Marijuana: The History & The Mystery
By Stuart B. Hoffman, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Abraham J. Hammell, D.O.
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that include 3 species:
• Cannabis Sativa - from China
• Cannabis Indica - from India
• Cannabis Ruderalis - from Russia
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All 3 species have been used for centuries to produce fiber from the stalks (hemp),
seeds & seed oils for medicinal purposes, and as a recreational drug. All 3 species
contain similar concentrations of the psychoactive ingredient Δ9
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
All 3 species have been selectively bred for various purposes. Plants used for
industrial hemp have a high fiber content & relatively little THC; whereas plants
bred for recreational use have a high concentration of THC.
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Typical THC Concentrations
Street Joint – 1.0 to 5.0%
Thai Sticks – 1.0 to 7.0%
Hashish – 2 to 8%
Sinsemilla – 7 to 14%
Hash Oil 15 to 50%
Hemp Plant – 0.05 to 0.3%
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All parts of the cannabis plant.
Marijuana leaves tied around a stem or a narrow bamboo
The sticky pollen of the female cannabis plant.
The flowering tops of the unfertilized female cannabis plant.
An extract of the active ingredients of hashish. Very high
concentration of THC.
More Details
• Both male & female cannabis plants produce flowers.
• The male flowers develop buds which open to release pollen to fertilize the
flowers of the female plant.
• Fertilized female flowers then develop seeds to produce new plants.
• Fertilized female flowers producing seeds require most of the plant’s energy and
very little THC is formed in these plants.
• Unfertilized female plants generate increased production of THC throughout all
parts of the plant - particularly the flowers (sinsemilla).
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Male cannabis plant
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Female cannabis plant
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Early female cannabis plant
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The female flowers will start to form kolas around the branch junctions with a
main one at the growing tip of the plants.
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Getting ready to harvest
As the flowers become ready for harvest the pistils will darken and the seed pods
will be swollen and sticky with resin and THC trichomes.
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How they grow
Cannabis growers keep male and female plants separated to prevent pollination
and thus increase THC concentration.
Most cannabis plants growing in the wild have been cross pollinated many times
and have a very low THC concentration.
These plants grow freely all over North America. They are commonly found in
roadside ditches and are called “ditchweed”.
Ditchweeds are the descendants of the cannabis hemp grown on the hemp
Ditchweed looks exactly like the cannabis plants bred either for hemp or THC.
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Sourcebook of criminal justice statistics
Table 4.38.2011
Number of marijuana plants eradicated and seized, arrests made, weapons seized, and value of assets seized
Under the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, by State, 2011 a
Outdoor Operations
Indoor Operations
Note: These data were collected by the Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) in conjunction with the Domestic
Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. This program is a
joint Federal and State effort in which the DEA contributes
funding, training, equipment, investigate, and aircraft
resources to the participating States in the effort to eradicate
domestically cultivated marijuana.
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Number of
Value of
assets seized
may not add to total because of rounding.
include tended ditchweed, a type of marijuana that
grows wild.
Source: Table adapted by SOURCEBOOK staff from table
provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement
Ancient History
600 B.C.:
First used as a psychoactive drug –in China.
- Generally disdained – never became popular.
-Alcohol and Opium were the big problems.
105 A.D.:
Invention of hemp paper in China.
- Kept secret until:
9th century A.D.:
Arabs learn how to make hemp paper and spread it
to Spain in the 12th century.
13th century A.D.:
All of Europe learns how to make hemp paper.
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History continued
- Farmers could be jailed for not growing hemp in
Virginia during times of shortage.
- Hemp was used as currency.
- You could pay your taxes with hemp.
Late 1700’s:
- Cannabis hemp was George Washington’s primary
crop at Mount Vernon.
- Cannabis hemp was Thomas Jefferson’s
secondary crop at Monticello.
- Benjamin Franklin founded the first hemp paper
company in the colonies.
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Fast Forward to 1914
Harrison narcotics act passed.
- 1st federal law to regulate opiates & cocaine.
- Coordinated and superseded all narcotics laws.
- Basically a tax law*.
- Imposed a tax and regulated all forms of commerce for
these substances.
*Courts had consistently ruled that the Federal government
did not have the constitutional power to regulate.
