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January 31, 2007

Questions never asked...

The facts are simple and beyond dispute: cannabis which had been introduced to Western Medicine in 1839 and then used to treat a variety of  illnesses over the ensuing 98 years, was summarily made illegal by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Two things become clear from reading transcripts of the sketchy hearings held prior to Congressional action on the bill,  the first is that  they were shockingly political, and the second is that few of those in attendance knew anything about cannabis. When the  lone AMA representative questioned the need a ban, he was treated as a hostile witness by a Congressman who would later become a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  It is also clear from the statements of those favoring the bill that its target was cannabis in its smoked (inhaled) form at a time when the bulk of medicinal use was oral or topical. In other words, a legitimate medical market was to be sacrificed, together with the then-undeveloped market for industrial hemp, to a law that would give the federal government total control of all current and future uses of a plant that has since proven a veritable cornucopia of useful products.

To date, the federal government has not relinquished that control and spends billions of tax dollars each year on dishonest propaganda to justify it. Meanwhile, both political parties and most of our  institutions cravenly look the other way. Some, usually with an easily identifiable vested interest, openly support the fraud

When one considers that the first effect of the MTA would have been to immediately discourage all research into cannabinoid pharmacology at a time when America's pharmaceutical industry was in its scientific infancy, the cost of the MTA is compounded. When one also realizes that the fear generated by adolescent use of cannabis in the Sixties is what stampeded Congress into passing the even more repressive CSA in 1970,  and thus providing the weaponry for Nixon's drug war, the MTA can be seen as one of the most destructive pieces of legislation ever passed. That cannabis is still illegal and generating three quarters of a million felony arrests a year is nothing less than a national disgrace.

In that regard, the statement of Dr. Woodruff of the AMA was prophetic: "To say, however, as has been proposed here, that the use of the drug should be prevented by a prohibitive tax, loses sight of the fact that future investigation may show that there are substantial medical uses for Cannabis."
In any event, very few people seemed to care when cannabis was was made illegal by voice vote a few months later. All medical use, which had been declining, disappeared without a trace while the small, relatively obscure market for inhaled cannabis ('reefer'), remained largely undisturbed and invisible to a majority of Americans for the next thirty years. The ripples of tabloid excitement which attended the arrests of (white) entertainers Gene Krupa in 1943, and Robert Mitchum in 1948, are really testaments to the relatively tiny size of the  'reefer' market between 1937 and the enthusiastic discovery of 'pot' by white adolescents in the late Sixties.

When one further realizes that today's enormous illegal pot market had already been growing for at least five years by the time the drug war was launched, and that it has continued growing steadily ever since, two logical questions come to mind. The first is why did the market for a drug made illegal in the Thirties not start to fluorish for thirty years? The second is what critical factors have allowed that same market to grow steadily each year since the drug war began, depite the increasingly punitive and expensive efforts of our federal bureaucracy to destroy it?

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at January 31, 2007 04:49 PM