I will tell you why. In 1910, Mormons who lived in Utah began traveling to Mexico and coming home with marijuana. This upset the Mormon Church, who quickly voted against the plant’s use in their communities. Because the Church and the state of Utah were so united, the first prohibition of marijuana law was passed there in 1915. Now, states’ rights are states’ rights, and the Constitution clearly lays this out. The big issue comes into play today because states are losing these rights to reverse their laws against marijuana use, due to the federal governments’ ban against the plant. This ban, which is in no way tied to criminal offense or medical history, was passed under the guise of a “tax law,” called the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. This “tax law” required all those who possessed, transported or grew marijuana to obtain a ‘marijuana tax stamp’ to be able to do these activities. The kicker comes in here: The federal government printed only a few of these stamps. And, to get a stamp, you had to already have the marijuana in your possession. That meant you were breaking the law to get a stamp by not having a stamp! All this was being implemented during that strange time in history when the big ‘pot scare’ was on in United States.
Why was this prohibition a tax law? You may be asking. Well, as the Constitution states, “Congress shall write no law,” – which is a laugh these days – but back then they still had some sort of audacity to uphold the real writings of our founders. So it is a tax law.
I now direct your attention to our country today. Countless cases have been popping up regarding Federal involvement in states issuing medical marijuana. During these ‘stings,’ our federal government sits outside of medical marijuana facilities and arrests old women and men with glaucoma and muscular dystrophy for possession of marijuana. The purpose of the Constitution was to stop this sort of nonsense from happening by giving the power to the states. But since ‘we’ decided to ignore that our states are losing their rights to govern themselves. Medical marijuana is no threat to our national security. It is no threat to anything. Who cares if people are smoking a joint to relieve whatever ails them? I surely do not.
The next issue is that of the industrial growth of hemp. Hemp is not marijuana. You cannot smoke hemp to get high. Still, it is illegal to grow hemp in the United States. Back in the time of Johnstown, VA there was actually a ‘growing law’ that said you HAD to grow marijuana/hemp. Inside the laundry list of excellent things hemp could be used for, one sticks out to me as a damn good reason we should allow the industrial growth of hemp. Hemp can be used to make ethanol-based fuels, bio-diesel fuels, that is. This bio-diesel marvel, called Hemp-o-line, is far more efficient that our current corn-based ethanol. Hemp is easy to grow–after all, it is a weed. Hemp is also far less abrasive on the soil in which it grows. Corn on the other hand, pulls huge amounts of nutrients from the soil that can only be replaced by planting legumes such as soy. Even if we could grow enough corn to power our country, which we cannot, the soil would be so depleted that nothing would ever grow again. Hemp does not need nearly the amount space, nutrients or effort to grow – and, it makes a great fuel.
There you have it, folks. Why not pot? You got me.
Kevin Conner is a third-year student majoring in communications studies with a minor in creative writing. He can be reached at KC651660@wcupa.edu.