Anslinger vitriolic against the hemp industry was supported strongly by Clinton M. Hester, the Assistant General Counsel for the Treasury Department, who addressed the floor a few days after. Hester started his testimony by pointing out the presence of a pharmacologist, chemist and botanist that can corroborate any statement he made concerning the effects of marijuana on humans.

He then proceeded to point out the seriousness of the issue and the need for a legislative control mechanism over the hemp plant has been recognized by “leading newspapers in the country” and pointed out specifically to a recent editorial piece in the Washington Times, which he directly quoted,

The marihuana cigarette is one of the most insidious of all forms of dope, largely because of he failure of the public to understand its fatal qualities. The Nation is almost defenseless against it, having no Federal laws to cope with it and virtually no organized campaign for combating it. The result is tragic. School children are the prey of peddlers who infest school neighborhoods. High-school boys and girls buy the destructive weed without knowledge of it capacity for harm, and conscienceless dealers sell it with impunity. This is a national problem and it must have national attention. The fatal marihuana cigarette must be recognized as a deadly drug and American children must be protected against it.

Unsurprisingly, the rest of his testimonies were in made in almost the same vein, with a lot of allegation and references to prominent personalities and institutions that sadly lack any credible substantiation. Hester reiterated that the main purpose of the bill was to equipped the Federal Government with a power of taxation that will allow marijuana to be effectively regulated at its most basic level without impinging on its uses in the ‘industrial, medical and scientific’ fields.

Hester cited the success that the Harrison Narcotics Act had in managing the opiates and cocaine menace in the country, without mentioning the obvious differing addiction and criminal statistics of the products in question, to strengthen his point. He stressed that the observation of the proposed Act would ensure that marijuana would only be available to ‘manufacturers, compounders, importers, producers, dealers, laboratory users, and practitioners’ and thus eliminating the opportunity for illicit users to access the product.

A thorough elaboration on the finer points of the Act by Hester followed suit, with parallels drawn with the Harrison Narcotics Act and the National Firearms Act, as well as the constitutionality of the provisions in the proposed Act – all clearly designed to create the appearance that marijuana is only being regulated by the Act while generating additional revenue for the Federal Government, and not to place it out of the reach from the market altogether.

There was a brief clarification sought then by Representative Lewis of the House Ways and Means Committee that perhaps appeared just a little too rehearsed.

MR. LEWIS: The treatment of this subject as a matter of method, and so far as constitutional basis is concerned, is about the same as the Harrison Narcotic Act, is it not?

MR. HESTER: With one exception.

MR. LEWIS: I was thinking you might add this drug as an amendment to the Harrison Narcotic Act.

MR. HESTER: No; there are three reasons why we think that would be a bad thing to do.

The first is that while the Harrison Narcotic Act would include producers, there are actually no producers in the United States of the plant from which opium and coca leaves are obtained. Therefore, we have never had a problem under the Harrison Narcotic Act with respect to products which are produced in this country but have only been concerned with products which are imported from abroad. Here we have the reverse situation. Practically all of this marihuana is grown in the United States and for that reason, instead of being concerned only with importation and sale as under the Harrison Act, provision must also be made for regulation of production of marihuana. There is the further point that opium and coca leaves, which are the subjects of the Harrison Act, are legitimately used almost exclusively as medicines, whereas there are many industrial uses for marihuana. That is another distinction between the Harrison Act and this bill.

The third is this, that the Harrison Narcotic Act has twice been sustained by the Supreme Court of the United States and lawyers are no longer challenging its constitutionality. If an entirely new and different subject matter were to be inserted in its provisions, the act might be subjected to further constitutional attacks. We feel, in view of the reasons I have cited, that this problem is one that should be dealt with under a separate act.

We have departed from the Harrison Narcotic Act in one major respect, and we have done that because the Ways and Means Committee departed from the plan of the Harrison Act in preparing the National Firearms Act. Under the Harrison Narcotic Act no one can buy narcotics unless he has registered and paid the occupational tax. In the National Firearms Act the committee did not follow that plan. Anyone is permitted to buy a machine gun or a submachine gun, but he must pay a $200 transfer tax, and carry out the purchase on an official order form.

MR. HESTER: Yes, this bill would permit anyone to purchase marihuana, as was done in the National Firearms Act in permitting anyone to buy a machine gun, but he would have to pay a tax of $100 per ounce of marihuana and make his purchase on an official order form. A person who wants to buy marihuana would have to go to the collector and get an order form in duplicate, and buy the $100 tax stamp and put it on the original order form there. He would take the original to the vendor, and keep the duplicate. If the purchaser wants to transfer it, the person who purchases the marihuana from him has to do the same thing and pay the $100 tax. That is the scheme that has been adopted to stop high-school children from getting marihuana.

MR.VINSON: What is the fair market value, per ounce, of marihuana?

MR. HESTER: In its raw state it is about a dollar per ounce, as a drug.

A perfectly legitimate question and answer session that nevertheless perfectly illustrates the apparent affordability and availability of marijuana under the proposed Act, while distancing itself from the more questionable provisions of the other two Acts mentioned earlier.

And so forth, it went. Testimonies after testimonies which demonized marijuana without any credible evidence, yet tempered with a very conscientious Act that was designed only to regulate the lawless marijuana/hemp industry.

Next: The Repercussion of The Marijuana Tax Act 1937


 United States Marijuana Law
 About Marijuana

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