Schaffer Online Library of Drug Policy Sign the Resolution for a Federal Commission on Drug Policy


Contents | Feedback | Search | DRCNet Home Page | Join DRCNet

DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library | Hemp (Marijuana) | Marihuana Tax Act of 1937

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937

Transcripts of Congressional Hearings



(The following statements were submitted by Mr. Anslinger)


The origin of this drug is very ancient. In the year 1090 A.D., the religious and military order or sect of the Assassins was founded in Persia and the numerous acts of cruelty of this sect were known not only in Asia, but in Europe as well. This branch of the Shiite sect, known as Ismalites, was called Hashishan, derived from hashish, of the confection of hemp leaves "marihuana". In fact, from the Arabic Hasishan we have the English word "assassin."

The plant was known by the Greeks as "nepenthe" and was lauded in the immortal Odyssey of Homer. It was known in ancient times to the Egyptians, and its use in Egypt at the present time is widespread. Its effect upon the Malays has been terrific and the natives of the Malay Peninsula have been known, while under its influence, to rush out and engage in violent and bloody deeds, with complete disregard for their personal safety, of the odds arrayed against them. to run "amok" in the Malay Peninsula is synonomous with saying one is under the influence of this drug.


Indian hemp is a rough, annual plant, and grows to varying heights, from about 3 to 16 feet. Its stem is erect, branching and angular; the leaves are alternate or opposite and coarsely serrated. Marihuana is the same as Indian hemp, hashish, cannabin, cannabis Americana, or cannabis sativa. Marihuana is the Mexican term for cannabis indica. In the argot of he underworld it has colloquial, colorful names such as reefer, muggles, Indian hay, hot hay, and weed. The drug is known in many countries by a variety of different names. In India it is known as bhang and ganja; as dagga in Africa.

the term "cannabis" in the Geneva Convention of 1925 and in the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act included only the dried flowering or fruiting tops of the pistillate plant as the source of the dangerous resin. Research during the past few months shows conclusively that this definition is insufficient, as we have found by experiment that the leaves of the pistillate plant as well as the leaves of the staminate plant contain the active principal up to 50 percent of the U.S.P. strength. Accordingly, we are urging the several states to revise their definition to include all parts of the plant, as it now appears that the seeds and portions other than the dried flowering tops contain positively dangerous substances. We have been anticipating a challenge of the old definition in the courts and only a few weeks ago a defendant in a case in Florida in appealing to the higher court of that State said:

"We are of the opinion, therefore, that the information was insufficient to clearly apprise the accused of the nature and cause of the accusation against him because of the sale of cigarettes containing cannabis from which the resin had not been abstracted may relate to the resin of the staminate plant, the resin of which appears to be harmless."

This challenge demonstrates the advisability of making our definition all-inclusive, which has been done with respect to the bill under discussion, H.R. 6385.


The toxic effects produced by "cannabin", the active narcotic principal of the cannabis sativa, hemp, or marihuana, appear to be exclusively to the higher nerve centers. The drug produces first an exaltation with a feeling of well-being; a happy, jovial mood, usually; and increased feeling of physical strength and power; and a general euphoria is experienced. Accompanying this exaltation is a stimulation of the imagination, followed by a more-or-less delirious state characterized by vivid kaleidoscopic visions, sometimes of a pleasing sensual kind, but occasionally of a gruesome nature. Accompanying this delirious state is a remarkable loss in spatial and time relations; persons and things in the environment look small; time is interminable; seconds seem like minutes and hours like days. Let us think, for instance, of what might happen if a person under its influence were driving a high-powered automobile.

Those who are habitually accustomed to use of the drug are said to develop a delirious rage after its administration, during which they are temporarily, at least, irresponsible and liable to commit violent crimes. The prolonged use of this narcotic is said to produce mental deterioration. It apparently releases inhibitions of an antisocial nature whichh dwell within the individual.

It is said that the Mohammedan leaders, opposing the Crusaders, utilized the services of individuals addicted to the use of hashish for secret murders.

Despite the fact that medical men and scientists have disagreed upon the properties of marihuana, and some are inclined to minimize the harmfulness of this drug, the records offer ample evidence that it has a disastrous effect upon many of its users. Recently we have received many reports showing the crimes of violence committed by persons while under the influence of marihuana.

The effect of the use of the drug depends largely upon the individual. Among some people the dreams produced are usually of an erotic character, but the principal effect is on the mind which seems to lose the power of directing and controlling its thoughts. Then follow errors of sense, false convictions and the predominance of extravagant ideas where all sense of value seems to disappear.

The deleterious, even vicious, qualities of the drug render it highly dangerous to the mind and body upon which it operates to destroy the will, cause one to lose the power of connected thought, producing imaginary delectable situations and gradually weakening the physical powers. Its use frequently leads to insanity.

I have statement here, giving an outline off cases reported to the Bureau or in the press, wherein the use of marihuana is connected with revolting crimes.


The rapid development of a widespread traffic in marihuana during the past several years, particularly during 1935 and 1936 is a matte of grave national concern. About ten years ago there was little traffic in marihuana except in parts of the Southwest. The weed now grows wild in almost every state in the Union, is easily obtainable, and has come to be widely abused in many states. The situation is especially fraught with danger because this drug is being carried as a new habit to circles which heretofore have not been contaminated. Incomplete reports that have come to my attention during the past year on marihuana seizures effected throughout the country by state authorities show the existence of a dangerous and rapidly increasing traffic in this drug in at least 29 states.

(Included Table - Page 30)

Three hundred and thirty-eight arrests for violations during 1936, but this by no means represents extent of traffic, because not many of the states have actually begun real enforcement as against marijuana -- many of the states lack special enforcement facilities and require education of their enforcement officers in the detection and prevention of marihuana traffic, especially in identifying the drug.


