apparently, over and over again.... but I certainly do not see the necessity to "debunk" other known facts in order to do so.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #31 posted by FoM on February 23, 2008 at 09:52:38 PT
It is wonderful to see you post here. You are one of very few heroes that I have. Thank you for all you are doing and all you have done.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #30 posted by hempjack on February 23, 2008 at 09:36:10 PT:

The Toxic Alternative to Natural Fibers
The late 1920s and 1930s saw continuing consolidation of power into the hands of a few large steel, oil and chemical (munitions) companies. The U.S. federal government placed much of the textile production for the domestic economy in the hands of its chief munitions maker, DuPont.

The processing of nitrating cellulose into explosives is very similar to the process for nitrating cellulose into synthetic fibers and plastics. Rayon, the first synthetic fiber, is simply stabilized guncotton, or nitrated cloth, the basic explosive of the 19th century.

“Synthetic plastics find application in fabricating a wide variety of articles, many of which in the past were made from natural products,” beamed Lammot DuPont (Popular Mechanics, June 1939).

“Consider our natural resources,” the president of DuPont continued, “The chemist has aided in conserving natural resources by developing synthetic products to supplement or wholly replace natural products.”

DuPont’s scientists were the world’s leading researchers into the processes of nitrating cellulose and were in fact the largest processor of cellulose in the nation in this era.

The February 1938 Popular Mechanics article stated “Thousands of tons of hemp hurds are used every year by one large powder company for the manufacture of dynamite and TNT.” History shows that DuPont had largely cornered the market in explosives by buying up and consolidating the smaller blasting companies in the late 1800s. By 1902 it controlled about two-thirds of industry output.

They were the largest powder company, supplying 40% of the munitions for the allies in WWI. As cellulose and fiber researchers, DuPont’s chemists knew hemp’s true value better than anyone else. The value of hemp goes far beyond line fibers; although recognized for linen, canvas, netting and cordage, these long fibers are only 20% of the hemp stalk’s weight. Eighty percent of the hemp is in the 77% cellulose hurd, and this was the most abundant, cleanest resource of cellulose (fiber) for paper, plastics and even rayon.

The empirical evidence in this book shows that the federal government – through the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act – allowed this munitions maker to supply synthetic fibers for the domestic economy without competition. The proof of a successful conspiracy among these corporate and governing interests is simply this: in 1997 DuPont was still the largest producer of man-made fibers, while no American citizen has legally harvested a single acre of textile grade hemp in over 60 years (except during the period of WWII).

An almost unlimited tonnage of natural fiber and cellulose would have become available to the American farmer in 1937, the year DuPont patented Nylon and the polluting wood-pulp paper sulfide process. All of hemp’s potential value was lost.

Simple plastics of the early 1900s were made of nitrated cellulose, directly related to DuPont’s munitions-making process. Celluloid, acetate and rayon were the simple plastics of that era, and hemp was well known to cellulose researchers as the premier resource for this new industry to use. Worldwide, the raw material of simple plastics, rayon and paper could be best supplied by hemp hurds.

Nylon fibers were developed between 1926-1937 by the noted Harvard chemist Wallace Carothers, working from German patents. These polyamides are long fibers based on observed natural products. Carothers, supplied with an open-ended research grant from DuPont, made a comprehensive study of natural cellulose fibers. He duplicated natural fibers in his labs and polyamides – long fibers of a specific chemical process – were developed. (Curiously, Wallace Carothers committed suicide in April of 1937, one week after the House Ways and Means Committee had the hearings on cannabis and created the bill that would eventually outlaw hemp.)

Coal tar and petroleum-based chemicals were employed, and different devices, spinnerets and processes were patented. This new type of textile, Nylon, was to be controlled from the raw material stage, as coal, to the completed product: a patented chemical product. The chemical company centralized the production and profits of the new “miracle” fiber. The introduction of Nylon, the introduction of high-volume machinery to separate hemp’s long fiber from the cellulose hurd, and the outlawing of hemp as “marijuana” all occurred simultaneously.

The new man-made fibers (MMFs) can best be described as war material. The fiber-making process has become one based on big factories, smokestacks, coolants and hazardous chemicals, rather than one of stripping out the abundant, naturally available fibers.

Coming from a history of making explosives and munitions, the old “chemical dye plants” now produce hosiery, mock linens, mock canvas, latex paint and synthetic carpets. Their polluting factories make imitation leather, upholstery and wood surfaces, while an important part of the natural cycle stands outlawed.

