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Frequently Asked Questions

Was there a conspiracy to outlaw hemp because it was a threat to the DuPonts and other industrial interests?

It has been stated that the Marihuana Tax Act was passed as the result of a conspiracy between the Dupont Company, William Randolph Hearst, Harry Anslinger, and various industrial interests. The theory is that marijuana was outlawed because the invention of a machine called the decorticator made it possible to produce hemp products much more cheaply. With the cheaper production, hemp was supposed to be a threat to chemical interests that made their money from oil. It has been alleged that hemp was a threat to various fibers such as nylon, rayon, and cotton.

I don't think so. Here is why:

  • There is no smoking gun. While there were connections between the various people in the theory, there is no documentation anywhere that would establish this kind of conspiracy between them.
  • The Dupont fortune was built largely on explosives and a succession of wars have insured that they do quite well whatever happens with hemp.
  • Even if hemp was produced at much cheaper rates there would still have been a big market for nylon products. No woman was going to wear stockings made out of hemp fiber.
  • The theory doesn't explain how marijuana became illegal in 30 states before Harry Anslinger was appointed as head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930.
  • Hemp was a declining crop in the United States in the 1930s. The power decorticator had failed when it was used by the farmers in the 1930s because they weren't familiar with it and didn't use it properly. The hemp crop sat in the warehouses for years unsold because there was no market for it at the time. There was no reason for any industrialist to think that hemp was a threat to their empire.
  • Hearst had adequate reasons to print extreme newspaper articles about marijuana, simply because it sold newspapers, without being involved in a conspiracy.
  • While Popular Science printed such articles as "The New Billion Dollar Crop", it should be remembered that Popular Science specializes in visionary articles on new technology that doesn't necessarily work out. One other example is their repeated front cover specials on flying cars.

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