All of the states now have some type of legislation directed against the traffic in marihuana for improper purposes. There is no legislation in effect with respect to the District of Columbia dealing directly with marihuana traffic. There is unfortunately a loophole in much of this state legislation because of a too narrow definition of the term. Few of the states have a special narcotic law enforcement agency and, speaking generally, considerable training of the regular polce officers of the states will be required together with increased enforcement facilities before a reasonable measure of effectiveness under the state laws can be achieved.


Even in states which have legislation controlling in some degree the marihuana traffic, public officials, private citizens, and the press have urged or suggested the need for national legislation dealing with this important problem. A partial list of states wherein officials or the press have urged the need for Federal legislation on the subject are Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

The uniform state narcotic law has now been adopted by some 35 states, many of these including cannabis or marihuana within the scope of control by that law. However, it has been recently learned that the legislative definition of cannabis in most of these laws is too narrow, and it will be necessary to have the definition amplified in amendatory legislation in most of the states, to accord with the definition in the pending Federal bill. As is the case at present with respect to opium, coca leaves, and their respective alkaloids, the uniform state law does not completely solve the enforcement problem with respect to marihuana but it will provide the necessary supplement to the Federal act and permit cooperation of state an Federal forces, each acting within its respective sphere, toward suppression of traffic for abusive use, no matter in what form the traffic is conducted. The Bureau of Narcotics, under the Marihuana Taxing Act, would continue to act as an informal coordinating agency in the enforcement of the uniform state law, exchanging information as between the respective state authorities in methods of procedure and attempting to secure true uniformity in the enforcement of the act in the various states which have adopted it.


The United Sates is not a party to the Geneva Convention of 1925 which includes Indian hemp in the classes of drugs with respect to which the convention operates. It is a party to the Hague Convention of 1912 and the Manufacturing Limitation Convention of 1931, under both of which it submits complete reports of progress in enforcement to the League of Nations (insofar as opium, coca leaves, and their alkaloids are concerned.) The United States goes beyond the letter of its obligations under the last-mentioned conventions in international cooperation with respect to opium and coca leaves and their alkaloids. It is only with respect to cannabis (marihuana) that it cannot afford complete cooperation with other countries, since it is obviously handicapped by the lack of national drug legislation which would permit a reasonable degree of control over this drug and afford a direct means of information concerning the trend of the traffic. The United States has more than kept pace with other world powers in the united battle against the opium, morphine, and cocaine traffic; it continues to fall behind in the international movement directed against the use of marihuana. The importation and exportation of marihuana, with respect to the United States is practically unrestricted, and on once occasion the attention of the Bureau was called to an excess exportation of cannabis, by one of our exporters, to England, When the British governmental agency called attention to this exportation of a quantity from the United States in excess of the British import certificate, we were in the humiliating position of informing it that our laws did not cover cannabis, and remedial action had to be limited to a warning to the exporter -- not that he was violating a law of the United States, but an admonition that he would please refrain from violating the British laws.

Alamosa Daily Courier

Alamosa, Colorado, September 4, 1936

United States Treasury Department

Bureau of Narcotics

Gentlemen: Two weeks ago a sex-mad degenerate, named Lee Fernandez, brutally attacked a young Alamosa girl. He was convicted of assault with intent to rape and sentenced to 10 to 14 years in the state penitentiary. Police officers here know definitely that Fernandez was under the influence of marihuana.

But this case is one in hundreds of murders, rapes, petty crimes, insanity that has occurred in southern Colorado in recent years.

The laws of this state make the first offense of using, growing, or selling marihuana a mere misdemeanor. The second offense constitutes a felony.

Indian hemp grows wild within the limits of this city. It is clandestinely planted in practically every county in this section. Its use amounts to a near traffic in drugs.

The people and officials here want to know why something can't be done about marihuana. The sheriff, district attorney, and city police are making every effort to destroy this menace. Our paper is carrying on an educational campaign to describe the weed and tell of its horrible effects.

Your bulletins on traffic in opium and other dangerous drugs state that the production and use of Indian hemp are not prohibited by Federal law. Why?

Is there any assistance your Bureau can give us in handling this drug? Can you suggest campaigns? Can you enlarge your Department to deal with marihuana? Can you do anything to help us?

I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents. That's why our problem is so great; the greatest percentage of our population is composed of Spanish-speaking persons, most of who are low mentally, because of social and racial conditions.

While marihuana has figured in the greater number of crimes in the past few years, officials fear it, not for what it has done, but for what it is capable of doing. They want to check it before an outbreak does occur. Did you read of the Drain murder case in Pueblo recently? Marihuana is believed to have been used by one of the bloody murderers.

Through representatives of civic leaders and law officers of the San Luis Valley, I have been asked to write to you for help. Any help you can give us will be most heartily appreciated.

Very sincerely yours,

Floyd K. Baskette

City Editor, The Alamosa Daily Courier


(By Dr. Frank R. Gomila, commissioner of public safety, and Miss Madeline C. Gomila, assistant city chemist)

Many papers have been written on the effects, physical and mental, of the marihuana weed. Some of the best descriptions that we have read can be found in Bromberg's (1) paper called Marihuana Intoxication; Bragman's (2) Toxic Effects - Weed of Insanity; and Kingman's (3) Green Goddess. But talking and writing of the various results that ensue from constant use of this weed in no way impresses the reading public with the seriousness of the problem that faces it today.

To our knowledge, this is the first time that such a paper as this will be presented. After searching the literature thoroughly we could find no complete record of the situation in this country. We have not deluded ourselves into believing that the information compiled her is in any way a complete record of the situation, but we do believe that it is the best that can be obtained. The difficulty encountered is that any drug addiction is such a secretive affair that not even the authorities in charge know all the culprits. Also, we have encountered some rather unexpected reluctance on the part of some of the state authorities to furnish the information. The large gaps in the table that we compiled are due to this lack of information.

