January 15, 2021 Feature

The Rise of Hemp Litigation and the Primary Jurisdiction Doctrine

By Lisa L. Pittman

Before 1937, industrial hemp was legal and used for clothing, paper, rope, and fuel. Hemp was grown by our forefathers—even required of early colonists. But in 1937, Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act, which made all species of the Cannabis sativa L. plant illegal, including hemp, a sturdy low-THC variety. THC is the only compound in the cannabis plant that causes a euphoric sensation. While the purported purpose of the Tax Act was to eliminate the use of cannabis as a drug, some theorists posit that the real intent of the act was to eliminate the competition hemp posed to paper and steel manufacturers, and cannabis was referred to as “marijuana” as a scare tactic in the Hearst-owned newspapers in relation to its use as a drug, stoking racial fears.

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