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The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937




DR. BLATT: That will not take very long, because as Mr. Wollner has said, we are only dealing with two thirds of ten percent of the material. Very briefly, the story is, you can take Cannabis and extract it with one of several solvents, or combinations of solvents and obtain a physiologically active extract. The only successful technique that has been applied to that so far has been a distillation process, and through the distillation you can get out of it three substances, which I will simply name and pass on.
One of them is a paraffin hydrocarbon known as nonacosane, that is, physiologically, inactive.
If you do a distillation, you get a definite distillate, and all chemists who have worked with Cannabis know it as red oil. Unfortunately, it also was known as Cannabinol, and that has been the cause of much trouble.
This red oil looks a good bit like a lubricating oil of a rather poor quality, a semi-solid material at room temperature. That material we will simply call narcotic-active by a physiological test. The real nasty principle about the situation is that that material behaves as if it were a chemical substance, and there have been three different formulas proposed for it.
One of the formulas has Cot so far as two individuals having agreed upon it. Then the hitch comes. In about forty years, three English workers succeeded in preparing and isolating one
pure chemical substance from this red oil.
They called that Cannabinol, and the one individual substance derived from it is also called Cannabinol. For thirty years, nobody following them was ever able to get this pure Cannabinol.
So, we went ahead and worked with Cannabinol, and assumed that we were working with the pure substance. Then, roughly about eight years ago, the pure chemical individual, pure
Cannabinol, again was secured for the second time, and apparently it can be repeated.
Pure Cannabinol is the fourth chemical substance to be gotten out of Cannabis, and it is the fourth one to be lacking in narcotic activity. It is toxic, however, and it is quite possible that some of the activity of Cannabinol, some of this complex activity that has been referred to during the morning, is due to pure Cannabinol as a chemical individual.
The chemical structure of pure Cannabinol has been fairly well worked out. It is not definitely settled. We do not need to go into that There is one more thing that should be pointed out, and that is the fact that for thirty years perfectly competent chemists have taken this red oil, distilled, and worked with it as if a pure chemical. It not only gives analytical values of resin, but they are
even more complex. You can carry out the chemical reactions with this. So, let us refer to red oil as the crude Cannabinol; and the chemical individual as pure Cannabinol. You can run chemical reactions. You can reduce an acetylate and the products you get out are still analyzable for the proper derivatives of crude Cannabinol. That is, where everybody has gone
There is one ray of hope, and a pretty definite one, as to the confusion of a mixture which was taken to be a definite chemical substance, and that is why progress has been so slow, and that is the fact that we have no way quantitatively of following the definite reaction of the chemical principle.
The one ray of hope I mention is the fact that you can take red oil, crude Cannabinol, remove one-fourth, which is inactive as pure Cannabinol, and the residual three-fourths still retains chemical activity. There is where the work begins. That is as far as has been gotten chemically.
There is just one more point here. As far as I have been able to find, and I received corroboration at noon, there not only is no correlation, or no correlation has been made, so far as I can find. out, between the various color reactions for Cannabis and the narcotic activity, and I was told at noon that, not only had there been none made, but it was because there definitely is none. So we can not fail to follow the activity as to this color test.
I may be getting off in deep water, but that is the apparent final analysis. There is one more thing, and that will finish it up.
I hope not many people will be misled by the principle that the active principle of Cannabis is Cannabinol. You will find it even there. The active fraction which you will find, which is more or less of a mixture, is called Cannabinol.
You can find a chemical substance which is not active. I think that covers it.

MR. WOLLNER: I think that adds oils to the fire.

DR. MUNCH: Is there an active substance there?

MR. WOLLNER: I will take your word for it, and Bromberg's on the basis of his research in New York It leads us pretty much to where we started. I think if all the research work done so far were dumped together by a group of chemists, or if they started out today on this investigation, that they would be exactly the same as they are now inside of six months; that is, all of the information which we have, which is very little, could be accumulated in six months.
Recognizing that situation, the Treasury two years ago undertook to lay the basis for a competent attack on the problem. We did not know what that would consist of, but we knew sound, fundamental, reproducible information and data had to be obtained.
The first thing we did was to contact the Department of Agriculture, and with their cooperation, there was planted a plot at Arlington Farms over here, last summer, and the summer before, where the plant was observed in its various stages of growth, and which furnished us all of the
criteria the literature offered us in the past. As I mentioned earlier, about ninety percent of all of it was thrown out. The report of the first year's investigation was published in the journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association. I have a number of copies here, if there are any technical men who have not soon that report.
An equivalent report is being prepared at the present time on the basis of this summer's work.
We have obtained several tons of Marihuana. We have extracted or are extracting huge quantities of that material, in an effort to provide a satisfactory amount on the basis of which a
broad attack on the problem may be predicated.
Dr. Matchett is in charge of the Treasury's own immediate attack on the problem, and I believe he has some information which he can lay before you this afternoon. Is that correct, Dr. Matchett?


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