Propaganda and Prohibition

There is a vicious rumor circulating the internet that the real reason that hemp is illegal is because it is a cousin of the marijuana plant; in actuality, it is marijuana that just happens to be illegal because it is associated with hemp. Hemp was the target of a vicious propaganda campaign back in the thirties, one that seems to set the tone for American politics today; it is a good old-fashioned tale of greed, deceit and the manipulation of millions of people who did nothing more than trust the news media to report facts instead of pointed fiction. If you are unfamiliar with the truth about marijuana, then you may want to read ‘ten things every parent, teenage and teacher should know about marijuana. Further information can be found in ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes‘ by Jack Herer, who was kind enough to publish the book that started the revolution on the web — for free!

Part of the truth is that in the early thirties hemp gained the ability to enter the industrial revolution here in America thanks to advances in mechanized harvest equipment.  When Popular Mechanics published their article “New Billion Dollar Crop,” Henry Ford was planning to grow our transportation and eventually even fuel these hemp cars with hemp fuel. In the magazine, there is a picture of him hitting a prototype hemp vehicle.  Apparently the material was much more durable and stronger than metal or plastic.

Hemp farming would have given our farmers a sustainable income while supplying the industrial revolution with a versatile building material, textile, food and even fuel source. Without the drug war, we could be manufacturing children’s toys here in America made out of a quality material that actually combats global warming by trapping carbon, we could also be funding our children’s education instead of building prisons and burning crops that will always continue to be grown no matter what the laws, thanks to the supply/demand nature of our capitalist society.

As is shown by the statistics compiled by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition(LEAP), drug prohibition simply does not work; furthermore, the black market that results from this ill-founded policy funds terrorism and works to fuel violence and disrespect for law everywhere. As bad as it sounds, this is not the worst result of our failed drug policy; the real tragedy is the prohibition of hemp farming, the real tragedy is all the environmental damage that has been done as a result of not integrating hemp into our culture. We could get our paper, cars, houses, clothes, food and much more from this plant which also happens to be very good for the soil and requires no pesticides or fertilizers.

With recent attempts to use bio-fuels expanding like crazy, we need to be very cautious about caring for the land and our water supply; corn-based ethanol production is currently depleting our soil and contaminating our groundwater with a myriad of chemicals, while supplying a small amount of sub par fuel and using large amounts of fossil fuels in the process. This practice is going to be the death of this country if the politicians and our mass media continue on their current trajectory, just try to imagine eleven acres of corn for every driver in the U.S. (by the way, that same land would feed at least seven people for a year.)

Hemp plants grow sixteen feet in three months and absorb carbon at a rate much higher than competing crops; the absorbed carbon will stay trapped in the house or the car or the children’s toy or the shirt that is manufactured domestically.  Not only will we be helping the environment but we will also be building the backbone of a sustainable society, our farmers will have a useful crop and manufacturers will have high-quality materials. I was trained as a mechanical engineer and there were three things that I learned which seem appropriate to pass on here: 1. “if it can’t be grown, it’s gotta be mined.” 2. “when you assume, it makes an ass out of u and me” and 3. KISS (keep it simple, stupid.) In my humble opinion, fighting a war against drugs is just about as dumb as fighting a war against terrorism (which is a method, not a group or even an ideal; but I guess it does sound scary.)

Consider the following quote regarding the book ‘Drugs and Justice’: “Battin and her contributors lay a foundation for a wiser drug policy by promoting consistency and coherency in the discussion of drug issues and by encouraging a unique dialog across disciplines. The contributors are an interdisciplinary group of scholars mostly based at the University of Utah, and include a pharmacologist, a psychiatrist, a toxicologist, a trial court judge, a law professor, an attorney, a dietary specialist, a physician, a health expert on substance abuse, and Battin herself who is a philosopher.” There is no way that the Supreme Court can continue to blindly ignore this issue any longer; academics across all ranks are speaking out, Judges and Prosecutors are continually being asked to disregard federal policy with respect to the changing cultural views towards these ‘illicit’ substances on the local level, and in some states drug treatment facilities are even beginning to establish a new precedent for dealing with addiction instead of punishing the ‘abuser.’ Now twelve states have had to go to the lengths of enacting legislation to bypass federal bans on hemp farming, in spite of clear evidence that the two crops are clearly distinguishable and any inter-pollination would leave the farmer with a bunch of worthless hybrids. In spite of our federal ignorance, it seems that cannabis will soon be growing again here in the U.S. (Never mind the fact that it has been our biggest cash crop for the last umpteen years anyway…) If any of the current Presidential hopefuls has the courage to champion this worthy cause, the American Cannabis Revolution may soon be in full swing; who knows, maybe our dollar will someday be worth even more than our Canadian friends that are currently reaping the rewards of a blossoming cannabis culture.

Beyond the industrial uses of this plant, the spiritual significance of the plant in cultures all over the world is worthy of a study in itself.  How many people know that cannabis was mistranslated out of the Old Testament, or that the Hindu Goddess Shiva is depicted as being in a divine dance with the spirit of cannabis?  Buddha lived for six years on cannabis alone, after which he attained enlightenment; who has the right to deny me the same opportunity? Furthermore, what does it say about our society that we made this plant illegal because it is dangerous yet we spend all our resources building bigger, more advanced weapons with which to kill each other?  Here’s a better question: can logic and common sense still prevail over fear and ignorance in this country, or have they ever?

Drug laws are only the beginning of the problems we have in this country, but changing them is a huge step forward that will finally give us the tools (money, credibility, prison space for real criminals and a booming agricultural/manufacturing industry) to deal with the problems we now face; collapsing the black market fueled by drug trade will do nothing short of leaving most terrorists flat broke, and we will finally have a free country to be proud of again. In this age of information, ignorance can’t hold out forever; I’ll even bet someone is singing about revolution right now, on corporate radio no doubt.

“You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time..

..Get up, Stand up, Stand up for your right; Get up, Stand up, Don’t give up the fight.”-Bob Marley

In this country, why are we still fighting for our basic freedom?


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