In How Marijuana Became Illegal Bud Fairy writes:

During the same period, Du Pont was developing cellophane, nylon, and dacron from from fossil fuels. Du Pont held the patents on many synthetics and became a leader in the development of paint, rayon, synthetic rubber, plastics, chemicals, photographic film, insecticides and agricultural chemicals.

From the Du Pont 1937 Annual Report we find a clue to what started to happen next: "The revenue raising power of government may be converted into an instrument for forcing acceptance of sudden new ideas of industrial and social reoganization".

Ok, enter William Randolph Hearst. Hearst's company was a major consumer of the cheap tree-pulp paper that had replaced hemp paper in the late 19th century. The Hearst Corporation was also a major logging company, and produced Du Pont's chemical-drenched tree pulp paper, which yellowed and fell apart after a short time.

In Why is marijuana illegal? Pete Guither writes:

Hearst and Anslinger were then supported by Dupont chemical company and various pharmaceutical companies in the effort to outlaw cannabis. Dupont had patented nylon, and wanted hemp removed as competition. The pharmaceutical companies could neither identify nor standardize cannabis dosages, and besides, with cannabis, folks could grow their own medicine and not have to purchase it from large companies.

This all set the stage for…

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

Is that an accurate description of the poltical realities of the time? Did the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 pass because if lobbying by Dupont and Hearst for their commerical interests as paper producers?

  • I think like in most things like this there is more to the story than just this effort, but I do not doubt that this played at least some part.
    – Chad
    Dec 23, 2013 at 15:40
  • 2
    This sounds awfully like a "motivation" question. What sort of evidence would you find convincing in either direction?
    – Oddthinking
    May 9, 2014 at 2:44
  • 1
    You can read a lot of the records here: druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/taxact.htm I don't know how court used to work, and I haven't read much of it, but from what I've read, it shows signs of ulterior motivation and psychological coercion. A couple pertinent texts are: druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/anslng1.htm and druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/t2.htm . I hope it's a good source.
    – JVE999
    May 9, 2014 at 14:35
  • A good start (per JVE999) is to look at the public arguments made in support of prohibition. But that would need to be complemented by evidence that members of Congress were responsive to those arguments. The motives described in this question are a bit more conspiratorial, and are less likely to be used in public arguments...so it's hard to know if it is true.
    – adam.r
    Jun 9, 2014 at 0:29
  • Note that DuPont's paper is unlikely to have been different than the competitors, as the ageing was a result of the standard manufacturing process. Wikipedia's article on paper says use of hemp was extremely low prior to 1937 (~500 tons in 1935 - not enough to print a day's newspapers), and that wood pulp had been the primary fiber for the 40 years prior. Nov 12, 2015 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


Mexico outlawed marijuana 10 years before the United States did because they viewed it as a problem there. The Dupont and Hearst bit makes for good conspiracy theory though.


The name marijuana (Mexican Spanish marihuana, mariguana) is associated almost exclusively with the plant's psychoactive use. The term is now well known in English largely due to the efforts of American drug prohibitionists during the 1920s and 1930s. Mexico officially adopted prohibition in 1925, following the International Opium Convention.[15]

  • 7
    The fact that mexico forbid it in 1925 doesn't tell us much about the US politics in the 1930's. If you want to make that argument than at least explain how the circumstances that led to Mexico banning it in 1925 didn't exist in the US 1925 but did exist in 1937.
    – Christian
    Dec 26, 2013 at 20:42
  • Marijuana was more popular in Mexico than in the US in the early 1900's. Basic fear led to its ban in Mexico as seen by this NYT article from 1925. query.nytimes.com/gst/… "MEXICO BANS MARIHUANA.; To Stamp Out Drug Plant Which Crazes Its Addicts." Mexican immigration, the Great Depression, some racism, and Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) eventually led to its ban in the US Wikipedia:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – James
    Feb 9, 2016 at 16:15

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