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Marijuana is the flower of the hemp plant which has been cultivated throughout history for its tensile strength in making ropes, sails and cloth. The hemp plant is on a North Borneo postage stamp and the cacheted subject of United States patriotic  and business envelopes.


At the turn of the twentieth century the use and distribution of marijuana in the southwestern United States and Territories  became an issue with the advent of migrant workers. Originally marihuana was included as one of the substances to be regulated by the Harrison Act of 1914, but opposition from the drug industry is generally believed  responsible for its exclusion from the act. In 1937 it was classified as a controlled substance  and had occupational and trade taxes imposed upon it.


 In the early 1980's states in a new war on drug started implementing their own taxation programs. 24 States are known to have issued stamps  for the collection of tax on marijuana. The laws do not legalize marijuana and tax stamps are rarely found on actual marijuana. Tennessee in 2005 became the latest state to adopt a marijuana tax program.


 The National Postal Museum has deaccessioned* a large holding of duplicate revenue stamps that include documentary stamps with a marijuana overprint that were never issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In February 2005 approximately 5000 of these stamps were sold at auction to the highest bidder. Officially never issued for use these stamps were generated in response to marijuana's classification as a narcotic in 1937.


*Deaccessioning" is museum terminology for removing objects from the national collection. In this case it means destroying postal history to increase the value of what it sells.






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