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|Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy|
|Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - Table of Contents|
National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
History of Tobacco Regulation*
*This section is based in part on a paper prepared for the Commission by Jane Lang
McGrew, an attorney from Washington, D.C.
Since 1613, when John Rolfe introduced a successful experiment in tobacco cultivation
in Virginia (Morison, 1965 : 52) the leaf has assumed major social, industrial, economic
and medical implications. Consequently, persons concerned with tobacco on a commercial or
personal basis have been subject to a variety of different regulations over the past 360
Tobacco has been attacked by social observers and medical authorities for the damage it has allegedly done, to the social and physical condition of man. Yet it has also provided a substantial source of revenue to the state and Federal governments of the United States.
As is now the case with alcohol, tobacco has long been subject to regulatory controls over the quantity and quality of production. On the other hand, sumptuary laws affecting tobacco have been far fewer-and weaker-than those aimed at alcohol. In fact, there has never been a time when tobacco was prohibited throughout the United States although consumption under certain circumstances has been forbidden at various times in different jurisdictions.
Tobacco-associated today with smoking of cigarettes, and to a lesser extent, of pipes and cigars-has been popular at times for both snuffing and chewing. Indeed, until about 1870 cigarettes were relatively rare in the United States, and almost all tobacco consumed domestically was chewed during the mid-19th century (Gottsegen, 1940: 9-10).
What ever the preferred mode of consumption, however, the, commodity has always been
the subject of debate respecting the appropriate governmental attitude. On the one hand,
proponents of the leaf stress its social benefits and its economic and industrial
significance. Some enthusiasts even endorse its alleged medical and psychological
benefits. Opposed are those who cite the health hazards of smoking and others who are
convinced of its immorality.
The motivation for regulation has come from both sides of the controversy. Most
sumptuary restrictions were fostered by the latter group in an effort to suppress the
habit. Those who seek to institutionalize and foster use of the drug focus on the
regulation of the quantity and quality of production.
This section does not attempt to weigh the merits of the various regulatory schemes.
Rather, it will trace from John Rolfe's day the three threads of regulation which have
circumscribed both the producer and consumer of tobacco in the United States.
Schaffer Library of Drug Policy
Major Studies of Drug and Drug Policy
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - The Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
Licit and Illicit Drugs
Short History of the Marijuana Laws
The Drug Hang-Up
Congressional Transcripts of the Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
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Medical Marijuana Throughout History
Drug Legalization Debate
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Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years
DEA Ruling on Medical Marijuana
Legal References on Drugs
GAO Documents on Drugs
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