chapter  2
23 Pages

Narcotics and Narcotic Regulations from 1937

The next major change in narcotic laws in the United States came with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 when marijuana* was added to the list of banned narcotics. Marijuana, though, presents a picture completely different from cocaine or the opiates. First, it is a mild hallucinogen that is not physically addicting as are the opiates. It also has a low psychological addiction potential, unlike both the opiates and cocaine. Physically, extensive use probably results in harm to the body that is equivalent to tobacco and, as with tobacco, it is likely its damage results in a statistically shorter life span rather than doing damage to body tissue (which can quickly be fatal). Psychologically, it produces an altered sensorium and slowed reflexes, making it dangerous to use while operating machinery or driving. However, it certainly does not drive its users insane and does not cause them to commit violent acts. It was not in widespread use in the first quarter of the twentieth century, although its use had begun to spread by 1937. Naturally, this is not how the drug was presented to Congress.