People who follow this blog are aware that the federal prohibition on marijuana began in 1937 with the Marihuana Tax Act, despite opposition by the American Medical Association. All 48 states had already made marijuana illegal by 1936, starting in California in 1913.
But medical marijuana use continued. Here, from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, is a 1941 letter from the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Narcotics to a prescription store (pharmacy) requesting information on where he could purchase cannabis indica powder.
Unfortunately, the Marihuana Tax Act priced cannabis medicine out of the hands of most everyone but the well-to-do. Just one year later, cannabis was officially removed from the US Pharmacopeia, effective November 1, 1942. It was another 34 years before Robert Randall won the right in 1976 to receive federal-government-grown medical marijuana.
However, in those intervening 34 years, the federal government ignored or purposefully buried emerging confirmation of the medical utility in cannabis known by humanity for 5,000 years. By the 1950′s, the Boggs Act and Narcotics Control Act made mere possession of marijuana federal crimes, forcing any medical use underground and stifling any medical research. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam in Israel was able to first identify THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis in 1964. By 1975, the federal government was aware of the cancer-fighting potential of cannabinoid medicines.
How much further ahead in the development of serious cancer fighting drugs would we be without this senseless prohibition of marijuana?