NARRATOR: Act two, scene two: “The Hemp Lobbyist Befuddled.” Comes now the Honorable Ralph F. Lozier, a former judge and Congressman, retired to private practice.
LOZIER: For the record and for the information of those present who do not know me, I will say I am Ralph F. Lozier. My home is in Carrollton, Missouri, where I have for many years been engaged in the practice of law. I appear before this committee as general counsel for the National Institute of Oilseed Products, an association of about 20 concerns dealing in and crushing vegetable oil-bearing seed. I have a list of the organizations composing this association, and will hand it to the reporter for the purpose of the record.
NARRATOR: The National Institute of Oilseed Producers consisted mainly of California companies that imported the seed by boat from China: Pacific Vegetable Oil Corporation, RJ Ruesling & Co, CB Jennings & Co, SL Jones & Co., El Dorado Oil Works; Durkee Famous Foods, Inc., Berkeley Oil & Meal Co., Western Vegetable Oil, Snow Brokerage, California Flax Seeds Products, Copra Oil & Meal, Pacific Nut Oil, Globe Grain & Milling, California Cotton Oil, Producers Cotton Oil of Fresno. And Spencer Kellogg & sons, with six offices, from Buffalo, New York to Duluth, Minnesota. These were substantial businesses that did not want to see their operations disrupted by a prohibition bill.
LOZIER: The measure before you is one which should not be hastily considered or hastily acted upon. It is of that type of legislation which conceals within its four corners activities, agencies and results that this committee, without a thorough investigation, would never think were embodied in its measure.
NARRATOR: How prophetic! Unfortunately, Mr. Lozier is about to undermine his own point.
LOZIER: I want it distinctly understood that the organizations for which I speak want to go on record as favoring absolutely and unconditionally that portion of this bill which seeks to limit and the use of marijuana as a drug, or for any other injurious purpose. That portion of the bill, it seems to me, can merit the opposition of no right-thinking or right-acting man. I agree with the witnesses for the government that the use of the drug marijuana is a vicious habit that should be suppressed.
NARRATOR: The users of industrial hemp endorsed the goal of marijuana prohibition without questioning its scientific validity —even though they were the ones who had some knowledge of the plant and should have known that the so-called dangers were being vastly exaggerated by the government. They evidently thought that seeking an exemption for themselves was a better tactic than challenging the rationale for prohibition. This is a form of opportunism —we call it “goody-goodyism”— that prevails to this day among many hemp and medical-marijuana advocates.
LOZIER We do know that the deleterious principle, element or radical which is the base of this drug is not to be found in the seed or oil, but in the flowering tops of the female plants, or in the resins therefrom. Every country has a little different name for marijuana. Respectable authorities tell us that in the Orient, at least 200 million people use this drug; and when we take into consideration that for hundreds, yes, thousands of years, practically that number of people have been using this drug, it is significant that in Asia and elsewhere in the Orient, where poverty stalks abroad on every hand and where they draw on all the plant resources which a bountiful nature has given that domain —it is a significant fact that none of those 200 million people has ever, since the dawn of civilization, been found using the seed of this plant or using the oil as a drug. Now, if there were any deleterious properties or principles in the seed or oil, it is reasonable to suppose that these Orientals who have been reaching out in their poverty for something that would satisfy their morbid appetite, would have discovered it; and the mere fact that for more than two thousand years the Orientals have found this drug only in flowering tops of the female plants and not in the seeds and oils, affords convincing proof that the drug principle does not exist in the plant except in the flowering tops.
The seed of cannabis sativa is also used in a part of Russia as food. It is grown in their fields and used as oatmeal. Millions of people every day are using hemp seed in the Orient as food. They have been doing that for many generations, especially in periods of famines. But the authorities say that the narcotic principle is absolutely absent from the seed and absent from the oil in this plant.
FULLER: I do not think that the gentlemen who have presented the case on behalf of the committee, or the Government have claimed that it was present in the oil.
LOZIER: They have said it was in the seed.
FULLER: He said there was very little in the seed. He said there would be no injurious effect from the little there was in the seed.
LOZIER: The point I make is this: that this bill is too all-inclusive. This bill is a world-encircling measure. This bill brings the activities of this great industry under the supervision of a bureau, which may mean its suppression.
NARRATOR: He was soon proved right. Within a few years the Treasury Department would push for a more complete ban on hempseed oil.
LOZIER: In the last three years there have been 193 million pounds of hemp seed imported into this country, an average of 64 million pounds a year. In addition, 752,000 pounds of hemp oil have been imported.
WOODRUFF: What is the oil used for?
LOZIER: It is a rapidly drying oil to use in paints. It is also used in soap and linoleum.
COOPER: Just what do you object to in this bill?
LOZIER: This bill brings the crushers and importers of hempseed under its provisions and requires not only a license fee, which is nominal, but it provides for government supervision and it provides for reports.
DINGELL: How could you control the drug aspect of it without a reasonable and proper regulation of the entire industry? You will grant that in order to produce the seed and oil, you must permit the growth of the marijuana plant.
LOZIER: Not in this country. Nearly all of the seeds come from the Orient. The point I make is that if you turn all of the hempseed grown in this country over to the persons who have the marijuana habit, they would not be able to satisfy that habit. The point I make is that it is not necessary.