Referring to Table 1, we find that 46 out of 48 states, or 94 percent, have found it necessary to pass some legislation against the use, possession, and sale of this menacing weed. the urgent reason for all these laws was that in many states the discovery was made that scores of youngsters of high school age had become victims of the weed. It was only last year that the St. Louis Star Times in a series of newspaper articles, led the people of Missouri in a stirring fight for the passage of a state law for the protection of their children. Quoting from the St. Louis Start-Times of February 4, 1935, we read: "Those acquainted with the traffic say there are more women smokers than men. If you are a 'right guy' a 'giggle smoke' is available in places of lenient morals and may be purchased from a 'bystander' in many of the cheaper downtown resorts.

"One gentleman of the byways explained, 'The worst thing about that loco weed is the way these kids go for them. Most of them, boys and girls, are just punks and when they get high on the stuff you can write your own ticker.'" (4)

The article goes on to tell how, when the number of muggle smokers increased, marihuana dives came into existence. Here is a description, "The windows were covered with blankets and a single electric bulb flickers through smoke so dense you can barely see across the room. A dozen person around a penny-ante poker game. They range from boys of 16 to men in their late 20's, all in a state of dazed exhilaration.

"There are only a few rickety charis and the table for furnishings and the gang lolls about the room, some chasing cheap whisky with long muggles drags, others content to smoke, laugh vacuously and 'walk on air.'" (5)

Still quoting from the St. Louis Star-Times of an earlier date we find the case of a young high school student reported. "A case in point is that of a young man, an intelligent high school student, now confined to an institution for the mentally diseased. His experience is entirely the result of acquiring the habit of smoking marihuana cigarettes.

"One of his friends said to a Star-Times reporter, calling the youth by name, 'He was a swell fellow until marihuana got him. Like the rest of us, he thought the weed wasn't habit-forming and had no idea of the possible consequences of smoking it. He smoked so many he couldn't quit. finally he went crazy and his folks put him in a sanitarium.'" (6) From this same article we read: "'Weed' smoking among young St. Louisians appears to be chiefly confined to boys. Girls who indulge do so largely as a result of association with boys who smoke the drug."

"A girl student, still in her teens told a reporter she had seen some of her friends under the influence and named a boy and a girl who lost their senses so completely after smoking marihuana that they eloped and were married.

"'Another boy I know got the habit so bad he didn't have enough money to buy all the cigarettes he craved. To get the money he stole jewelry from his mother while under the influence of marihuana and pawned it. He was arrested, but when his mother found out who the thief was she naturally dropped her complaint.

"'I know at least 20 boys, some of them in school, whom I have seen smoking marihuana cigarettes. Sometimes three or four of them crowd into a telephone booth and puff on a single cigarette.

"'Several girls I know have smoked marihuana and I smoked with them, but I've decided its bad business and haven't smoked lately.

"'Sometimes we would go to a beer tavern and smoke, the boys always supplying the muggles.'"

Referring to table II, we find then that Colorado reports that the Mexican population there cultivates on an average of 2 to 3 tons of the weed annually. This the Mexicans make into cigarettes, which they sell at two for 25 cents, mostly to white high school students. Strangely enough, it has been noted that when this weed is grown at altitudes considerably higher than sea level, it is much more potent. Colorado, a state that has an average altitude than sea level (sic), can therefore grow a plant that is much more powerful than one grown in Louisiana. (8)

From Massachusetts we learn that cigarettes sell for 25 cents apiece and that they are chiefly used among the younger people between the ages of 18 and 21. In Louisiana the age range is 18-37 years. Minnesota, like Missouri, has its difficulties with high school addicts. Oklahoma is another of the afflicted states,. Reports state that the weed is used widely among the high school students there.

The tragic picture of all these youngsters coming under the influence of the drug certainly must have some significance. It means that more drastic action is necessary. All these states have passed laws concerning this drug but though the law has curbed the use of marihuana to a certain degree it has by no means eradicated it. This is still a very important problem. Why shouldn't our Federal government, with its wheels of action already set in motion, take over the control of the use of this dangerous drug in the United States? We said "wheels of action, already set in motion", because in many large cities the Federal narcotic squads are cooperating with the local police in stamping out the danger threatened by this drug. The states, individually, are doing what they can, though in many instances they are sorely handicapped by lack of experience with this problem, insufficient funds and ignorance of the proper methods. Referring to Table 1, again, we find that the narcotic squad is even now helping curb this menace in Louisiana, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Wyoming.

In New Orleans we were called in a case in which Federal narcotics agents had made the wholesale arrests of 36 peddlers simultaneously. This is just one case out of many handled by the Federal men this year. These men are more thoroughly trained and much better equipped to handle the situation than the local police. Certainly our government could help out in this deplorable situation by amending the Harrison Narcotic Act to include marihuana as a potent and dangerous drug. As long ago as 1931 our country was one among 57 other countries that met at Geneva Switzerland, in order to draw up a treaty convention for restricting the manufacture and cultivation of narcotic drugs. Included among the narcotics listed by this treaty convention is marihuana. by the end of the year 1935, 55 nations had ratified this convention, the United States being the second nation to do so in 1932. Why then should our Government ratify this treaty convention and not include marihuana in our own Harrison Narcotic Act(11)?

The increasing prevalence of this menace is another matter for serious thought. From Table 1, we find that eight states enacted legislation against the use, sale, and possession of this weed in 1935 and 1936. by glancing over Table II you'll find that New York State alone destroyed 187 tons of the weed in 1935. There seems to be no shortage there. In Louisiana, in recent months, the state police have destroyed more weed here than every before. there are many states in a similar dilemma. This problem seems in no way to be solved butt on the contrary is growing to be a more dangerous one every day.

From table II we ascertain that out of 450 persons arrested in New Orleans, La. in 1934, 125 were marihuana addicts; out of 37 murders 177 were addicted to the use of marihuana, and out of 193 convicted of thefts, 34 were under the influence of this drug. Therefore, the ratio is that approximately 1 out of every 4 persons arrested in this city has become a victim of this dangerous drug. (12)

In the state of New Mexico, 4 percent of the inmates of the penitentiary are confessed users of the weed. In New York we find that ten percent of all the narcotic violators are marihuana cases. The warden of the state penitentiary in North Dakota reports that some of the prisoners are addicted to the drug but that there are none there at present. In Minnesota 10 out of 348 cases at the reformatory confessed to being addicts, while in Mississippi 6 confessed users were arrested. Illinois reports having arrested 30 marihuana addicts since 1933.

