The Rise of the Corporate State
The ink had barely dried on the newly enacted Twenty-first Amendment before a well executed plan was hatched to replace alcohol prohibition with a ban on another substance. This time "reformers" set their sights on the deadly scourge marijuana. The only problem was that virtually no one outside of jazz musicians and Mexican immigrants had ever heard of marijuana.
The Conspiracy Theory
The campaign to demonize cannabis was spearheaded by Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics; William Randolph Hearst, newspaper tycoon; J D Rockefeller, Chairman of Standard Oil, and Pierre duPont, head of the enormous DuPont Chemical Company and Chairman of General Motors Corporation. Each had their own special interest reasons for banning hemp and none had anything to do with protecting the public health.
America was a rapidly developing country in the early 1900's. Giant industries were forged from the bowels of the earth by the brains and brawn of determined, hardworking men. Steel and oil, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and the automotive industries were born within the span of a few decades. Most industries were giant monopolies controlled by a single person. Andrew Carnegie dominated the steel market, John D. Rockefeller controlled 90% of the oil industry, and the DuPont brothers emerged from WWI as one of the leading manufactures of petro-chemicals.
The Battle Between Renewable and Fossil Fuels
Hands down, Henry Ford dominated the auto industry. Ford designed his cars to run on either ethanol or gasoline, but he strongly preferred renewable hemp-based alcohol fuels. He grew hemp on his farm, and championed hemp to help sustain farmers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.
Gas stations were few and far between leading up to the 1920's. Since cars were mainly used for local commutes, it wasn't as important to have a reliable supply of gas stations at regular intervals, but it became a real problem on longer cross country trips where you would mostly likely run out of gas between stations. The alternative was to use ethanol which could be produced from virtually any organic material in a backyard still. Since most farmers produced fuel to run their equipment, it wasn't uncommon for drivers to refuel at the local farm instead of a gas station. This did not sit well with Rockefeller.
When the first Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1908, production figures for the year were 10,660. By 1920, the year Alcohol Prohibition was enacted, those numbers had grown to 941,042. Millions of gallons of ethanol were being produced commercially each year. In a move designed to crush his competition, Rockefeller backed the Prohibition movement and was successful in his efforts to include the manufacture of backyard ethanol in the ban.
After 1920, ethanol was only legal when used as an additive to gasoline. After lobbying for its prohibition, Rockefeller opened an ethanol plant as soon as the Eighteenth Amendment was enacted; but instead of using hemp, Rockefeller relied on corn as his fuel source. He quickly abandoned ethanol when corn prices skyrocketed in 1924 and turned instead to chemical additives. By the time Prohibition was repealed in 1933, gasoline powered vehicles were the accepted norm.
One of the principal drawbacks to gasoline was that it caused serious engine-knocking that was eliminated when ethanol was added to the mix. Rockefeller sought a replacement for ethanol and turned to the chemical industry to create the product.
A Marriage of Convenience
Formed in 1923, the Ethyl Corporation was an equal partnership between General Motors, headed by Pierre du Pont, and Standard Oil of New Jersey, headed by John D. Rockefeller. The company combined the work of two men to come up with a anti-knock gasoline that was incestuously manufactured by the DuPont Chemical Company for Standard Oil's gasoline. The fuel they produced contained lead that polluted our air until it was completely banned in 1996. Ethanol burns clean and does not emit smog producing particles.
Ethanol production resumed after the repeal of Prohibition and its market share grew larger each year. Argrol, the largest ethanol manufacturer in the country, supplied over 2,000 stations in 1937; but, a few short years later, the plant was closed. Argrol's demise corresponded with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act, but operators complained of sabotage by oil industry operatives. Because gasoline cost more to produce than ethanol, Rockefeller released massive amounts of oil to artificially (and temporarily) drive down the cost of gas. Although America's entry into WWII would send ethanol (and hemp) production through the roof, it never regained popularity as a fuel for personal transportation.
Hemp was a "casualty of war" as far as Rockefeller was concerned. Ethanol,which could be made from virtually any organic material, was Rockefeller's nemesis, but he would have opposed anything that provided competition to his oil empire. Hemp was targeted simply because it was Ford's favored source of ethanol. DuPont, on the other hand, went after hemp specifically.