- Local Affairs.
- Medical Practice.
- Pharmacies.
10th amendment gave these rights exclusively to the states.
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To get around the courts, congress made it a tax law “as a revenue requirement of
the federal government”.
“All persons or entities who dispense, produce, manufacture, import, compound,
sell, distribute, barter, or give away: opium, coca leaves, their salts, derivatives or
preparations must register with the Department of the Treasury.”
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More details
Marijuana was not included in this law. Marijuana was a minimal problem in the U.S. –
general public was barely aware of it and cared less.
18th amendment to the constitution – prohibited
distribution and sale of “intoxicating liquors”:
-Did not:
• Define “intoxicating liquors”.
• Prohibit alcohol consumption.
• Did not provide any penalties
for violations.
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Volstead act passed to define “intoxicating liquors” and provided
penalties for violations.
– No effect on middle & upper classes.
– Criminal gangs took over the liquor business.
– Violence, bribery, public official corruption.
– Loosening of the social mores in the 1920’s.
– Cocktail parties.
– Speakeasies.
– Bootlegging.
Considered socially acceptable and romantically dangerous.
Adverse effects of prohibition were so obvious, that in
1933 the states ratified the 21st amendment to the
constitution – which repealed the 18th amendment.
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The period from 1919 to 1937 determined the course of federal marijuana
legislation in the United States.
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Each state had passed its own laws controlling and
regulating opiates & cocaine.
– Wide variations in definitions, controls, oversight,
penalties, and enforcement.
– Recognized need for uniform national law to control these
Oct. 8, 1932: Uniform narcotic drug act passed
– Required all state laws to conform to a single
federal law for opiates & cocaine.
– Marijuana provisions were optional supplements to
the act.
– Any state wishing to regulate the sale and
possession of marijuana was instructed to simply
add cannabis to the definition of “narcotic drugs”,
and then all provisions of the act would apply to
marijuana as well as to opiates & cocaine.
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Narcotic from Greek, “narkos”
A drug that in moderate doses dulls the senses, relieves pain and induces profound
sleep. In excessive doses causes stupor, coma, depressed respiration and death.
– E.g.:
• Opium
• Morphine
• Dilaudid
– A medical definition
With the inclusion of cocaine in the 1914 Harrison Narcotic act, law enforcement,
the courts, media, and common usage included cocaine as a “narcotic” - - even
though it does just the opposite of a true narcotic - - - it is a central nervous system
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Definitions continued
With the inclusion of marijuana in the 1932 uniform narcotic drug act; law
enforcement, the courts, media, and common usage again expanded to include
marijuana as a “narcotic”, although its medical classification is a euphoric.
Today the term “narcotic” is loosely applied by the nonmedical community to
almost all illicit drugs.
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Prior to the Uniform Narcotics Drug Act of 1932 there was no federal law regarding
By 1937, 35 of the 48 states opted to include marijuana into the act. Every other
state had their own marijuana laws.
The law limited use of opiates, cocaine & marijuana to “legitimate medical
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6 powerful, cultural, economic, & industrial
forces that shaped marijuana legislation
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The general public
Andrew Mellon
Harry Anslinger
William Randolph Hearst
DuPont Chemical Corporation
The hemp industry
General Public
Marijuana use in the U.S. – minimal in the 1930’s.
Public not concerned nor interested.
After the prohibition failure – no public appetite for any form of federal
government regulation of drugs or alcohol.
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Andrew Mellon
Richest man in America – founded Gulf Oil, Union Steel, Alcoa, & Bank of New
Much of the family’s fortune was invested in DuPont Chemical Corporation.
Appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Harding.
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Harry Anslinger
Railroad policeman – worked for many different police & military units all over
the world from 1917-1928.
– Focused on stopping international opium traffic.
Widely recognized as honest, incorruptible, and ambitious
Married Andrew Mellon’s niece in 1930.
Appointed by President Hoover as the first commissioner of the federal bureau
of narcotics – a division of the treasury department – run by his wife’s uncle,
Andrew Mellon.
Served under 5 presidents: Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, & Kennedy.
Worked ceaselessly to bring marijuana under federal control.
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William Randolph Hearst
Newspaper tycoon.
