It was in October of 1937 that the federal government passed a law making it illegal to grow, possess and use marijuana. It has been classified by the DEA as a level one substance, this despite numerous recent research studies that prove this otherwise.
Interestingly, the federal government lagged behind the states in passing prohibition laws. In fact, it was not until intense pressure was put on the feds by media that it considered passing such laws. Among the most vocal was the Hearst chain of newspapers, who were quick to print slanderous allegations made by groups such as the Women’s Temperance Christian Union.
The allegations made would today seem silly. But they were very powerful at the time. Some of the most outrageous came from law enforcement agents. Kansas police officer L.E. Bowery stated that people under the influence of cannabis were capable of, “great feats of strength and endurance, in which no fatigue is felt…sexual desires are stimulated and may lead to unnatural acts…If continued the inevitable result is insanity…and, without exception, ending in death.” Bowery’s words became scientific proof; even though he had done no formal research and did not hold a medical degree of any kind.
In April of 1937, house bill 6385 was introduced. The bill was designed to curtail the use of marijuana by putting a $100 per ounce tax on the sale of cannabis. Another bill was introduced that would make it illegal to use, sell or buy marijuana. At first, this bill was not looked at seriously because Congress did not think it could pass.
Not surprising, the American Medical Association were the only opponents to the bill citing that to illegalize cannabis would stop patients from getting their medication.
The bill passed both the senate and the house with little debate. Over 850,000 people are arrested in the United States each year on charges relating to marijuana. Since 1965, over 22 million arrests have been made.