VINSON: Mr. Lozier, we know you, we love you, and we respect your ability as an advocate. Suppose you put your finger on the language in the bill that would bring about the supervision to which you object.
LOZIER: I am objecting to first, with reference to the supervision.
VINSON: The supervision of what?
LOZIER: Of the industry! By requiring reports and by a system of espionage!
VINSON: Where is that in the bill?
LOZIER: They are required to make reports. The books of the seed crushers would be subject to inspection. Under this bill the Government has a right to go into the factories and offices and make investigations.
VINSON: It seems to me that you are so certain that the activities of your people are not connected, directly or indirectly, with the use of this marijuana as a drug, that you would not hesitate to permit an investigation in order to kill this traffic.
NARRATOR: By granting that marijuana is a dangerous drug, Lozier opened himself up for this thrust by Congressman Vinson of Kentucky.
VINSON: I know that your people are not knowingly a part or parcel of the traffic. I know that from what you say. If that is not the case, of course, they ought to come under the law, and if that is the case, they will not be hurt.
LOZIER: I will answer that in this way: that there is no more reason for the supervision of the hempseed crushing industry under this bill than there is for the supervision of the rye, wheat, or other grain from which alcohol may be extracted.
VINSON: Cannot marijuana be grown from seeds that come into the possession of your crushers?
LOZIER: Yes, sir; it might be, but the germination of those seeds is practically nil.
VINSON: But you admit that this plant can be grown from seed coming into the possession of your people, and that being true, do you not think it proper to provide for the exercise of the government’s function to do that which will prevent the further propagation of this plant in this country?
LOZIER: These people buy these cargoes. They buy this product by shiploads, by trainloads, and by carload. They manufacture this oil and sell it in tank cars. They have been engaged in this business for years, and never, until the last three weeks, was any suggestion made that they were handling a commodity that was carrying a deleterious principle that was contributing to the delinquency of the people of the United States!
NARRATOR: Right on, counselor. Too bad you conceded that the plant contains a “deleterious principle.”
VINSON: Perhaps the committee in a way might be subjected to criticism for not acting on the matter before. But it is fair to state it was not called to our attention. If you admit that this marijuana is a menace to the youth as well as to the adult citizenship of this country, do you not recognize the power of the federal government to operate upon that drug?
VINSON: If you recognize that, do you not also recognize in the Government the power and the right to prevent the illicit growth of that plant?
LOZIER: I am objecting to the method.
VINSON: You do not recognize the power of Congress to do that?
LOZIER: Yes, the government has that absolute power, but the question is whether or not the government should exercise it in this way.
VINSON: I think that your people ought to hasten to join hands with the federal government to prevent the condition obtaining in this country that my good friend has depicted as existing in the Oriental countries.
CULLEN: If you will suspend a moment, the House is now in session and will be taking up a matter in which many members are interested. I am wondering if we should not adjourn at this point to meet again tomorrow morning.
LOZIER If you will allow me one moment before adjournment, I will call your attention to paragraph 6, page 9, which is an exception that permits the crusher to sell marijuana to the manufacturer or compounder for use by the vendee as a material in the manufacture of, or to be prepared by him as a component of, paint or varnish. Now under that provision you could not sell the cake or meal to farmers or the oil to makers of soap or linoleum.
CULLEN: (ignoring him) The committee will now stand adjourned until 10:30 tomorrow morning, at which time we will continue hearing the testimony of the witnesses in opposition to the bill.
NARRATOR: Thursday April 29th. A brief session
DOUGHTON: The committee will be in order. This is a continuation of the hearing on the bill HR 6385. After the adjournment yesterday I suggested to Mr., Hester, who has been representing the Treasury Department in the presentation of this bill, that he have a conference with some of those who have appeared in opposition to certain provisions of the bill to see if it were possible to iron out the differences and reach an agreement. Do you have something to report, Mr. Hester?
HESTER: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I have, and as a result of our conference, those gentlemen who represent importers of the seeds and those who crush the seeds for the purpose of making oil and using the residue of the seeds for making meal and cake, have expressed the view that they are willing to pay the occupational tax which is provided in this bill if the definition of marijuana is amended as to eliminate oil made from the seeds, and the meal and cake which are made from the seeds, as well as any compounds or manufactures of either oil, meal, or cake.
The also take the position that under the bill as now drawn, they could not sell this residue from the seeds, or the meal and cake, to cattlemen, because the cattlemen could not register under the bill, and that therefore they would have to pay a prohibitive tax.
I will say this: that I have never come up here in connection with any legislation where the Way and Means Committee has not found it necessary to make some changes. We always expect that when we come before the Ways and Means Committee, because of the fine consideration the committee gives to all legislation. If the committee should ask the Secretary of the Treasury for his recommendation with respect to the proposals made by these gentlemen representing this legitimate industry, I will say very frankly to the Secretary that I see no objection to amending the definition of marijuana so as to eliminate oil, meal, cake, and the manufactured compounds of those materials.
NARRATOR: The next witness was introduced prior to adjournment
SCARLETT: Mr. Chairman, 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. We would like to be heard at some time.
DOUGHTON: We will ask you to be here tomorrow morning.
SCARLETT: I will be present.