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A Year: Day to Day Men: 2nd of August, Solar Year 2018

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The Marihuana Tax Act is enacted on August 2, 1937 in the United States.

Regulations and restrictions on the sale of cannabis sativa as a drug began as early as 1906. The head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry J Anslinger, argued that, in the 1930s, the FBN had noticed an increase of reports of people smoking marijuana. Anslinger had also, in 1935, received support from president Franklin D Roosevelt for adoption of the Uniform State Narcotic Act, state laws that included regulations of cannabis.

The American Medical Association opposed the act because the tax was imposed on physicians prescribing cannabis, retail pharmacists selling cannabis, and medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing. The AMA proposed that cannabis instead be added to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act that regulated opiates and coca products. The bill was passed over the last-minute objections of the American Medical Association.

Dr. William Creighton Woodward , the legislative counsel for the AMA,  objected to the bill on the grounds that the bill had been prepared in secret without giving proper time to prepare their opposition to the bill. He doubted their claims about marijuana addiction, violence, and overdosage. He further asserted that because the word ‘Marijuana’ was largely unknown at the time, the medical profession did not realize they were losing cannabis. “Marijuana is not the correct term … Yet the burden of this bill is placed heavily on the doctors and pharmacists of this country”.

The bill was passed on the grounds of different reports[ and hearings.. Anslinger also referred to the International Opium Convention that from 1928 included cannabis as a drug not a medicine, and that all states had some kind of laws against improper use of cannabis. By 1951, however, new justifications had emerged, and the Boggs Act that superseded the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed. In August 1954, the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 was enacted, and the Marihuana Tax Act was included in Subchapter A of Chapter 39 of the 1954 Code.

Shortly after the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act went into effect on October 1, 1937, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Denver City police arrested Moses Baca for possession and Samuel Caldwell for dealing. Baca and Caldwell’s arrest made them the first marijuana convictions under U.S. federal law for not paying the marijuana tax. Judge Foster Symes sentenced Baca to 18 months and Caldwell to four years in Leavenworth Penitentiary, a maximum-security federal prison,  for violating the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act.

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