The debate over the legalization of Cannabis sativa, more commonly known as marijuana, has been one of the most heated controversies ever to occur in the United States. Its use as a medicine has existed for thousands of years in many countries world wide and is documented as far back as 2700 BC in ancient Chinese writings. When someone says ganja, cannabis, bung, dope, grass, rasta, or weed, they are talking about the same subject: marijuana. Marijuana should be legalized because the government could earn money from taxes on its sale, its value to the medical world outweighs its abuse potential, and because of its importance to the paper and clothing industries. This action should be taken despite efforts made by groups which say marijuana is a harmful drug which will increase crime rates and lead users to other more dangerous substances.
The actual story behind the legislature passed against marijuana is quite surprising. According to Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, the acts bringing about the demise of hemp were part of a large conspiracy involving DuPont, Harry J. Anslinger, commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), and many other influential industrial leaders such as William Randolph Hearst and Andrew Mellon. Herer notes that the Marijuana Tax Act, which passed in 1937, coincidentally occurred just as the decoricator machine was invented. With this invention, hemp would have been able to take over competing industries almost instantaneously. According to Popular Mechanics, "10,000 acres devoted to hemp will produce as much paper as 40,000 acres of average [forest] pulp land." William Hearst owned enormous timber acreage so his interest in preventing the growth of hemp can be easily explained. Competition from hemp would have easily driven the Hearst paper-manufacturing company out of business and significantly lowered the value of his land. Herer even suggests popularizing the term "marijuana" was a strategy Hearst used in order to create fear in the American public. Herer says "The first step in creating hysteria was to introduce the element of fear of the unknown by using a word that no one had ever heard of before... 'marijuana'".
DuPont's involvement in the anti-hemp campaign can also be explained with great ease. At this time, DuPont was patenting a new sulfuric acid process for producing wood-pulp paper. According to the company's own records, wood-pulp products ultimately accounted for more than 80% of all DuPont's railroad car loadings for the 50 years the Marijuana Tax Act was passed. It should also be said that two years before the prohibitive hemp tax in 1937, DuPont developed nylon which was a substitute for hemp rope. The year after the tax was passed DuPont came out with rayon, which would have been unable to compete with the strength of hemp fiber or its economical process of manufacturing. "DuPont's point man was none other than Harry Anslinger...who was appointed to the FBN by Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who was also chairman of the Mellon Bank, DuPont's chief financial backer. Anslinger's relationship to Mellon wasn't just political, he was also married to Mellon's niece" (Hartsell).
The reasoning behind DuPont, Anslinger, and Hearst was not for any moral or health related issues. They fought to prevent the growth of this new industry so they wouldn't lose money. In fact, the American Medical Association tried to argue for the medical benefits of hemp. Marijuana is actually less dangerous than alcohol, cigarettes, and even most over-the-counter medicines or prescriptions. According to Francis J. Young, the DEA's administrative judge, "nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal affects, but marijuana is not such a substance...Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be...