Two highly significant articles appeared in 1937 and 1938 respectively that shed light on hemp's value to this nation. The dates are particularly important because the production of hemp was already banned when these articles appeared, but even publishers of "scientific"magazines did not realize that The Marijuana Tax Stamp Act had also banned hemp.
"Flax and Hemp," Mechanical Engineering, Feb. 1937 and "The New Billion Dollar Crop," Popular Mechanics, 1938, praised the usefulness and potential of hemp by stating "hemp can be used to produce more than 25,000 products" and "hemp will prove, for both farmer and public, the most profitable and desirable crop that can be grown." Most of these 25,000 products were in direct competition with petroleum-based products manufactured by the DuPont Corporation, including the discovery of the first synthetic material, Nylon.
The DuPont Corporation spent much of the thirties developing Nylon, a new material that the company believed would replace cotton and hemp-based products in the future, but a race was on to beat the Germans to the market. Andrew Mellon, the richest man in America and Secretary of the Treasury, was heavily invested in oil and Nylon. By enacting a ban on hemp, these men ensured themselves a ready-made market and enormous profits.
This excerpt taken from a 1937 DuPont Corporation annual report reveals a deeper, fundamental shift in corporate thinking: “Radical changes from the revenue raising power of government would be converted into instruments for forcing acceptance of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reorganization." Their marketing plan was designed to force consumers to accept their petroleum-based products in lieu of superior, renewable hemp-based products in the same manner that gasoline was pushed in favor of ethanol - by eliminating the competition.
William Randolph Hearst had his own reasons for demonizing cannabis. There is some disagreement whether hemp paper posed a threat to wood-pulp paper that came from Hearst's vast timberland holdings, but one thing is certain: his yellow journalism reporting on the horrors of marijuana sold newspapers.
Hearst was an unrepentant racist, but he was an equal opportunity hater until Pancho Villa "liberated" his 800,000 acre holdings during the Mexican Revolution (1910 - 1920). To escape the violence in their homeland, thousands of Hispanics flooded into this country. Since America was experiencing a boom period, these immigrants were welcomed to work menial jobs as farmhands, chamber maids, and dishwashers; but attitudes quickly changed once millions of jobs disappeared during the Great Depression.
The Rise of Reefer Madness
By the time Alcohol Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the Depression was well underway. Hearst wasted no time capitalizing on the rising anger directed at brown-skinned foreigners as breadlines filled with displaced workers grew longer each day.
"Reefer Madness" stories started appearing with increasing regularity and the stories grew more salacious with each telling. Tall tales of instant insanity, depravity, attacks on white women, and violence filled thousands of column inches in Hearst's papers. Since millions of Americans were familiar with cannabis and knew it to be a harmless substance they used for a myriad of ailments, Hearst deliberately used the Mexican slang name "marijuana" to demonize this new menace in his newspapers.
The Birth of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics
Harry Anslinger, was the Assistant Commissioner of Prohibition in 1929 until he was appointed the Commissioner the Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) in 1930, a position that was created for him by his brother-in-law, Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury (and a large investor in nylon). Anslinger held the position for thirty-two years until John F. Kennedy finally sacked him in 1962.
Anslingler was a "law and order evangelist" who has been described as a cross between William Jennings Byran and Jerry Falwell. As head of the FBN, Anslinger was given absolute control over enforcing and recommending narcotic laws which allowed him to define both the problem and the solution.
As history will confirm, Prohibition increases crime and increased crime rates correspond to increased budgets for law enforcement. Efforts to enforce Alcohol Prohibition resulted in a 561% increase in the federal prison population between 1914 - 1932. The explosion in the prison population greatly increased spending on prisons and led to severe overcrowding. Total federal expenditures on penal institutions increased 1,000% between 1915 and 1932.
The repeal of alcohol created a void for law enforcement that Anslinger was more than happy to fill. Using the exact same tactics and arguments that Prohibitionists employed to ban alcohol, Anslinger began a campaign to ban marijuana.
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