In the case of the city of New Orleans, if we refer to table III for the year 1936, we find that in the first 4 months of that year 36 arrests were made. This number does not include the arrests made by the Federal narcotics men which greatly exceeds this figure. If we consider this figure 36 as an average figure for that period we find that the total number of arrests for the year of 1936 will substantially exceed the total for any one of the preceding years. This is a significant fact and proves that the danger is growing instead of abating.

Practically every article written on the effects of the marihuana weed will tell of deeds committed without the knowledge of the culprit, while he was under the influence of this drug. There are many arguments for and against this statement, and many cases reported which uphold it, and still others which contradict it. Our opinion is that both arguments for and against are correct because of the inconsistency of the action of this drug on individual victims. The reactions resulting depend to a large extent on the innate characteristics of the individual. The person who is so unfortunate as to come under the influence of this drug, in many cases, becomes the unwilling offender of the law because the central nervous system has become affected, as is the case with other habit-forming drugs. As a representative case, note the tragic predicament of this Californian. "A man under the influence of marihuana actually decapitated his best friend; and then, coming out of the effects of the drug, was as horrified aas anyone over what he had done" (9). Then we have the case of a young boy in Florida. The story runs as follows: "A young boy who had become addicted to smoking marihuana cigarettes, in a fit of frenzy because, as he stated while still under the marihuana influence, a number of people were trying to cut off his arms and legs, seized an axe and killed his father, mother, two brothers and a sister, wiping out the entire family except himself." (10)

Those of us who are native New Orleanians must well remember the tragic incident that happened in our city last year. In a downtown section a man under the influence of the weed became so frenzied and angered at his wife as to kill her out on the street in front of many witnesses.

These are only three cases of which there are hundreds. Each one is a blot on the history of the State where the crime was committed and so it is very difficult to unearth such information.

Is marihuana sufficiently like any other habit-forming drug that it should receive recognition as a real menace? For an answer we have only to glance over table IV, where we find that in comparison with other habit-forming drugs, heroin, morphine, opium, and cocaine, marihuana has an established place. Like these drugs named, it , too, derives it effects chiefly from resultant changes to the central nervous system. It decreases pain and in certain instances dispenses it completely. Comparable to the other drugs mentioned, a certain amount of tolerance is set up rather easily with marihuana.

In its action of depression and stimulation it is very much like that noted under small doses of morphine. Habit-forming drugs in ever case disturb the vision and heart. In this instance marihuana reacts like cocaine, in that the pupils become dilated and the pulse is accelerated. Habitual use of heroin weakens judgment, self-control, and attention. IN this sense, marihuana is like heroin as constant use results in loss of judgment and measurement of time and space. Marihuana makes the imagination run rampant and the dreams that result are as extravagant as those reported by opium eaters. Social dangers that ensue from the use of marihuana are comparable to those that result from heroin. The heroin habit produces an utter disregard for conventions and moral; similar results ensue from the smoking of the weed. Here, however, the skeptic has a point which he can dispute. The action of marihuana is much less constant than heroin, as it depends to a certain extent on the disposition and intellectual activity of the victim. However, we must remind friend skeptic that the great majority of users are ignorant and inexperienced youngsters and members of the lowest strata of humanity. When you think this fact over there should be no room for argument on that point.

After an exhaustive search on marihuana from its earliest history to the present time, it is easy to see that the destruction of the plant is absolutely essential in all communities in this country. To this end we believe that the members of the Orleans Parish Medical Society should lend their wholehearted cooperation.

In conclusion we wish to state that we have proved conclusively:

1. The seriousness of the problem as it concerns youngsters who are willing to take a chance at all times.

2. The increasing prevalence of this menace which results in a large percentage of criminal users.

3. The tragedy of persons who use the weed becoming unwilling offenders of the law because the central nervous system has been so affected.

Table III -- Statistics of number of arrests, number of cigarettes confiscated, and pounds of weed destroyed in the city of New Orleans for the years of 1928 to April, 1936.

Year Number of arrests Number of white arrests Number of colored arrests Number color not recorded Number of cigarettes confiscated Pounds of weed confiscated
1928-29 19 9 6 4 406 4.2 ounces
1930 30 17 4 9 527 27 pounds, 10 ounces, 7 stalks of freshly cut herb
1931 18 6 1 11 405 2 pounds, 6 ounces
1932 20 11 5 4 94 1 pound 2 ounces
1933 13 6 3 4 62 1 ounce
1934 20 9 7 4 236 3 pounds, 6.4 ounces; 2 3/4 pounds seeds and fragments of leaves
1935 82 22 32 28 2,752 3 pounds, 11 ounces
1936 (January through April 36 18 15 3 149 3.01 ounces

Table IV. An interesting comparison of the action of heroin, morphine, opium, cocaine, and marihuana

Heroin Morphine and opium Cocaine Marihuana
Action on cerebrum and medulla seems to be stronger than morphine. Senses dulled. Decided action on cerebrum and medulla. Depression of sensibility. Most important effect is that on central nervous system. Applied locally, paralyzes sensory nerve terminations. Injections anesthetize all areas where drug penetrates, complete loss of sensation in lower part of body but movements unimpaired. Effects due chiefly to changes in central nervous system.

Sensation of pain decreased or entirely absent. Sense of touch dulled.

Tolerance set up rapidly Tolerance easily maintained for large doses. Tolerance can be attained by habitual use. Some tolerance is rapidly acquired.
Has little effect in intestines. Movement of bowels irregular.

Depression and stimulation follow each other in rapid fashion.

