Pot isn’t illegal because the paper industry is afraid of competing with hemp — it’s because of racism and the culture wars.
By Steven Wishnia, AlterNet. Posted February 21, 2008.
Scratch a pothead and ask them why marijuana is outlawed, and there’s a good chance you’ll get some version of the “hemp conspiracy” theory. Federal pot prohibition, the story goes, resulted from a plot by the Hearst and DuPont business empires to squelch hemp as a possible competitor to wood-pulp paper and nylon. These allegations can be found anywhere from Wikipedia entries on William Randolph Hearst and the DuPont Company to comments on pot-related articles published here on AlterNet. And these allegations are virtually unchallenged; many people fervently believe in the hemp conspiracy, even though the evidence to back it up vaporizes under even minimal scrutiny.
You could make a stronger case for Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin of John F. Kennedy; Oswald at least left a not-quite-smoking gun at the scene.
Pot activist Jack Herer’s book The Emperor Wears No Clothes is the prime source for the hemp-conspiracy theory. It alleges that in the mid-1930s, “when the new mechanical hemp fiber stripping machines to conserve hemp’s high-cellulose pulp finally became state of the art, available and affordable,” Hearst, with enormous holdings in timber acreage and investments in paper manufacturing, “stood to lose billions of dollars and perhaps go bankrupt.” Meanwhile, DuPont in 1937 had just patented nylon and “a new sulfate/sulfite process for making paper from wood pulp” — so “if hemp had not been made illegal, 80 percent of DuPont’s business would never have materialized.”
[For the rest of this article, go here to AlterNet.]