Misunderstanding on Hemp
Despite the fact they are two separate plants, hemp and marijuana are often confused as the same substance. This is because the two are similar, and both belong to a family of cannabis plants. Street terminology and the war on drugs helped to solidify this misunderstanding.
The War on Drugs
The War on Drugs officially began with the banning of Opium in 1909. Prior to this point, opium was a popular medicine, used to treat a number of different ailments that typically had to do with pain. In 1937, the government also decided to heavily tax marijuana and all “similar” substances, which included hemp. This law did not specifically make the plant illegal, but it did work to dissuade many from using it.
In 1970, marijuana and hemp were labelled as schedule one substances under the Nixon presidency, along with a number of psychedelics and hard-core drugs. This worked to perpetuate the stereotype that marijuana was a deadly drug that had harmful effects on users. Schedule one drugs were said to be the “worst, most addictive” substances, with a schedule five (which includes cough syrup) was the least addictive. As the American government slowly turned on marijuana, it also turned on hemp and all other plants in the cannabis genesis.
In 1977, Jimmy Carter followed in Nixon’s footsteps by promoting the War on Drugs. His very first step was to criminalize the use, possession, or selling of marijuana.
War on Drugs Wasn’t What People Think
Everyone is under the assumption that the war on drugs was due to an incredible drug issue sweeping the nation. That isn’t actually the case, however. During an interview, John Ehrlichman(President Nixon’s domestic policy chief), revealed that the War on Drugs was actually a racist agenda by the president.
His exact quote was:
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.”
The misunderstandings continued to persist with the “Say NO to Drugs” campaign set about by President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy. Parents and children were taught that all cannabis plants were as “evil” and “bad” as cocaine, heroin, meth, or prescription pain killers. This, unfortunately, postponed a lot of research which could have been conducted on the numerous benefits of marijuana, hemp, and the CBD oil extracted from them.