The standard fiber of world history, America’s traditional crop, hemp, could provide our textiles and paper and be the premier source for cellulose. The war industries – DuPont, Allied Chemical, Monsanto, etc., - are protected from competition by the marijuana laws. They made war on the natural cycle and the common farmer.

By Shan Clark


Encyclopedia of Textiles, 3rd Edition by the editors of American Fabrics and Fashions Magazine, William C. Legal, Publisher Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1980; The Emergence of Industrial America Strategic Factors in American Economic Growth Since 1870, Peter George State University, NY; DuPont (a corporate autobiography published periodically by E.I. DuPont De Nemours and Co., Inc., Wilmington, DE.; The Blasting Handbook, E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Co., Inc., Wilmington, DE; Mechanical Engineering Magazine, Feb. 1938; Popular Mechanics, Feb 1938; Journal of Applied Polymer Science, Vol. 47, 1984; Polyamides, the Chemistry of Long Molecules (author unknown); U.S. Patent #2,071,250 (Feb. 16, 1937), W.H. Carothers; DuPont Dynasties, Jerry Colby; The American Peoples Encyclopedia, the Sponsor Press, Chicago, 1953. (The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Chapter 4)

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Comment #29 posted by Hope on February 23, 2008 at 08:17:13 PT
"With this memorable lie, the bill passed, and became law in December, 1937."

It's stunning what prohibitionists were able to build on a foundation of lies and shore up for all these years... with lies and more lies.

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Comment #28 posted by unkat27 on February 23, 2008 at 03:36:52 PT
I have to wonder
Is considering selling out to Hearst/Dupont?

I know it seems like an absurd notion, but if is like so many capitalist companies, despite its apparent left-leaning alternative reporting, it might sell out for a big enough price, and it would be a nice piece of alternative media for a corporate giant like Hearst/Dupont to control.

In fact, its just the kind of alternative news website that big pig corporations are looking to buy out and assimilate all the time, just so they can start feeding the antiwar left-wingers some of their clever propaganda, to turn them around to their way of thinking.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #27 posted by ekim on February 22, 2008 at 21:19:21 PT
Fom dont want to barg in -- just a response - bye
hey Paint with light -- neat thing-- i bet the report was a govt one to boot and you might be able to copy it or put it on utoba

you know that with out Jack i dont think that i would have seen this on the AMA--

thanks to Steve for setting this up--

“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.3

* The AMA and the Roosevelt Administration were strong antagonists in 1937.

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.

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Comment #26 posted by FoM on February 22, 2008 at 20:52:12 PT
I don't think we have anymore places on our surround sound DVD Player to connect to the new player. We have DirectTV using those plug ins. The tv has more but not the surround sound system. I'll show Stick your comment and if he has a little time he might be able to figure it out. Thank you.

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Comment #25 posted by Dankhank on February 22, 2008 at 20:08:55 PT
sound out ...
you probably have audio out jacks on your flatpanel, standard red/white cables to your receiver "audio in"

I've always been a sound freak ...

we've had "home theatre" since the mid-70's ... as soon as I figured how to take an out signal from a TV and get it to my stereo.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #24 posted by FoM on February 22, 2008 at 18:44:40 PT
We watched Roger Waters The Wall, Live in Berlin. I saw things that I never noticed before. I haven't figured out how to connect it to my surround sound system yet. We have a friend that should be able to figure it out for us.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #23 posted by Dankhank on February 22, 2008 at 18:08:28 PT
HD ....
we're waiting, too ...

almost bought a HD DVD player last Christmas ... now they're going away ...

it's a good idea to wait till everything shakes out ...

if you got a HDMI cable for the phillips, regular DVD should look pretty good ...

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Comment #22 posted by FoM on February 22, 2008 at 17:51:22 PT
I am really happy that we will be able to watch it on the TV. We aren't going to get HD right now. I have read about problems and I had enough of them with HughesNet. We'll wait until the bugs are out. I'm doing computer updates and I think I have everything current. I'm also turning off and uninstalling stuff too. I hope I am not missing any news articles.

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Comment #21 posted by Dankhank on February 22, 2008 at 16:39:28 PT
phillips ...
a good machine ... the DivX capability is the best ...

the series, glad you can watch it

this makes dwnlding stuff easier, can just get smaller DivX stuff and watch it in own living room ...

super cool .....

