Oil has brought this country to its knees but hemp can help it stand tall. Cannabis has been demonized so much Americans have lost sight of its potential uses. Acts of greed and prejudice have forced a very promising future for this American resource into a state of criminality.
Intoxicating effects of Cannabis and the social stigmas of stoner culture are well known. Stoners, those who habitually smoke pot, are seen as stupid, smoking their lives away and abandoning all sense of motivation. When used as medicine, it is still an intoxicant which can be abused.
The controversy revolves around the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives marijuana its relaxing side effects that have been used medically to help relieve chronic pain and other medical conditions. It is allowed in a limited fashion in California under Proposition 215, but it is still illegal on the federal level. Its intoxicating powers aside, the plant itself is an almost inexhaustible, untapped resource. From clothing and durable paper, to building green eco-friendly homes made of hempcrete, it can do many more things than most people realize.
Considered an illegal drug by the United States government, the hemp plant, classified as cannabis sativa, through different cultivation methods can produce a variety of useable products and medications. The law does not distinguish the difference between marijuana and hemp. Hemp contains 0.05 percent to 1 percent THC, while marijuana contains 3 percent to 20 percent, according to the North American Hemp Council. Logging, cotton, and big oil lobby against hemp due to its higher efficiencies, fearing a loss of business share.
The laws clumping together marijuana and hemp were spawned from racism and greed. Cannabis was made illegal because Mexican immigrants and African-Americans smoked it. It was a means of running Mexican immigrants out and keeping African-Americans down. One of the first colonial laws was an order to grow hemp in Jamestown in 1619. There was also a “Hemp for Victory” campaign during World War II.
The plant is not being utilized even though we know how beneficial it can be. Hemp paper is more durable than paper made from wood pulp, which can cut down dramatically on deforestation. Fabrics and textiles can be made out of it, from everyday materials to fine linens. Hemp stock is longer and stronger than cotton and more mildew resistant. Cannabis is much easier to cultivate than cotton, needs fewer pesticides and grows quickly. They do not call it “weed” for nothing.
San Diego has a hemp history all of its own. According to San Diego’s premier Cannabis Culture magazine Nug, some of the buildings in Balboa Park are reinforced with hemp mortar. From Spreckle’s Theater to the Organ Pavilion, hemp has made its mark.
Hemp can also be used as a bio-fuel with hemp ethanol and methanol and can actually be more efficient than corn ethanol, without being a waste of food. If we are willing to advance the technology of hemp biodiesel with better engines and refining methods, it could be an excellent natural source of fuel which could release our dependence on foreign resources. It can also be used to make hemp-based plastics. We could be covering a great deal of America’s needs with one plant. As a country and world economy based upon finite fossil fuels, we need a back-up plan. With a world economy based on oil in imminent collapse, we need change.
Hemp is a renewable resource which cancels out carbon emissions, creating a self-renewing system. It is time to look back at the origins of our country and take our cues from the founding fathers. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers themselves. Our country was built on hemp. The Constitution was drafted upon hemp paper, our first flag was made of hemp fabric as were all of the colonists clothes. With hemp reform and good old-fashioned American ingenuity we can restore America’s economy with this product alone. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country.”