Owned enormous timber acreage.
Used his timber to make wood pulp for his paper manufacturing business,
whose biggest customer was his newspaper chain.
Hemp decorticator made hemp paper cheaper than wood pulp paper.
– Threatened to drive Hearst’s papermaking company out of business and
severely decrease the value of his timberland.
Openly bigoted and racist – hated: Mexicans, blacks, Orientals, Jews, and poor
Felt that drugs & alcohol turned all these minorities into violent criminals.
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Hemp Industry
Vital, major worldwide industry from colonial times to 1930’s.
First Bibles, most maps, charts, books, Betsy Ross’ flag, first draft of Declaration
of Independence and the Constitution – all on hemp paper or hemp cloth.
Paintings of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Gainsborough were on hemp
linen/canvas and they used hemp oil-based paints.
Rudolph Diesel invented his diesel engine to run on hemp oil.
1916 U.S. government predicted that by 1940 all paper would come from
hemp, and no more trees would need to be cut down.
Most lacquer, paint, varnish, solvents and textiles came from hemp.
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Hemp decorticator invented – revolutionized the industry
– 1 acre of hemp produced as much paper as 4 acres of trees.
– Hemp paper better quality than wood paper.
– Harvest 1 acre hemp in 1 hour.
– Harvest 1 acre cotton in 2 hours.
– Hemp fiber twice as strong as cotton.
– Hemp could take over many competing industries.
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DuPont Chemical Corporation
Patented a sulfuric acid process to produce wood pulp paper.
Company records: 80% of DuPont’s railroad car loadings were wood-pulp
Patented nylon – hemp was its chief competitor.
Patented rayon – hemp was superior, stronger and cheaper.
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Once the narcotic drug act was passed, Harry Anslinger realized the way to get
federal control of marijuana was through a tax law.
He also knew that in order to do this he would have to eradicate the U.S. hemp
He found willing allies in William Randolph Hearst & the DuPont Chemical
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Treasury Department began crafting a bill to gain federal control of marijuana.
Disguised as a tax revenue bill to get it past congress and the courts.
Drafted by Harry Anslinger and Herman Oliphant, general counsel for the
treasury department.
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1932 – 1937
A 5-year media campaign to alarm the American public and Congress about the
dangers of marijuana and its threat to our country.
– Hearst newspapers
• Sensationalism
• Screaming headlines
• Horror stories
– Marijuana blamed for murderous rampages and rapes by blacks
and Mexicans.
This melodrama, outright exaggeration and false claims came to be known as
“yellow journalism” after a popular cartoon character in Hearst’s newspapers –
called “The Yellow Kid”.
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1932 – 1937 , cont.
Radio spots blanketed the airwaves from 1932-1937. A typical example:
– “By the tons it is coming into this country – the deadly, dreadful poison that
racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every
human being who becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating
forms….Marijuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marijuana
cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a
storehouse of horrid specters. Hashish makes a murderer, who kills for the
love of killing, out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the
idea that any habit could ever get him….”
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The Marijuana Tax Act was presented to the House Ways and Means
Committee, chaired by Robert Doughton of North Carolina. His election
campaign had been largely financed by DuPont Chemical Corporation. This
bypassed further hearings, and it went to the Senate Finance Committee,
chaired by another DuPont ally, Senator Prentiss Brown of Michigan, where it
was rubber stamped unchanged and sent back to Congress for a vote.
The bill was opposed by the American Medical Association – THC had medicinal
value and should be studied – and by the ABA – who said provisions of the
Marijuana Tax Act were unconstitutional.
The bill passed both houses of Congress with no debate.
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The Marijuana Tax Act
Required anyone who imported, produced, distributed or sold any part of the
cannabis plant (including hemp) to:
– Register with the I.R.S. for licensing.
– Pay a transfer tax of $1/oz/transaction if not registered.
– File a written order form with the I.R.S. for every transaction.
– Possession of cannabis without this written order form was considered
presumptive evidence of non-compliance with the Act, punishable by a fine
of no more than $2,000 for each violation &/or a prison term of no more
than 5 years.
The law was to be enforced by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, under
Commissioner Harry Anslinger.
