The decision of the United States Congress to pass the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 was based on poorly attended hearings and reports based on questionable studies. In 1936 the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) noticed an increase of reports of people smoking marijuana, which further increased in 1937. The Bureau drafted a legislative plan for Congress seeking a new law, and the head of the FBN, Harry J. Anslinger, ran a campaign against marijuana. Newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst's empire of newspapers used the "yellow journalism" pioneered by Hearst to demonize the cannabis plant and spread a public perception that there were connections between cannabis and violent crime. Several scholars argue that the goal was to destroy the hemp industry, largely as an effort of Hearst, Andrew Mellon and the Du Pont family.
One source of tensions in the western and southwestern states was the influx of Mexicans to the US. Many Mexicans also smoked marijuana to relax after working in the fields. Later in the 1920s, negative tensions grew between the small farms and the large farms that used cheaper Mexican labor. Shortly afterwards, the Great Depression came which increased tensions as jobs and resources became more scarce. Because of that, the passage of the initial laws is often described as a product of racism, yet use of hashish by near eastern immigrants were also cited, as well as the misuse of pharmaceutical hemp, and the laws conformed with other legislation that was being passed around the country.
The Secretary shall withhold 10 per centum of the
amount required to be apportioned to any State under each of
sections 104(b)(1), 104(b)(3), and 104(b)(4) of this title on the
first day of each fiscal year after the second fiscal year beginning
after September 30, 1985, in which the purchase or public
possession in such State of any alcoholic beverage by a person
who is less than twenty-one years of age is lawful.
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