Grown worldwide for millenia as a source of food, medicine, fiber and paper, hemp was banned for the first time in human history in 1938 by the United States.
The original impetus for outlawing the hemp plant came from the DuPont and Mellon families with an important assist from William Randolf Hearst.
Hearst owned timber rights for millions of acres of forest land, the raw material for newsprint. DuPont had patents for numerous synthetic products that hemp is competitive with.
Harry Anslinger, the virulent racist who headed the Bureau of Narcotics and spear-headed the campaign against "demon marijuana" was married to the niece of Richard Mellon of the Mellon banking family.
For those who believe that the world is run by and for the benefit of a few interlocking families, this episode provides evidence for that position.
Enforcing marijuana laws and jailing offenders is a multi-billion dollar a year business that employs tens of thousands of people.