World Mysteries explains the theory in chronological detail. Summarized, it states that William Randolf Hearst orchestrated the entire anti-marijuana culture that has existed in the US since the 1920s.
Hearst supposedly accomplished this by first arranging for his nephew-in-law Harry J. Anslinger to be appointed as the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. This was done so Anslinger could wage a war on marijuana (hemp) (2).
Anslinger held the position for 31 years and assisted in maintaining the status of marijuana as a deadly narcotic. The conspiracy states that Hearst then aligned with Lammont DuPont to keep the hemp oil out of the oil industry. Hearst then created what’s called “yellow journalism”.
This involved publishing newspaper articles about the evils of marijuana, a word infused into the culture to describe this deadly drug that was responsible for making men go crazy and driving them to murder and rape as a result of being under the influence of weed. The men were from Mexican and black communities. The stories were slanted to inspire further racist stereotypes.
The Hemp Conspiracy Theory
The yellow journalism bled into the movie industry with several films made about the destructive nature of becoming addicted to this narcotic. The conspiracy theory explains that the motivation was to protect the Hearst Empire and that of DuPont, both threatened by the agriculture industry’s consideration of growing hemp to replace the use of trees and also fossil fuels.
While hemp was the actual name for marijuana and easily recognized by most people, hardly anyone realized that the two names were for the same plant. The theory concludes that since the oil from the hemp would have replaced much of the petroleum used, especially for the manufacturing of plastics, that production had to put down quickly.
Furthermore, Hearst was also into lumber and paper and owned vast acres ready for harvesting. The theory states that had Hearst been unsuccessful in stopping the use of hemp, America would have recovered very quickly from the Great Depression by creating thousands of jobs with the production of hemp. This would have boosted the clothing and paper industries while providing oil and of course medicine to the nation.
Debunking the Cannabis Conspiracy
Skeptoid points out that hemp was used in fabrics, even in parachutes and ropes during World War II and that hemp oil was used in machines. Hearst wasn’t a timber baron but did in fact publish anti-marijuana articles.
In 1985, pro-marijuana activist Jack Herer published “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” and much of the conspiracy theory points back to his book. Skeptoid states that less than 14,000 acres of hemp existed in the US when the “Marihuana Tax Act” (1937) was passed (3).
The website also explains that the reason hemp didn’t take off as a replacement product for many industries was because it could only be used for coarse fiber applications. This limited use meant fewer markets and those were already supplied by wood, paper and oil.
Another point made – decades before Hearst arrived on the marijuana scene, “Many laws had been passed making cannabis illegal decades before the alleged conspiracy between Hearst, DuPont and the others.” (4)
It was 1913 when California banned non-medical cannabis that was according to Skeptoid a campaign not so much against drugs, but racially fueled by anti-Chinese sentiments. Mexican and black communities were also racially targeted for enforcement of such laws, also passed in NYC (1914) and Texas (1915).
Legalized Marijuana Boosts Black Market
In August 2014, medical marijuana sales saw a sharp increase. This is after months of declining sales. What is the reason for the jump in sales? According to the Washington Post, medical sales are now almost as much as recreational sales at $33.4 million (5).
Perhaps the jump reflects that those who switched from medical marijuana to recreational marijuana in Colorado went back to medical to take advantage of the lower tax rates. The tax for recreational marijuana makes the cost significantly higher than medical weed.
Even with the tax differences, both types of Mary Jane sales are on the increase. According to state tax records, each market raked in $7.5 million each in tax revenues. That brings the annual total through August 2014 to $45 million.
While Denver sales account for 45% of recreational sales, that figure reflects an increase in sales outside of Denver County. For example, Aurora reported the first sales in October 2014
The Washington Post reports that the legalization of marijuana in Colorado was to “undermine the black market”. However, this hasn’t happened. In fact, it has boosted black market sales.
While this may seem contradictory, Post TV’s interview with a black market grower and dealer explains that the cost of legalized marijuana can be 2 to 3.5 times more than black market weed. That’s partly because of the various taxes levied against legal sales that can be 30% or more.
A market that had previously experienced a price slump has been revived by the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. The high cost of legal weed has driven customers back to black market dealers who can make $500 in an average week or as much as $1,500 on a good week.
Legalized Marijuana and the Future of Hemp
Hemp is used to make clothes and shoes. There are many hemp-related products available on the market today.
Will the legalization of marijuana put an end to the Hemp Conspiracy? Probably not.
With many existing modern applications of hemp beyond medicinal purposes, its use instead of other resources remains a strong argument.
If hemp is in fact too coarse a fiber for across the board applications, then perhaps the call should be for developing a method to refine the fiber for better usage.
If that were possible, then hemp could possibly take its place in the world the way the Hemp Conspiracy claims it was prevented in 1937.
References & Image Credits:
(1) TSW: Drug Companies Try to Block Legalized Marijuana
(2) World Mysteries
(3) Wikipedia: Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
(5) Washington Post
(6) vemma via Compfight cc
(7) Wiros via Compfight cc