Addiction A-Z

Marijuana Tax Law

The Marijuana Tax Law was a bill passed in Congress on August 2, 1937, over the objections of the American Medical Association. This law required anyone who was dealing commercially in marijuana, hemp or cannabis to pay a tax, and penalties for not doing that included fines up to $2,000 and five years in prison. The law came out of concerns raised by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics that too many Americans were increasingly smoking marijuana. The tax law did not, however, criminalize the possession or use of marijuana, hemp or cannabis. The AMA objected because doctors and pharmacists had to pay the tax if they prescribed cannabis to patients, and because the bill had been done in secret. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 (or Marihuana, as it was spelled officially) was replaced by the rules of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 that designated marijuana as a controlled substance that is illegal to sell, use or possess.

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