Movement of intestines are augmented.

Depression succeeds stimulation in some order; 2 statges not divided and often overlap.

Causes diarrhea.

Depression and stimulation that results is comparable to that noted under small doses of morphine.

Vision disturbed. Pupils contracted Pupils dilated. Pupils dilated.
Slow small pulse Heart irregular

Appetite bad

Pulse accelerated

Loss of appetite

Pulse accelerated.

Appetite increased.

Judgment, self-control attention weakened; resembles morphine in its general effects Results in nervousness, weak character and lack of energy; utterly unfit for work unless supplied with drug; tremors and unsteadiness in walking may be apparent. Reflexes more easily excited. tremors or slight convulsive movements often occur; has surprising power of removing fatigue; small doses, mental powers increased; large doses stimulant effect spreads to lower areas and produces a great increase of movement. Results in loss of judgment; imagination runs rampant; measurement of time and space lost; dream state followed by unconsciousness and then by restful sleep; action less constant that any other drug; depends greatly on disposition and intellectual activity of victim; large doses result in loud disturbances and violence
Social dangers greater that in the case of morphine as it produces marked changes in personality, utter disregard for conventions and morals; degenerative changes in individual progress more rapidly than in the case of any other drug; addict quickly becomes a mental and moral degenerate. No evidence of physical deterioration or unfitness from addiction to drug. Melancholia and dementia follow continued use of drug. Sleeplessness, tremors, occasional convulsions and hallucinations often occur, also delirium, indefinite disturbances of sensation and motion; mental, moral, and physical deterioration more rapid than in the case of morphinism. Often produces disregard for conventions and morals.
Habit most difficult to cure. Habit difficult to cure; relapses after withdrawal are exceedingly common. View of some doctors is that habit can be broken as easily as smoker's habit, as there seems to be no after effects upon withdrawal. Habit can be easily broken as there are no withdrawal effects, but as is the case with all drugs the increased desire due to abstinence causes continued relapses.


(1) American Journal of Psychiatry, Marihuana Intoxication, Clinical Study of Cannabis Sativa Intoxication. Walter Bromberg, Volume 91, Pages 303-330, September, 1934.

(2) Medical Journal and Record, The Weed Insanity. Louis J. Bragman, Syracuse, NY, October 7, 1925, pages 416-417.

(3) Ibid., October 19, 1927, pages 470-475. The Green Goddess (A Studyin Dreams, Drugs, and Dementia). Robert Kingman, Brooklyn, NY

(4) St. Louis Star Times, February 4, 1935. Louisville Paper Finds Marihuana a Menace There.

(5) Ibid.

(6) St.. Louis Star Times, January 18, 1935. Young Slaves to Dope Cigaret Pay Tragic Price For Their Folly. Hulius Kleen.

(7) Ibid.

(8) World Narcotic Defense Association. Marihuana or Indian Hemp and Its Preparations.

(9) Ibid.

(10) Ibid.

(11) World Narcotic Defense Association. Narcotic Drug Addiction and How to Fight It.

(12) World Narcotic Defense Association. Marihuana or Indian Hemp and Its Preparations. US Treasury Department, Bureau of Narcotics, Washington, DC, Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, 1934. Cushny's Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Edmunds and Gunn, pages 278-293, 1934.

The New Orleans Times-Tribune

Cannabis. W. G. Walker, Chief, Division of Narcotic Enforcement, San Francisco, California, July 1, 1934.

Annual Report on Narcotic to Governor Lehman for 1935, New York State.

Legal Mediciine and Toxicology. Webster, W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, United States of America, 1930.


(By Eugene Stanley, district attorney, parish of Orleans, New Orleans, La.)

Many prosecuting attorneys in the South and Southwest have been confronted with the defense that, at the time of the commission of the criminal act, the defendant was irresponsible, because he was under the influence of marihuana to such a degree he was unable to appreciate the difference between right and wrong, and was legally insane. A great deal of difficulty has been experienced in rebutting this defense by the testimony of psychiatrists, for, while some of these experts are conversant with the nature and effect of this drug, it has been the experience of the author that many psychiatrists know nothing whatsoever of the effect of the drug.

This may be due to the fact that this drug has come into wide use in certain parts of the South only within the last 10 years.

It is the purpose of this article to give a brief outline of the nature and origin of this drug, the legislation enacted which prohibits its sale and use, to recommend that this drug be placed within the provisions of the Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act, and to give a list of some of the works which may be consulted by any persons interested in making a thorough study of the drug.


The plant or drug known as Cannabis indica, or marihuana, has as its parent the plant known as Cannabis Sativa.

It is popularly known in India as Cannabis Indica,; in America, as Cannabis americana; in Mexico as Cannabis mexicana, or marihuana.

It is all the same drug, and is known in different countries by different names. It is scientifically known as Cannabis sativa, and is popularly called Cannabis americana, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis mexicana, in accordance with the geographical origin of the particular plant.

In the East it is known as charras, as gunga, as hasheesh, as bhang, or siddi, and it is known by a variety of names in the countries of continental Europe.

Cannabis sativa is an annual herb from the "hemp" plant; it has angular, rough stems and deeply lobed leaves.

It is derived from the flowering tops of the female plant of hemp grown in semi-tropical and temperate countries. It was once thought that only the plant grown in India was active, but it has been scientifically determined that the American specimen termed "marihuana" or "muggles" is equal in potency to the best weed of India. The plant is a moraceous herb.

In the South, amongst the Negroes, it is termed "mooter".

In India, where the plant is scientifically cultivated on a wide scale for the drug obtained from it, the plants, when small, are separated, the female plant being used exclusively for the purpose of obtaining the drug.

In Mexico and in America, the plants are permitted to grow together indiscriminately, without separating the male and female plants, so that the potency of the female plant is lessened by the admixture of the male element.