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Comment #20 posted by FoM on February 22, 2008 at 09:31:29 PT
I couldn't find our old thread I was looking for but I wanted to mention a couple things to you. I got a Philips DVP3960. Do you remember when you sent me that series? It plays now on my TV! Now we will be able to watch it. I got my new computer last night and it is nice. I like all the bells and whistles. My old computer was just plain. I didn't realize how noisy my old computer was until this new one. It is so quiet I can't believe it. My Franklin CDU 550 works with no trouble too. If I miss an article it is because I am getting used to this new computer. I hope I don't.

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Comment #19 posted by Celaya on February 22, 2008 at 07:37:11 PT
Sinsemilla Jones
"federal marijuana prohibition has had the total opposite effects of its supposed intentions is absolutely phenomenal."

As in so many things with the most corrupt government this country has seen, the word "supposed" is likely hiding a herd of elephants.

Suppose Drug Czar Walters (and those he represents) had to choose between a world with marijuana and one without. Which do you think they would choose? If marijuana use were to suddenly disappear, it would have the same effect on them as marijuana legalization. They would be out of a job.

I submit they love marijuana. It gives them a great tool of oppression to directly use against half the population and a pretext to make laws that oppress everyone. Not to mention a great source of funding for black ops and corrupt pals overseas.

Things are exactly the way they want them to be.

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Comment #18 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on February 22, 2008 at 04:58:26 PT
Which Dick
I finally realized what you were asking Dankhank, lol.

Nixon envisioned "The New Dick" as his comeback slogan in a Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin.

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Comment #17 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on February 22, 2008 at 04:42:33 PT
Dankhank - That Dick was fun, too!
All the Dicks have been entertaining. The tragic Dicks. The comic Dicks. The serio-comic Dicks. Even the real Dick. And all of Dick's little Dicks. From SNL to Futurama to Dick, Secret Honor, Nixon, to the Watergate Tapes themselves.

I got distracted just reading transcripts when I went looking for a Nixon quote for this thread, and found a site with recordings and transcripts of The Watergate Tapes -

Nixon: What I mean is, you could, you could get a million dollars. And you could get it in cash. I, I know where it could be gotten.

"You Suck, Dick!"

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Comment #16 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on February 22, 2008 at 03:50:02 PT
What did the federal law accomplish?
"By the time Prohibition was repealed in 1933, 30 states had some form of pot law."

But as the author notes, these state laws did not affect prescription cannabis nor hemp cultivation.

Despite promises to the hemp industry and despite warnings from the AMA, the initial thrust of the federal Marijuana Tax Act was against hemp farmers and medically prescribed cannabis preparations.

And while the federal government has succeeded in completely prohibiting hemp farming in the USA and the actual prescribing of medical marijuana, the recreational use of cannabis that it was supposedly intended to hinder has instead literally exploded.

In fact, the AMA testified before Congress in 1937 that there was hardly any use of marijuana at all by school children, yet after 4 decades of federal prohibition, half of high school seniors had tried marijuana.

And while no one would argue that federal legislation often has unintended consequences and even exacerbates problems, the way that federal marijuana prohibition has had the total opposite effects of its supposed intentions is absolutely phenomenal.

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Comment #15 posted by Celaya on February 21, 2008 at 23:29:27 PT
Ultimately, it doesn't much matter how marijuana prohibition began. After 80 years, it's more of a historical carbuncle than anything else. When it came time to end slavery, did it matter how the practice began? Did they argue about who started it? I never read where they did.

The main point to draw from prohibition's history is there was never a good reason to persecute innocent consumers.

What impresses me is the great forum that has sprung up in the comments section after this article at Alternet. It's clear the people are ready for this injustice to end. Hopefully, it will still matter what the people want.

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Comment #14 posted by Paint with light on February 21, 2008 at 23:27:40 PT
The elephant
It is a rope. It is a snake. It is a tree. However it got to be, it is an elephant.

Whether the history of MJ prohibition in the US is a result ot corporate or cultural contrivance, it is co-causal contemporarily.

Which is the larger cause of the continuing war on MJ?

Corporate? Liquor, Pharma, or Law Enforcement industries(drug testing, legal, etc), or Class? The two biggesst determinants of whether a person goes to jail for a drug crime is their wealth and their color.

I thought when Nixon's hand picked National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse suggested that Marihuana be decriminalized it would be all over. Boy, was I wrong. I've still got a paperback copy of that report I bought in 1972 for $1.25 new.

I still think education is the key to winning for our side, but we have to do a better job of staying on the basics of why it is wrong to keep the laws as they are.

I used to post at the Kerry site with the slogan, "Equal with alcohol is all we ask."

