Big Business vs Hemp
When the Great Depression came along, Henry Ford and others saw a glimmer of hope for agricultural products being used in industrial applications. Ford had experimented on his own farm growing various plants and settled on hemp and soy as the plants with the most potential. With his financial and political backing, a movement for scientific research of agricultural products for industrial applications was created and known as ‘Farm Chemurgy’.
In 1930, Harry J. Anslinger was appointed the first commissioner to the newly created Federal Bureau Of Narcotics (FBN) by Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew W. Mellon, one of the wealthiest men in America. Mellon was also the uncle of Harry Anslinger’s wife.
Viewing the Farm Chemurgy as a threat, it has been widely speculated that there was a coordinated effort started in the mid 1930’s to end hemp as an industrial competitor by some very wealthy people; Andrew Mellon who gained his wealth through oil, steel, shipbuilding and construction; William Randolph Hearst who owned substantial forest interests to supply newsprint for his many publications; and chemical industrialists, the DuPont family, the makers of many synthetic materials.
They solicited the help of Harry Anslinger and with Hearst’s newspapers, started an anti-marijuana campaign to scare the public by telling them about the evils of marijuana. The American Petroleum Institute, funded by the big oil companies, also joined in. Their lobbying efforts were effective by saying the US government’s plans “robbed taxpayers to make farmers rich.” With Anslinger’s help they were able to associate industrial hemp with marijuana, claiming they were the same. In 1936 the film ‘Reefer Madness’ debuted.
Anslinger was responsible for the “Marijuana Tax Act of 1937” being passed by Congress. The Act placed a tax on any commercially grown hemp, cannabis, or marijuana, lumping them all together. This effectivly eliminated farmers from growing hemp.
Rockefeller and Standard Oil were still in the news at this time and in 1937 the New York Times reported: “He was accused of crushing out competition, getting rich on rebates from railroads, bribing men to spy on competing companies, of making secret agreements, of coercing rivals to join the Standard Oil Company under threat of being forced out of business, building up enormous fortunes on the ruins of other men, and so on.”
In February 1938 the magazine ‘Popular Mechanics’ published an article titled “New Billion-Dollar Crop” which highlighted the many potentials of growing hemp. Read the article here!
With the outbreak of World War II came shortages of many raw materials. Automobile production declined dramatically and many of the factories converted to produce vehicles for the war effort. Ford had continued experimenting with using hemp for fuel and materials. With the renewed interest in hemp, Ford proved the possibilities of hemp by creating his now famous ‘hemp car’ introduced in 1941. The body of the vehicle was constructed from resin stiffened organic fibers including hemp and reportedly it ran on ethanol fuel made from hemp.
The US government used hemp for uniforms, canvas and rope and in 1942 created the film ‘Hemp For Victory’ which promoted the growing of hemp as a necessary crop to help win the war. To help with the sudden increase in production, many German POW’s interned at Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois were used to help in the processing of the hemp crop in late 1943.
Watch Hemp For Victory below!
In 1942, then-Senator (and future president) Harry Truman led a war investigating committee which makes public evidence that the oil industry had colluded with German chemical companies to prevent the development of synthetic rubber production in the United States. Standard Oil (Exxon) had entered into a partnership that it described as a “full marriage” designed to “outlast the war” no matter who won! It is worth mentioning that in 1934 William Randolph Hearst, upon his return from Germany after meeting with Hitler, filled his newspapers with editorials on how bad socialism was and in particular negative articles on the Soviet Union and Stalin. The material supplied to Hearst was provided by the Gestapo, Nazi Germany’s propaganda machine.
After the war ended in 1945, hemp production again went into decline. Hemp and other organic materials were being replaced with the cheaper synthetic fibers made from petroleum products and there was a steady supply of gasoline. And the rich got richer….