In semitropical climates, because of the fertility of the soil and the ease with which hemp seed may be procured, the plant can be easily cultivated, and prohibition of the actual cultivation is rendered practically impossible. It resembles a weed, and has been found growing in some of the back yards and lots of the cities. the traffic in the plant , and the drug derived therefrom, has been found to be considerable, particularly in the South and Southwestern States.


Hemp is cultivated all over the world; its culture probably originated in China, from whence it spread. It is cultivated for three purposes; For the fiber, out of which rope, twine, cloth, and hats are made; for the seed, from which a rapidly drying oil is obtained that is used in the arts and as a commercial substitute for linseed oil; and for the narcotic contained in the resin of the dried, flowering tops of the pistillate plant. The seed is also sold as a constituent of commercial bird seed.

Hemp is grown in the New England Colonies for fiber used in the making of homespun. It was also grown in the Virginia and Pennsylvania Colonies and cultivated at an early date in the settlements of Kentucky, from whence the industry spread to Missouri. Hemp has been grown at various times in Illinois, near Champagne; in the Kankakee River Valley, in Indiana;; in southeastern Pennsylvania, and in Nebraska, Iowa, and California. It is now abundant as a wild plant in many localities in Western Missouri, Iowa, Southern Minnesota, and in the southwestern and western states, where it is often found as a roadside weed. It is not known when the plant was introduced into Mexico, and the southwest, but probably along with the early Spanish settlements. It was introduced into Chile in the 16th Century.

The early cultivation of hemp in the United States was of the small European variety, but this has been replaced since 1857 by the larger Chinese hemp. Practically all the seed for present-day American hemp culture is grown in the Kentucky River Valley.


Cannabis Sativa is designated as a "narcotic" in a number of State laws. It is sometimes mentioned in the laws as "loco weed" because of its inebriate effect upon men and cattle; in others a "marihuana", "hemp", or "hashish"; in fact, the drug is known by a wide variety of names.

It is one of the several drugs included under the antinarcotic laws of 17 States, namely Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Utah, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa. It is also prohibited under the laws of Mexico and England.

In a great many of the states where this legislation was enacted, so widespread was the use of marihuana, and so terrific the result, that grave emergencies were declared to exist which justified the legislation taking effect immediately.

The restrictions respecting the smoking of "hemp" are mentioned along with those restricting opium smoking.

Although the different forms of the plant have been described under different botanical names, there are no essential differences in any of the specific characteristics, and all cultivated or wild hemp is now recognized as belonging to one species - Cannabis sativa.


The origin of the drug is very ancient.

In the year 1090 A.D. the religious and military order or sect of the Assassins was founded in Persia, and the numerous acts of cruelty of this sect was known not only in Asia, but in Europe as well. This branch of the Shiite sect, known as Ismalites, was called Hashishan, derived from Hashish, or the confection of the hemp leaves (Cannabis indica).

In fact, from the Arabic "Hashishan" we have the English word "Assassin". It is mentioned in the Arabian Knights, and was known at the time of the Crusaders. It is known to the Greeks as "Nepenthe", and was lauded in the immortal Odyssey of Homer as a drug to lull all pain and anger, and to bring forgetfulness of all sorrow.

It was known in ancient times to the Egyptians, and its use in Egypt, at the present time is widespread.

In fact, it is presently as widely used amongst the Egyptians, and in the East, as opium is used by the Chinese, and alcohol by the Americans and Europeans. Its effect upon the Malays has been terrific, and the natives of the Malayan Peninsula have been known, while under its influence, to rush out and engage in violent or bloody deeds, with complete disregard for their personal safety, or the odds arrayed against them. To run "amok" in the Malayan Peninsula is synonymous with saying one is under the influence of this drug.

In America, particularly in the South and Southwestern portions of the United States, it is called marihuana. It is popularly known amongst the criminal element as "muggles", or "mooter" and addicts are commonly termed "muggle heads."


The flowering tops of the female plant are the source from which the drug is obtained, and in American these flowering tops are gathered and rolled into cigarettes and smoked, the smoke being inhaled.

A favorite method of smoking these cigarettes is for a person to draw into the mouth the smoke from one of these cigarettes and to blow the smoke from the mouth against the cupped hands, and then inhale the smoke.

In India, marihuana or "muggles" is mostly used in "ganja" form, which is the Indian name for a mixture of the stems, leaves, and flowering tops of the cultivate female plants. It is smoked, as in America, in the form of cigarettes, or in the pipe; its smell is typically offensive, and is easily recognized by the initiated.

In Inida, Bhang, or siddi, are the Indian names for the mixture of these dry leaves and capsules without stems, whether male or female, cultivated, or in its wild state. It is the cheapest and the weakest of all the preparations of hashish, and is taken as tea.

In India, the resinous substance which exudes from the flowering head of the female plant is called "chearris", and is either smoked or taken in pills or in confections, or mixed with sugar or honey, and is commonly sold amongst the bazaars of Egypt and the Far East.

In many respects, the action of cannabis sativa is similar to that of alcohol or morphine. Its toxic effects are ecstasy, merriment, uncontrollable laughter, self-satisfaction, bizarre ideas lacking in continuity, and its results are extreme hyperacidity, with occasional attacks of nausea and vomiting. It has also been described as producing, in moderate doses, from a mild intoxication to a dead drunk, a drowsy and semicomatose condition, lapsing into a dreamy state, with a rapid flow of ideas of a sexual nature and ending in a deep sleep, interrupted by dreams. On awakening, there is a feeling of great dejection and prostration.

Large doses produce excitement, delusions hallucinations, rapid flow of ideas, a high state of ecstasy, psychomotor activity with a tendency to willful damage and violence, and a temporary amnesia of all that has transpired. In cases of prolonged addiction, especially in the Malays, the somnolent action of Cannabis indica is replaced with complete loss of judgment and restraint, the same effects so frequently observed in alcohol intoxication.

It is commonly used as an aphrodisiac, and its continued use leads to impotency. This has been observed among the natives of India.

It is an ideal drug to quickly cut off inhibitions.