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Samuel R. Caldwell
(February 11, 1880 – June 24, 1941)
Samuel R. Caldwell was the first person convicted of possession of marijuana
under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, according to federal files. He was fined
$1,000 and sentenced to four years of hard labor in Leavenworth for the two
marijuana cigarettes that were found in his possession.
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1937 Legislation
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 destroyed the hemp industry in the United
“The power to tax is the power to destroy” – John Marshall, former Chief
Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
DuPont’s 1937 annual report to the stock holders: “radical changes from the
revenue raising powers of the government will be converted into instruments
for forcing acceptance of new ideas of industrial and social reorganization”.
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1941 – 1945
From 1937 forward: heightened awareness and fear of marijuana among the public
and Congress due to the campaigns of Harry Anslinger & William Randolph Hearst.
Marijuana was not popular in the U.S. until after World War II.
Japanese cut off our supplies of hemp from the Philippines.
War effort was hampered by severe shortages.
Marijuana Tax Act was temporarily lifted.
U.S. Congress and Department of Agriculture – campaign: “Hemp for Victory” –
farmers subsidized to grow hemp. Deferred military service for fathers & sons if
they grew hemp.
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1940’s and 1950’s
– The U.S. was producing 350,000 tons of hemp per year.
– After the war, the Tax Act was resumed and cannabis hemp again became
“a dangerous drug”.
– Marijuana becoming a popular drug in the U.S.
– Congress passed the Boggs Act.
• Much harsher penalties.
• Marijuana, opiates, & cocaine all treated the same.
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Boggs Act
Mandatory sentencing rules:
– 1st offense
2-5 years
– 2nd offense
5-10 years
– 3rd offense
10-20 years
Removed judicial discretion for 2nd and 3rd offenses.
Sentence could not be suspended nor could parole be granted.
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1951 -1956
Federal Bureau of Narcotics actively urged states to adopt laws like the Boggs
Act – to increase state law enforcement activity.
By 1956, over half the states had a “Little Boggs Act”.
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As marijuana use increased, the government increased the penalties.
• 1956: Narcotic Control Act
– Potential fine for all THC offenses $20,000.
– Mandatory prison sentence for possession or IRS registration violation.
• 2-5-10 years for successive offenses
• No distinction between users & traffickers
– Any sale or transfer of marijuana by an adult to a minor – minimum 10 year
– Customs & Narcotics Bureau agents authorized to carry weapons and make
arrests on reasonable suspicion.
– Amended immigration and Nationality Act to provide for deportation of
alien drug users & suppliers.
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The Single Convention
1961: International Treaty Convention
– Prohibited production and supply of “narcotics” except for medical and
research purposes.
– Updated treaties to include new synthetic opiates and a mechanism for
including future new drugs.
– Developed the concept of drug schedules.
– Included cannabis for the 1st time.
– The basis for the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of
– Signed by 180 nations.
– Not self-executing – nations had to pass laws to carry out its provisions.
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1969: Leary v. United States
395 U.S. 6 (1969)
U.S. Supreme Court case dealing with the constitutionality of the Marijuana Tax
Act of 1937.
1965, Timothy Leary arrested, convicted and sentenced to 30 years in jail – 3
joints & marijuana in a snuff box.
Unanimous Supreme Court decision: Marijuana Tax Act is unconstitutional.
Leary’s conviction was overturned.
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1969: Congress repeals the Marijuana Tax Act.
Oct. 27, 1970:
– Congress passes the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control
Act of 1970.
– The Controlled Substance Act is part of the above Act.
• The legal foundation of the government’s fight against abuse of drugs
& other substances.
• Provides control mechanisms.
• Provides schedules.
• Provides for adding drugs, decontrolling drugs, moving from 1 schedule
to another.
• All under Title II of the Comprehensive Act.
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1972: Drug Abuse Treatment Act
– Federally funded programs for prevention & treatment of drug abuse.
1973: Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) was revamped and
merged into the newly formed Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the
Department of Justice.
