Have you ever asked yourself how the word marijuana was derived from the scientific name cannabis?
The two words seem completely unrelated.
Well, you can thank Harry Anslinger for that.
In 1930, Anslinger was appointed first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the United States, the office that preceded the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
At the time alcohol prohibition was well underway, and the whole thing had been a disaster. Gangsters — like the infamous Al Capone — were benefiting while the government was losing out on tax revenue and spending more on law enforcement.
But when alcohol prohibition ended in 1933, Anslinger and the Bureau were in trouble.
You see, alcohol was the biggest illegal drug then. With alcohol legalised, the days of the bureau seemed numbered. Cocaine and heroin users were a small percentage, and did not give the overstaffed bureau enough justification to keep its funding.
Remember, this was in the time of the Great Depression. Finding another job for all these agents would be tough.
So, what to do?
That’s when Aslinger decided to start a crusade to ban cannabis.
Cannabis was an easy target then. Many immigrants who had flocked into the country after the Mexican revolution in 1910 used it. Mexicans called cannabis ‘marihuana’ — pronounced mariguana.
And that is why Anslinger came up with the term marijuana, to give it a more ‘foreign’ feel.
Anslinger’s campaign succeeded.
In 1937 the US Congress approved the Marijuana Tax Act, which made pot possession illegal in the United States.
But in the last few years marijuana has seen a wave of legalization. It is creating a whole new industry. But to us the most interesting thing about the cannabis revolution is how society’s mindset is changing towards it.
In the last few months we have been surprised to hear older generations uncharacteristically curious about cannabis treatments. Mainly for ailments like arthritis and cancer.
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The mentality and stigma around cannabis is changing
But, don’t just take our word for it.
To see how fast cannabis is gaining acceptance you only need to look at Thailand.
Up until the 30s when it got banned, Thailand used marijuana for medicinal and cooking purposes. As you probably know, the country has strict laws in regards to drugs.
Yet at the end of 2018 the Thai parliament voted to approve medicinal cannabis calling it a ‘New Year’s Gift’ for Thais.
Countries around the world are legalising medicinal cannabis. Uruguay, Canada and several US states have also legalised recreational cannabis.
But there was another piece of news at the end of the year that caught our eye too.
Last month the US passed the farm bill into law, which legalized hemp. Hemp is a variety of cannabis with no psychoactive effects used in clothes and food. The new bill classifies hemp as an agricultural commodity.
And, as Forbes writes, this is quite important for the new cannabis industry:
‘The most interesting part of the 1,006-page bill is the last page. It amends the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 concerning marijuana for the first time. Specifically, it refers to a new definition of “hemp” as being any C. Sativa plant that has THC below 0.3% on a dry weight basis. This bill does not legalize cannabis in full, but it does legalize strains with low THC. [THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that makes you high.]
‘Legalizing strains that are low in THC is important for the nascent cannabis industry. Why? THC is not the only reason to grow cannabis. The plant has widely been cultivated through history for a variety of uses such as rope and canvas. It was widely grown in the mid-west during World War II for industrial uses.[…]
‘Most importantly for the cannabis industry, Hemp is a great source of CBD. CBD is another chemical produced by cannabis, but it does not get you high. CBD is being touted as a wellness drug and consumer goods companies are looking to incorporate it into everything from pills to sports drinks. The list of potential benefits from this drug include treatments for epilepsy, pain-relief, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety.[…] This bill offers a legal new path to growth for cannabis producers in the US.’
Both recreational and medicinal cannabis laws are changing around the world.
2019 could be a big year for cannabis.
Editor, Markets & Money
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