At the time of the founding of the religious sect of the "Assassins" in Persia, by Hassan Ben Sabbat, young men whom the sheik desired to subjugate were given this drug, and when under its influence, were taken, blindfolded, into the garden of the sheik, where every pleasure which appealed to the sense awaited them.

When complete indulgence in these pleasures were had, they were taken from this garden, and so eager were they for a further opportunity to use this drug and a repetition of these pleasures, that they were under the complete domination of the sheik, who alone knew the secret of this drug, and gladly followed his will, even to the extent of sacrificing their lives is he commanded them to do so, in order to further experience the pleasures to which they had been initiated.

At the present time, the underworld has been quick to realize the value of this drug in subjugating the will of human derelicts to that of the master mind. Its use sweeps away all restraint, and to its influence may be attributed many of our present day crimes.

It has been the experience of the police and prosecuting officials in the South that immediately before the commission of many crimes the use of marihuana cigarettes has been indulged in by many criminals, so as to relieve themselves from a sense of natural restraint which might deter them from the commission of these criminal acts, and to give them the false courage necessary to commit the contemplated crime.


Indian hemp (marihuana) addicts were made eligible for treatment in recent legislation enacted by the Seventieth Congress, approved January 19, 1929, establishing narcotic farms for the confinement and treatment of persons addicted to the use of habit-forming narcotic drugs.

This legislation is somewhat unique in congressional legislation, since Indian hemp is not classified as a habit-forming drug or narcotic in other Federal narcotic laws.

Inasmuch as the harmful effects of the use of the drug is becoming more widely known each day, and it has been classed as a narcotic by the statutory laws of 17 American states, England, and Mexico, and persons addicted to its use have been made eligible for treatment in the United States narcotics farms, the United States Government, unquestionably, will be compelled to adopt a consistent attitude toward this drug, and include it in the Harrison antinarcotic law, so as to give Federal aid to the States in their effort to suppress a traffic as deadly and as destructive to society as the traffic in the other forms of narcotics now prohibited by the Harrison Act.


See American Illustrated Medical Dictionary (Dorland, 1927) "Marihuana."

Arny, Henry V. Principles of Pharmacy (3rd Ed.) Philadelphia and London, W. B. Saunders Co. (1926, 1978pp. Cannabis, pp 767-768, Reference p. 779)

(Bethea) Materia Medica and Prescription Writing (1926 pp. 114-15)

Boyce, Sidney S. Hemp (Cannabis Sativa), a practical treatise on the culture of hemp for seed and fiber, with a sketch of the history and nature of the hemp plant. New York, Orange Judd Co. (1900, 112 pp)

Briosi, Giovanni, Interno alla anatomia canapa (Cannabis sativa) Milano, Tip. Bernardoni di C. Rebeschini (cc. 1894-96, 2 v., bibliografia; ff. 1 pp. 2-28; v. 2, pp. 14-38)

Century Dictionary and Encyclopedia (vol. 12, pp. 771, 1909).

Daggett, Charles H. Theory of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Philadelphia and New York, Lea & Febiger, 1910 (539 pp. Cannabis Indica; p. 480).

Edmunds, C. W. and J. A. Gunn. A textbook of pharmacology and therapeutics (9th ed.) , Philadelphia, Lea & Febiger, 1928 (743 pp. Cannabis; pp. 280-282)

Evers, Norman and G. D. Elsdon. The analysis of drugs and chemicals. London C.Griffin & Co. (1929, 372 pp. Cannabis Indica; p. 190)

India. Department of Finance and Commerce. Indian Hemp Drugs Commission (No. 1369 ex. Government of India, Calcutta, 1925 23 pp.)

-- Memorandum on excise administration in India, so far as it is concerned with hemp drugs * * * (3d, 1. e. 2d ed.; Simla, Printed at the government central printing office 1902, 22 pp.)

-- Hemp Drugs Commission. Report, Simla, printed at the government central printing office (1894 7 v.)

--- Supplementary Volume. Answers received to selected questions for the native army. * * * Calcutta, 1895 (186 pp)

-- Supplementary Volume. Evidence of witnesses from nattive states. Calcutta, office of the superintendent of government printing, India, 1895 (218 pp.)

Marshall C. R. The active principle of Indian hemp; a preliminary communication. Lancet (London), Jan.23 1897 (pt. 1, pp. 235-238)

Marihuana (Mex) In Mexico, any one of several plants having narcotic properties; in many localities; Cannabis indica and in the State of Sonora, Nicotiana glauca.

Medical -- Jurisprudence & Technology, Prof. Jno. Glaister and Hon. Jno. Glaister, Jr. (5th Ed. 1931) Wm. Wood & Co., New York, E & S Livingstone, Edinburgh (p. 849)

Merck's Index; an encyclopedia for the chemist, pharmacist, and physician (4th ed.), Rahway, NJ Merck & co., Inc. (19330, 585 pp), Cannabis (p. 147)

Moreau Jacques J. Du hachich et de l'alienation mentale. Etudes psychologiques. Paris, Fortin Masson et cie, 1845 (431 pp).

Munch, James Clyde. "Bioassays; a handbook of quantitative pharmacology", Baltimore, the William & Wilkins Co., 1931 (pp. 190-197) An article on the subject, including a few references in the text (covers, pp. 67 -88)

Orleans Parish Medical Society. the Marihuana Menace, by Dr. A. E. Fossier.

Perez, Genaro. La Marihuana. Breve estudio sobre esta planta. Mexico, 1886. Noted in Nicolas, Leon. "Biblioteca botanico - mexicana." Mexico, Officina tip. de la secretaria de fomento, 1895 (p. 207)

Pharmacopiea of U.S.A. 1925 (pp. 95-96)

Poulsson, E. A textbook on Pharmacology and therapuetics (Eng. ed.) London, W. Heinemann, 1923 (519 pp.). Cannabis indica; (pp. 90-91)

Prain, Sir David. on the morphology, teratology, and diclinism of the flowers of Cannabis, * * * Calcutta, office of the superintendent of government printing, India (9104, 32 pp.) Scientific memoirs of officers of th medical and sanitary departments of the government off India (new ser. no. 12)

Robinson, Victor. An essay on hasheesh, historical and experimental (2d ed.), New York. E. H. Ringer (1925, 91 pp.)