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Drug Enforcement Administration
Department of Justice
U.S. Customs Service (Drug Investigations)
Department of the Treasury
Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement
Department of Justice
Office of National Narcotics Intelligence
Department of Justice
Narcotics Advance Research
Management Team
Executive Office of the President
Bureau of Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs
Department of Justice
Bureau of Narcotics
Department of the Treasury
Bureau of Drug Abuse Control
Food & Drug Administration
Department of Health, Education & Welfare
Bureau of Prohibition
Department of the Treasury
Bureau of Internal Revenue
Department of the Treasury
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What Happened
– Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW)
• Cabinet level department.
• National Institute of Mental Health.
• National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
• National Institute on Drug Abuse.
– Became SAMHSA by an Act of July 12, 1992.
– Education shifted out of H.E.W. and H.E.W was renamed: Department of
Health and Human Services (H.H.S.).
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Sept. 15, 1986:
– President Reagan signs Executive Order 12564
• Establishes the goal of a Drug-Free Federal Workplace.
• Congress requires H.H.S. to develop mandatory technical guidelines for
drug testing.
Oct. 27, 1986:
– Anti Drug Abuse Act
• 1st major congressional law for the “War on Drugs”.
• Changed federal supervised release & rehabilitation system into a
punitive system.
• Mandatory minimum sentencing for all drug offenses, including
• Prohibits controlled substance analogs.
• Stiffer penalties for crack cocaine over powdered cocaine.
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April 11, 1988:
– Mandatory guidelines 1st published in Federal Register
• Revised:
– June 9, 1994
– Sept. 30, 1997
– April 13, 2004
– May 1, 2010
• Original definition of “Medical Review Officer” and his/her duties.
• Includes National Laboratory Certification Program
– Originally over 100 labs were certified.
– Now only 34 labs are certified.
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Anti Drug Abuse Act
Nov. 18, 1988:
– Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1988
• Created the “Office of National Drug Control Policy”.
• Director – “Drug Czar” – term coined by then Senator Biden.
• Current Director: Gil Kerlikowske, appointed May 7, 2009.
• A cabinet level branch of the executive office.
• Goal is to formulate policies, priorities and objectives to eradicate illicit
drug use, commerce, and related crime:
– Directly advises the president.
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– D.O.T. develops their own guidelines – based on SAMHSA’s guidelines – no
statutory authority.
• Highly specific.
• Has withstood legal challenges.
• The model for all drug testing programs.
• Defines & expands the role of the MRO.
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Congress passes the “Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act”.
– Codified as law: 49 Code of Federal Regulations – Part 40.
– Revised:
• 2000, 2001, 2004, 2008, & 2010
– Requires:
• Pre-employment, random, post-accident, & reasonable suspicion
• Alcohol testing for the first time.
• Split specimens.
Since 1991 most of the marijuana legislation has involved 3 issues:
– Recreational use of marijuana – state level.
– Medical marijuana – state level.
– Marijuana analogs – state & federal level.
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California became 1st state to pass a medical marijuana law.
Now 18 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws.
– All these laws vary:
• Acceptable amounts to possess.
• Acceptable amounts to grow.
• Routes to obtain.
• Dispensaries.
• Licensing.
• Registration of patients & caregivers.
• Penalties.
• Most states do not require an employer to “accommodate” an
employee who is on medical marijuana.
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Arizona & Delaware prohibit an employer or school from taking adverse action
against an employee on medical marijuana unless:
– The employer would lose federal funds, grants or other federal business.
– The user is impaired by marijuana at work.
– The user is in possession of marijuana on the work site.
Employers in these states, when caught between opposing federal and state
laws usually opt not to accept medical marijuana as a legitimate medical
explanation. The courts have thus far consistently ruled that the states cannot
force an employer to knowingly violate the federal drug laws.
So far, no case law on Arizona’s prohibition on employer adverse action on
medical marijuana users.
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Local push back against medical marijuana
Local communities and counties that don’t agree with their state’s medical
marijuana laws are passing local ordinances banning medical marijuana
dispensaries within their borders.
• In California:
– Riverside – banned them – closed 15 dispensaries
– Upland – ban
– Lake Forest – ban
– Long Beach – considering a ban
– Los Angeles – closed 180 dispensaries within the city limits.
• February 5, 2013: California Supreme Court heard the issue:
– Do local municipalities have the right to ban medical marijuana
dispensaries within their city limits when state law permits them?
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Thank you