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Comment #13 posted by JohnO on February 21, 2008 at 21:48:58 PT:

Steven Wishnia has been reading too many Gerald Posner books. I must say his research was nearly complete, but I'm not at all certain how he can come to these conclusions. This is reminiscent of the Posner book on the JFK conspiracy, "Case Closed." The tactic is this, take all the facts, lay them out in long drawn out boring detail, then separate them one by one from each other. The facts can be rearranged so that their inter-connectivity is hard to follow. You can then call it a mystery too difficult to understand, and divert the focus onto one small piece of the puzzle as the sole reason for the issue, ridicule all other conclusions and call it a day. There is no doubt whatever that racism and class warfare was and remains the prime motivation for the lawmakers to enact drug laws. But it stretches reality to say that DuPont, Hearst and others did not have their own commercial interests in mind when pushing the buttons of those who could be swayed by racist propaganda. It seems that the underlying commercial motivation has been ignored because the buttons, once pushed, had gross racial undertones that are offensive to The author. A similar thing happened with the Warren report. The witnesses told their stories, the facts were all laid on the table and despite hundreds of sworn statements to the contrary, Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman. The truth is, many factors combined to bring us to where we are, each separate fragment of information cannot be polarized to repel each other. Rather, they are more like mixed up pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, to be carefully examined and placed properly in order to see the clear picture. So many want it all to be so simple, with an easy solution, I myself wish it were so. Racism was indeed integral to the institution of the myriad of drug and alcohol prohibitions we have endured, but it was not the root of the problem. I admit it took me hours to read that section about unveiling the hemp conspiracy, try as I might it didn't make any sense. The poor farmers of the Midwest were indeed desperate enough to take hemp seriously as the new billion dollar crop. The depression, dust bowl crop failures were very severe, so much so that they would have done anything to keep their lands. The difference is that WR Hearst with exactly that same motivation had the means to make it happen for himself, where the poor farmers did not. Hearst, poor fellow sold his art collection to finance business, I myself sold a prized gun collection for the same reasons back in 1995 and I would do it again if I had to, because I am motivated to succeed. The article's mention of the art sale is not important to the larger point but a mere diversion of focus. It never rang true that Hearst or DuPont are innocent and pure as the wind driven snow, any more than it makes sense that Oswald shot two men from three separate locations at the same time. You must always follow the money, if Hearst did not have anything to lose, he would not have directed or authored race baiting editorials to eliminate competition from potential hemp farmers. Hearst cannot be exonerated simply by claiming Anslinger was the racist and sole culprit. Anslinger himself can take no small part of the blame of course, since he had been assistant commissioner of (alcohol) prohibition, while during the roaring twenties the golden age of US law enforcement agencies matured into an undeniable force which could not be ignored. With the repeal of that debacle looming, what's a good G man to do, retire and dismantle a perfectly good government program? Hell no! Yes he did preach racist rhetoric to perpetuate himself as the answer to all perceived social ills just as Wishnia pointed out, however, are we to believe he accomplished marijuana prohibition all by himself simply out of racist motivation? That's a pretty simple conclusion to a complicated issue. Unfortunately today the mere charge of racism whether true or perceived is too easily used as a sock in the mouth of all other points of view. Whether that is good or bad, I will allow others decide, but it will not serve us well to add more confusion to an already messed up situation. My question is why cover up for corporate greed, who gains from that? I say that Steve Wishnia is a False Prophet.


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Comment #12 posted by unkat27 on February 21, 2008 at 15:47:30 PT
I don't get it
Why does this guy go through all this trouble trying to debunk this theory? Hell, seems to me that Anslinger and Hearst could have been trying to kill two (or three) birds with one stone, while paving their way to more wealth and power than any US corporation ever had before. After all, that is exactly what they did after getting cannabis outlawed, is it not?

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Comment #11 posted by Dankhank on February 21, 2008 at 12:13:17 PT
the original ...

was pretty good in it's own right ...

and it's running on SHO of HBO these days ....

what Dick are you referring to?


heh heh say it loud and proud ...

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Comment #10 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on February 21, 2008 at 11:19:40 PT
The New Dick!
Dick: It's short, it's sweet, it's what everyone wants to see.

Pat: It may be short and sweet, but nobody wants to see it.

I love the OLD Saturday Night Live.

But anyway, where were we? Oh Yeah...

Nixon! (Or Noxin, if you put it in the mirror.)

Why he loved the young people. He knew they were just being misled by some privileged Kennedy types. That's why he went down to talk to them at the Lincoln Memorial that time. Of course, he also talked to a portrait of Lincoln. (I wonder if he lied to the portrait of Lincoln?)

Which reminds me -

Richard Pryor as Idi Amin: I love American people! I had two for lunch!