Rusby, Bliss & Ballard. The Properties and Uses of Drugs (1930 ed., p. 415)

Solis Cohen Githens. Pharmaceotherapeutus (192 ed., pp. 1702-3)

Sollman, Torald. A manual of pharmacology, and its applications to therapeutics and toxicology (3d ed.) Philadelphia and London, W. b. Saunders Co. (1926, 1184 pp.) (Marihuana (Cannabis) (pp. 323-324)

United States Departemtn of Publich Health, See Report of Surgeon-General, Hugh S. Cummings, to the Seventieth Congress. See Index Catalogue of the Surgeon General's Office, as follows:

Series 3 (Cannabis indica), 3:836-37, 1922

Series 2 (Cannabis indica) 3:341-45, 1898

Series 2 (Haschisch) 6:784, 1901

Series 1 (Cananbis indica) 2:690-91, 1881.

U.S. Dispensatory, 1918 (p. 276)

Wood, George B., The dispensatory of the United States of America (21st ed.) Philadelphia and London, J. b. Lippinscott Co. 1926, 1892. Cannabis indica (Marihuana in Mexican) p. 277-281 A few references are given in the text.


See (Bragman) Toxic effects: Weed of insanity (M. J. & Rec. 122; pp. 416-18, 1925)

(Del Favero) mental effect o hashish on Central African Negroes. Pensiero med. 17;270-277, 1928

(Dontas and Zis) Narcotic action of potassium chlorate added to smoking tobacco; comparison with hasheesh Wien. Klin. Wehnsehr. 41:161-163, 1928

(Dawner) Cannabis indica in smoking tobacco. Brit. M. J. 2:521, 1923

(Fantchenko) Case history of intoxication psychosis from poisoning with tinct. cannabis indicae. Klin. Med. 6: 770-773, 1927

(Gayer) Pharmacologic standardization of oriental hashish and cannabis indica.

Hasheesh Insanity (by Dr. Warnock, superintendent Cairo Lunatic Asylum), British Medical Journal, vol. 2, p. 2 or 8, 1903

(Huher) History of hashish and opium. Deut. Med. Wehnschr., 53: 1145, 1927

(Joel) Cultivation of cannabis indica; reply to Sabaltschka, Klin. Wehhenschr., 5: 364-365, 1926 Abst J.A.N.A. 86: 1490

(Djunjibhoy) Role of Indian hemp in causation of insanity in India. Far East Assn. Trop. Med. Trans. 7th Cong. 1927, V. 1: 400, 1928

(Joel and Frankel) Hashish intoxication; contribution to experimental psychopathology. Klin. Wehnschr.5: 1707-1709, 1926.

(Kant and Krapf) Psychic phenomena by ingestion of Hashish Archiv. f. exper. Path. u. Pharmakol. 129: 319-338, 1928

(Kant and Krapf) Question off intact function in hashish intoxication, Ztschr. f. d. ges. Neurol u. Psychiat. 112: 302-305, 1928

(Kingman) Gren Goddess, study in dreams, drugs and dementia. M. J. & Rec. 126-470-475, 1927

(Sabalitschka) Cultivation of cannabis indica; comment on Joel's article, Klin. Wehnschr. 5: 1279-1280, 1926

(Straub) Bavarian hashish, experiments. Munch. Med. Nehnschrr. 75: 49-51.

(Kent) Forms of reaction of psychotic indivisuals to hashish intoxication; study of problem of hallucination. Arch. f. Psychiat. 91: 694-721, 1930.

(Dhunjiohoy) "Indian Hemp Insanity" peculiar to India, J. Ment. Sc. 76; 254-264, 1930


England -- George V (1925), Statutes 15 and 16 amending.

California - Code of California, statutes and amendments (1929), page 381, chapter 216

Indiana -- A. Burns' Annotated Indiana Statutes, volume 1, section 2494, page 1228, act 1911, page 45

Iowa -- 1924 acts of Iowa, chapter 156, page 427

Louisiana -- Act 41 of 1924

Maine -- Revised statues of Maine (1930, sec. 25, ch. 23, p. 477).

Nevada -- Compiled laws of Nevada (1929)

New Mexico -- The laws of New Mexico (1923), chapter 42, page 58.

Oregon -- General Laws of Oregon (1923) Chapter 27

Texas -- Vernon's Annotated Criminal Statutes of the State of Texas (Penal Code) volume 2, 1926, chapter 3, article 720.

Utah. -- Compiled laws of Utah, section 4432 (1917 edition), page 902.

Vermont -- General Laws of Vermont (1919), section 6285, page 1081

Washington -- Remington's Compiled Statutes of Washington (1923), supplementing chapter 7, sections 2509-2511, 2509-2512.

Wisconsin -- Wisconsin Statutes (1929), tenth edition, section 146.02, formerly sectioon 1419 of the Old Wisconsin Statutes, paragraph 16.

Wyoming.-- Wyoming's Compiled Statutes(1920), section 3570, page 693

(see descriptive word index and tables of cases affirmed. Revised or modified, covering "Current Digest". vols, 1 to 5 (1926030) (West Publishing Co. "Marijuana", p. 327.)

Criminal law: 507 (1), 730 (2) 569, 338 (7) 1170 1-2 (2), 1153 (6) 814 (8,9), 459, 741 (1)

Poisons. 9.

(Thereupon the committee adjourned to meet tomorrow, Wednesday, Apr. 28, 1937, at 10:30 a.m.)

Contents | Feedback | Search | DRCNet Home Page | Join DRCNet

DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library | Hemp (Marijuana) | Marihuana Tax Act of 1937