For thousands of years, hemp (cannabis sativa) has been one of the most useful plants known to man. It’s strong, stringy fibers make some of the most durable rope and can even be woven into shower curtains, paper products, clothing, and wallets. Everything from animal feed to car parts, etc. History tells us that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp for its strong fibers and medicinal use. So why is this plant so controversial to grow in the U.S? It is a combination of ignorance coupled with greed and profiteering.
To understand the argument for industrial hemp, one needs to realize there are three species of cannabis: Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. All “industrial type” hemp fall under (sativa), even marihuana, hence the beginning of the misunderstanding. Although the hemp stalk is different than that of marihuana, its leaves resemble the marihuana leaf, but hemp itself does not contain the psychoactive ingredient found in marihuana (THC). This information is confirmed by Dr. David P. West who holds a PhD, in plant breeding from the University of Minnesota and is also a strong advocate for the emerging hemp industry in his 1994 writings “Fiber Wars: the Extinction of Kentucky Hemp.”
He goes on to distinguish between the myth and the reality surrounding the hemp issue and says that “THC levels in industrial hemp are so low that no one could get high from smoking it. It is interesting to note that at one time U.S. drug laws accepted the distinction between marihuana and hemp as seen in the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act where it defined marihuana as “(A)ll parts of the plant (cannabis sativa) whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from such plant…but shall not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks….”
So why is it then that farmers cannot grow industrial hemp in the United States, at a time I might add that President Obama and his administration as well as corporations are telling us that green is the way to go?
A substantial motivation for these laws was contempt for Mexicans and Blacks with whom marihuana use was widely associated at the time.
Racist politicians used anti-marihuana legislation to punish these minorities. One Texas Senator on the floor of the Texas Senate declared that “All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff is what makes them crazy.” A 1934 newspaper complained that “marihuana influences negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white man’s shadows and look at white women twice”. Harry Anslinger who headed the federal government’s Bureau of Narcotics in the 30’s (we call them the DEA now) said that “the primary reason to outlaw marihuana is its effect on the degenerate races”. Statements like these were not unusual; he made them often and as a matter of routine.
On top of all of this, American business mogul and newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst was busy feeding the public racist attacks on Mexicans through his newspapers depicting them as lazy marihuana smokers. In addition, chemical companies known as Dupont came into the picture and were developing a process for producing better paper products. They were also interested in producing synthetic fibers like rayon and nylon. Now, I do not have to spell it out for you to understand what came next. New farming machines were being developed and Hearst and Dupont knew that hemp products would be easier to cultivate and they stood to lose millions.
By 1937, secret meetings had been taking place for a couple of years behind closed doors in Washington. Soon thereafter, the Federal government found a way to associate hemp and marihuana as dangerous drugs, so the rich became richer and the American people got screwed.
In April 2009, a couple of congressmen, Ron Paul and Barney Frank, saw through the smoke (no pun intended), and introduced legislation H.R. 1866- that would remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp. Paul said, “It is unfortunate that the federal government has stood in the way of American farmers, including many who are struggling to make ends meet, from competing in the global hemp market”. Indeed it is high time we support H.R. 1866 and call our congress critter. For those in the El Paso area he is Silvestre Reyes.
Hemp is a versatile, environmentally-friendly crop that is UV resistant, anti-microbial, and long lasting. Major clothing designers such as Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein are jumping into the bandwagon and designing garments produced from hemp fiber grown in China and Canada, AHHH! For those interested in hemp’s medicinal uses research the good Samaritan work of Rick Simpson and his plight with the federal government, it is unbelievable.
Remember that freedom and liberty always work for the people as long we respect each others freedom and property, but liberty does not work for the greedy politicians, because then they would not have anybody or anything to tax, and thus would have to get a real job like everyone else.
TEXT: JAVIER VALLES