The first marijuana tax stamps were necessitated by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
Originally, the United States government had encouraged the agricultural production of "hemp" for its tensile strength in making cloth, ropes, and sails. The product was also used by turn-of-the-century pharmaceutical companies as an ingredient in creams and ointments. Their argument was that the product was non-habit-forming and that it should not be classified as a narcotic.
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 classified marijuana as a controlled substance. It imposed an annual tax on medical practitioners, requiring them to display the tax stamps, in order to prescribe products containing marijuana. As a result of this law, most doctors and dentists stopped prescribing products that contained marijuana. The tax stamp portion of the law was never fully implemented, and very few of them were ever used.
The four documentary stamps of 1917, shown above (Sc. #RJM1-4), were overprinted MARIHUANA / TAX ACT / OF 1937 and issued during 1937.
The One, Five, and Ten Dollar stamps were sold both perforated and imperforate.
The 100 Dollar denomination was issued in panes of four, with a receipt tab attached to each of the stamps. The panes are imperforate at the top, sides, and bottom, thus all of these stamps will have one or two straight-edges.
Before 2005, the only known examples of these four stamps were two One Dollar denomination stamps in used condition, which were in private collections.
The four undated documentary stamps of 1940, shown above (Sc. #RJM5-8), were overprinted MARIHUANA / TAX ACT / OF 1937 and issued during 1962. The 1962 marijuana tax stamps were only delivered to the Department of Internal Revenue during four years -- 1962, 1969, 1970, and 1971.
The 50 Dollar denomination was issued in panes of four, with a receipt tab attached to each of the stamps. The panes are imperforate at the top, sides, and bottom, thus all of these stamps will have one or two straight-edges.
Before 2005, the only known examples of these four stamps in philatelic hands was a used block of four of the One Dollar denomination.
The use of marijuana tax stamps was officially discontinued on April 27, 1971.
In April 2005, the National Postal Museum sold approximately 5,000 of the unused tax stamps in their possession at a public auction. Most of the mint examples in the philatelic marketplace today are from that sale.
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Marijuana Tax Stamps of 1937-1971