NARRATOR: The next witness, also from the hemp industry, had been introduced prior to adjournment on April 29th and testified on Friday, the 30th.
SCARLETT: My name is Raymond G. Scarlett, representing William G. Scarlett & company, seed merchants of Baltimore. We represent the interest of the feed manufacturers on this subject, which is a little different angle from that which has been presented heretofore. Mr. Chairman, I might say there are only two representatives of the seed industry here today, because it so happens that our trade association, which represents 90 percent of the seed dealers in the country, is now in session in Chicago, and one of the things in which they are engaged is the drafting of suggests for provisions for the Federal regulation of seed, and our counsel could not be here for that reason. We handle a considerable quantity of hempseed annually for use in pigeon feeds. That is a necessary ingredient in pigeon feed because it contains an oil substance that is a valuable ingredient of pigeon feed, and we have not been able to find any seed that will take its place. If you substitute anything for the hemp, it has a tendency to change the character of the squabs produced; and if we were deprived of the use of hempseed, it would affect all of the pigeon producers in the United States, of which there are upwards of 40,000.
DOUGHTON: Does that seed have the same effect on pigeons as the drug has on individuals?
SCARLETT: I have never noticed it. It has a tendency to bring back the feathers and improve the birds.
NARRATOR: In other words, hempseed oil contains some unique component or components very beneficial to birds. But Mr. Scarlett didn’t point out the implications of his own knowledge. He could have cited the canary in the coal mine in reverse —not dying for lack of oxygen, but singing in the pursuit of love, and with feathers gleaming. But instead he accepted a deal from the Treasury Department.
SCARLETT: We are not interested in spreading marijuana, or anything like that. We do not want to be drug peddlers. But it has occurred to us that if we could sterilize the seed there would be no possibility of the plant being produced from the seeds that the pigeons might throw on the ground.
DOUGHTON: If you were allowed to use this seed for that purpose, and it was sterilized, would that eliminate your objections?
SCARLETT: Yes, sir, that is the agreement we have reached with the Treasury representatives. There has been an amendment proposed to section 1(b) by excluding from the definition of marijuana sterilized seed which is incapable of germination.
NARRATOR: Evidently Clinton Hester of the Treasury Department had promised the hempseed vendors that their interests would not be affected by marijuana prohibition.
DOUGHTON: Suppose it should develop that in your efforts to sterilize the seed you should not be successful… Then would you object to legislation necessary to protect the people from the deleterious effects of this drug?
SCARLETT: No, sir. But sterilization could be very easily accomplished.
DISNEY: What is the relation between hempseed and marijuana? SCARLETT: Until Monday of this week we did not know that there was any connection between the two.
NARRATOR: Wow. SCARLETT: When this bill came and we saw that it was called “a bill to impose an occupational excise tax upon dealers in marijuana,” we paid no attention to it. Nobody in the seed trade refers to hempseed as marijuana. Hempseed is a harmless ingredient used for many years in the seed trade. They say that hemp and marijuana are one and the same thing, but it was not until Monday that we knew they were.
DISNEY: That is as far as the trade is concerned?
SCARLETT: Yes, sir. The trade at large do not know that this bill that is under consideration contains any provision affecting them, because the title of the bill would give them no knowledge that it was hempseed that was under discussion.
REED: I want to get it clearly in my mind that this marijuana and the ordinary hemp that we hear about are the same thing. The plant is the same? SCARLETT: Yes, sir. REED: There is no difference?
SCARLETT: No sir, not to my knowledge.
REED: Can anybody answer that question.
HESTER: That is right.
DISNEY: Do you mean field hemp?
REED: Yes. I am talking about field hemp. I want to get that clear.
DOUGHTON: Is not one a manufactured product and the other the substance from which it is made? The hempseed is the substance from which the marijuana is produced, is it not?
SCARLET: No, sir. Marijuana is produced from the resin of the female flowers or blossoms.
DOUGHTON: It comes from the hempseed?
SCARLETT: Yes, sir, but in India when they produce marijuana, they are very careful to go through the fields and pick out the male plant so that they will not fertilize the female plant.
NARRATOR: And I thought “sinsemilla” was invented in Mendocino County in the 1970s!
DOUGHTON: If you had no hemp weed you would have no marijuana would you?
SCARLETT: That is correct. That is the reason I said we would sterilize the seed.
REED: Several people have talked to me about marijuana and they have impressed me with the fact that they are different plants. I think that ought to be cleared up in the public mind, so that we may know we are dealing with hemp. I suppose a good many people have the idea that it is some sort of a new species of plant in the country.
DISNEY: Down in our part of the country I understand marijuana grows everywhere, just as an ordinary weed. I would like to get a clear understanding on that.
REED: In other words, it is hemp growing wild, is it not?
DISNEY: I do not know.
REED: There seems to be quite a good deal of confusion about it, and the newspapers are publishing stories about it and we might as well clear up that situation and say that we are not dealing with the ordinary hemp plant, wild or cultivated, if that is right.
HESTER: That is right.
NARRATOR: Hester got in the last word, and it was not right. The same plant -“Cannabis,” as named by Linneaus- is known in America as “hemp” when bred for fiber and “marijuana” when bred for the drug content of its resin.
DOUGHTON: Is there anyone else who desires to be heard?
HERTZFELD: My name is Joseph B. Hertzfeld. I am manager of the feed department of the Philadelphia Seed Co. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I want to say at the outset, Mr. Chairman, that our firm is heartily in sympathy with the aims and purposes of this bill, and we have no desire to become parties in spreading this drug around the country. We have been manufacturers of feeds and mixed birdseeds for many years, and in those mixtures hempseed is a very important item. Hempseed is very beneficial because it adds the proper oil to the mixture and promotes the growth of feathers, and it is also a general vitalizer.
NARRATOR: “A general vitalizer” for birds, and yet it kills people? Doesn’t anybody see the disconnect?
HERTZFELD: Birds lose their feathers and hempseed aids considerably in restoring the bird’s vitality quickly. Otherwise there is a delay of two or three months before the bird gets back into condition, and the use of hempseed helps to accomplish that purpose. I want to second what Mr. Scarlett has just said, and to express our willingness to have the seed sterilized so that it cannot be grown and thus cause any harm. This agreement which has been referred to, that we reached yesterday with Mr. Hester, is very satisfactory to us.
NARRATOR: But Mr. Hertzfeld was not getting off that easy, as we’ll see in our next installment.