Since cannabis was so widely used by physicians in the 1930s, you’ve got to wonder how the bad government guys overcame them. They were very, very sneaky. The AMA was fooled and we were all left in the fallout. It’s just another example of how very powerful men with money can create any reality they desire.
In 1820 the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention was established. They created the first compilation of standard drugs in the United States. They set the standards for identification, quality, purity and strengths of medicines. It was years in the making, and our good friend Cannabis was on not only on the list but also very widely accepted and used. This isn’t really surprising. There were lots of herbal remedies in the Pharmacopoeia back then.
The AMA (American Medical Association) was established years later in 1847, and in 1849 they formed a board to deal with the “quack” remedies being peddled all over the country. Cannabis was NOT on the hit list because it was considered real medicine.
In 1905 the AMA established a Council on Pharmacy & Chemistry that set standards on manufacturing and the advertising of medications. Cannabis was still thought of as a medicine and was in widespread use among physicians to treat a long list of ailments. It wasn’t referred to as “Marijuana” yet at this point in time.
In 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was passed without any regard for it’s medicinal use or the fact that it’s future potential as a medicine was just now being examined more scientifically. The medical community had not been consulted and found out about what was going on in Congress far too late to do anything about it. Although a doctor representing the AMA was called to testify to the Ways and Means Committee hearing, his harsh judgement on their plan to outlaw cannabis never made it out of the room, and because he would not be their ally, the AMA representative was promptly dismissed. The new war on marijuana was to be based on all lies, and no truth, especially from a physician, would be allowed to prevail.
The Ways and Means Committee is the only committee that could lawfully take an Bill right to a vote in Congress, and that is why Anslinger chose this vehicle to get his way. So without any further investigation of the medicinal value of Cannabis, the new bill went to a vote. During the usual Q&A, when asked by a member of Congress if the AMA was consulted and ok with this, Anslinger’s cronie, Fred Vinson, Assistant General Counsel for the Treasury Department, reported that the AMA was totally on board, and just that easy marijuana was essentially outlawed for any use in America. I found a website with text from the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act Ways and Means Committee hearing, and it’s pretty crazy. Actually, it was much worse than I thought it would be.
Despite it’s medicinal use by physicians and a safety record of well over 200 years in America, marijuana was outlawed without ever really considering the doctors who were successfully using it with their patients. The replacement of the words “hemp” and “cannabis” with the word “marijuana”, (or marihuana), in mass media (Hearst!), was strategic, and most doctors didn’t even realize their useful herbal remedy cannabis even got the axe until it was far too late. While there was some protest, in 1941 the doctors all bowed to the pressure and cannabis, (now commonly called marijuana for that incredible racial impact), was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia.
The AMA, with the help of then New York City Mayor LaGuardia, presented research in 1945 that showed many beneficial therapeutic uses of cannabis, but the damage was already done. Several years of hugely successful negative propaganda won out and cannabis and hemp, both now called marijuana, continued to receive it’s ill fated designation as demon weed.
There it sat until the 1970s and 1980s, when new evidence of the medicinal benefits of cannabis prompted the AMA to request more research be done to determine marijuana’s effectiveness in hospice care and with HIV/AIDS patients. They called for government funding to help with the research. The government was not forthcoming, but did start their own super secret studies and began to grow their own weed to research on their own, without any watchful eyes from the outside. While their own research meant they were looking for science to back up the Anslinger claims, they could not find any proof to any of what he said.
There’s the short version of how the AMA was fooled and we were all screwed. But I won’t leave you without a little hope. Part 2 coming right up…in a day or so.