Anyway...oh, yeah...


It's too bad Hearst and the du Ponts didn't have tape recorders.

Nixon: You, on the money, if you need the money, I mean, uh' you could get the money.

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Comment #9 posted by augustwest on February 21, 2008 at 10:45:48 PT:

here's a theory
Maybe somebody from one of the corps. that happen to rule the world today(hearst,gm,dupont) approached the author, because they knew he was a drug reporter for alternet, to do this story because since the internet blew up so did this theory. If they don't trash it future generations might start boycotting their products maybe they found evidence that we already have. How's that for a conspiracy theory steve wishnia you corporate tool.

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Comment #8 posted by ekim on February 21, 2008 at 10:10:54 PT
what about this conspiracy therory
In February 1938, Popular Mechanics hailed hemp as the "New Billion Dollar Crop."

why no mention about this -- who was pushing this popular mechanics story-- it must have had some facts to write such a story as a billion was huge money for that time -- that ment someone was going to be rich and who was that--

did not the marijuana tax end this billion dollar crop--??

the author does not do a good job of telling the reader why this crop was going to make billions --

he could have done more research on what the complete destruction of the old hemp seed here has done to our farmers-- birds and the planet.

anyone not seeing what this prohibition has done to such a great plant that has played such a historic role in our founding is not telling all the truth.

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Comment #7 posted by FoM on February 21, 2008 at 09:25:53 PT
Sinsemilla Jones
To me it isn't an either or issue. Another thing I believe. When Nixon ramped up the war on marijuana he didn't like the young people who were not marching in step with his Party.

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Comment #6 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on February 21, 2008 at 09:24:50 PT
Later on we'll CONSPIRE, as we dream by the fire
To face unafraid, the plans that we made, Walking in a Winter Wonderland.

The word conspiracy, like the word liberal, has been given a bad name by people who want to dismiss other points of view.

Civilization is a conspiracy, if you think about it.

Conspiracy is simply cooperation.

Maybe, in the way that liberals often call themselves progressive to avoid negative connotations, conspiracy theorists should refer to Cooperation Theory and insist on being called Cooperation Nuts.

As the song says, even love and sex is a conspiracy. In fact, sex is only wrong when it's not a conspiracy.

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Comment #5 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on February 21, 2008 at 09:02:19 PT
I've got a lot of thoughts on this one, FoM!
But I can't find my copy of The Emperor! (There are some tidbits that aren't online.)

Certainly, the racism came first, as Herer himself says, but that doesn't preclude that racism from having been used to achieve goals unrelated to the control of minorities.

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Comment #4 posted by Celaya on February 21, 2008 at 07:43:23 PT
It's interesting to ponder the author's motivation here. Is he just going for recognition by trashing Herer, or is it something else?

Is he trying to make it appear that the ONLY major force behind prohibition is racism and Christian fundamentalism? This could be seen as an attempt to white-wash the major corporations from their role in creating and maintaining marijuana prohibition. But as their influence grows in this increasingly fascist country, it's clear prohibition couldn't survive without their support.

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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 21, 2008 at 06:35:25 PT
Just My Thoughts
When I think about marijuana prohibition I always think marijuana was used to keep minorities from gaining too much recognition and power.

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Comment #2 posted by Had Enough on February 21, 2008 at 06:14:32 PT

Meanwhile, DuPont in 1937 had just patented nylon and "a new sulfate/sulfite process for making paper from wood pulp"

Didn’t DuPont and Standard Oil get these patents from Germany, weren’t they surrendered as reparations for the First World War , you know that War to end all Wars?

Why, then, do so many people believe in the "hemp conspiracy"? First, it's the influence of The Emperor Wears No Clothes; many people inspired to cannabis activism by Jack Herer's hemp-can-save-the-world vision and passionate denunciations of pot prohibition buy into the whole "conspiracy against marijuana" package. Another is that many stoners love a good conspiracy theory; secret cabals are simpler and sexier villains than sociopolitical forces. The conspiracist worldview, a hybrid of the who-really-killed-the-Kennedys suspicions of the '60s left and the Bilderbergs-and-Illuminati demonology of the far right, is especially common in rural areas and among pothead Ron Paul supporters. Most people don't have the historical or political knowledge to dispute a conspiracist flood of detailed half-truths.

I think Jack Herer has a reward, cash money for someone to prove the theory wrong… And I don't see Mr. Wishnia claming it.

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Comment #1 posted by potpal on February 21, 2008 at 05:53:21 PT
Thanks for clearing that up!

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