Why Was Hemp Illegal For So Long?

It wasn’t until the early 20th century the view of cannabis shift from versatile, natural medicine to dangerous, illicit drug. Change began to happen when Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, leading to the formation of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This mandated the product labels list any of ten ingredients that were considered “addictive” and/or “dangerous”.  

Cannabis was included in that list. Hemp, although non-intoxicating, was lumped in with it. After 1910, the media began perpetuating a negative association with cannabis as well. Prohibition outlawed alcohol, 29-states also outlawed cannabis. 

In the 1930’s, then Federal Bureau of Narcotics commissioner Harry J. Anslinger began a fight against cannabis, inhibiting its use with the promotion of legislation and taxation that did not support it. Anslinger’s associates included the likes of some of the most powerful people in America – Randolph Hearst, John D. Rockefeller, and Pierre du Pont – all men with investments in industries that could be threatened by the success of industrial hemp, such as paper, fuel, and a slew of other products. 

 Each assisted Anslinger in orchestrating campaigns to slander cannabis as a whole. Once cannabis was widely criticized and perceived dangerous by the mainstream, the stigma became strong. In 1970, strict cannabis policy was enacted, moving cannabis into the category of a Schedule I illicit drug, deeming the plant as dangerous as heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine. (Cannabis & CBD for Health & Wellness. Sherman, Chin 2019)

I think we all can agree that oversight and moderate regulation is needed for cannabis that contains high levels of THC due to its intoxicating effects. As far as hemp goes, this stuff really got a bad rap for no reason. It’s time we change that, people. It starts with you.       


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