Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do



America has an opportunity to,
once and for all, say farewell
to the Exxon Valdez,
Saddam Hussein,
and a prohibitively expensive
brinkmanship in the
desert sands of Saudi Arabia.
ABC Radio
YOU MAY FIND THE information in this chapter astonishing, unlikely, fascinating, unbelievable, amazing, and too good to be true. That, at least, was my first reaction. What amazed me even more was that I first heard this information not from an underground newspaper, but on the ABC Radio Network, presented by someone who ranks right up there with Walter Cronkite as a trustworthy journalist, Hugh Downs:[*FN]

The reasons the pro-marijuana lobby wants marijuana legal have little to do with getting high, and a great deal to do with fighting oil giants like Saddam Hussein, Exxon and Iran. The pro-marijuana groups claim that hemp is such a versatile raw material that its products not only compete with petroleum, but with coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, pharmaceutical, timber and textile companies. It is estimated that methane and methanol production alone from hemp grown as bio-mass could replace 90% of the world's energy needs. If they're right, this is not good news for oil interests, and could account for the continuation of marijuana prohibition.

[*FN] A similar report was printed in his excellent 1995 book Perspectives, and recorded by him on the audio version of the book.

They've outlawed
the number one vegetable
on the planet.
As we explored, marijuana is the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa), and was one of the primary agricultural products in this country for more than 250 years. We saw how the DuPont Corporation and William Randolph Hearst, working with Federal Bureau of Narcotics Director Harry Anslinger, succeeded in having marijuana prohibited nationally in 1937. On his ABC Radio broadcast, Hugh Downs explored possible reasons why marijuana is still illegal today:

When Rudolph Diesel produced his famous engine in 1896, he assumed that the diesel engine would be powered by a variety of fuels, especially vegetable and seed oils. Rudolph Diesel, like most engineers then, believed vegetable fuels were superior to petroleum. Hemp is the most efficient vegetable.

In the 1930s, the Ford Motor Company also saw a future in biomass fuels. Ford operated a successful biomass conversion plant that included hemp at their Iron Mountain facility in Michigan. Ford engineers extracted methanol, charcoal fuel, tar, pitch, ethyl acetate, and creosote—all fundamental ingredients for modern industry, and now supplied by oil-related industries.

The difference is that the vegetable source is renewable, cheap and clean, and the petroleum or coal sources are limited, expensive and dirty. By volume, 30% of the hemp seed contains oil suitable for high-grade diesel fuel, as well as aircraft engine and precision machine oil. Henry Ford's experiments with methanol promised cheap, readily-renewable fuel. And, if you think methanol means compromise, you should know that many modern race cars run on methanol.

Jack Herer's book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, is the bible on industrial uses for marijuana. The subtitle of the book is The Authoritative Historical Record of the Cannabis Plant, Marijuana Prohibition, and How Hemp Can Still Save the World. This is an ambitious subtitle—especially for a book that looks more like the Whole Earth Catalog than a scholarly tome. For the most part, however, Herer succeeds. He may become a little too enthusiastic about the industrial uses of hemp at times, but even if 10% of his information is accurate (and certainly more than that is), marijuana could prove a major boon to the economy, the environment, and humanity.

It takes an entire forest—
over 500,000 trees—
to supply Americans with their
Sunday newspapers every week.

Over one billion trees
are used to make
disposable diapers every year.
In addition to oil and fuel, here are some of the industrial uses for the hemp plant:
  • Paper. Whereas trees—currently our primary source of paper—take twenty years to grow, hemp reaches full maturity in a single growing season. Warm climates can produce three hemp harvests per year. This makes hemp a far more efficient plant for producing paper than trees. In addition, making paper from hemp—unlike wood pulp—doesn't require acid, so all hemp paper is "acid free," thus lasting for hundreds of years. Hemp could supply virtually all of our paper, cardboard, and other packaging needs. (Half the paper used in America is for packaging.) And if you're wondering why books, newspapers, and magazines are costing more and more, it's probably because the worldwide shortage of pulp caused paper prices to double in 1995.
  • Textiles and Fabrics. The hemp fiber is very similar to flax—in fact, much of the linen produced prior to the 1930s (including fine Irish linen) was made from hemp, not flax. The hemp plant, then, is an excellent source for textiles. Prior to the invention of the cotton gin, most clothing in the United States was made from the hemp plant. The hemp fiber is stronger, softer, warmer, and more durable than cotton.

It doesn't matter
whether you're right or not,
you're never going to be able
to use hemp.
A lot of people
have heavy feelings about marijuana
and they're not going
to allow you to grow it.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Food. The hemp seed is an excellent source of protein. It can be ground, baked into breads, sprouted, and turned into a tofu-like food. In addition, hemp seed makes an excellent oil similar to flaxseed oil. You cannot "get high" eating marijuana seeds or their oil. ("Hash oil," which is highly intoxicating, does not come from the seeds.)
  • Medicine. Marijuana (yes, the part that gets you high) is the best medicine for reducing nausea in people being treated with chemotherapy or other medications.[*FN] Marijuana is also an excellent treatment for glaucoma, which is responsible for 14% of all blindness in America and affects 2.5 million people.[**FN] Marijuana has also been proven effective in treating asthma, epilepsy, MS, back pain and muscle spasms, arthritis, cystic fibrosis, rheumatism, emphysema, migraines, in reducing tumors, and—as should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever smoked marijuana—in enhancing one's appetite. And yet, as of early 1996, precisely eight people in the United States can legally use marijuana as medicine.

    [*FN] Some states allow the psychoactive chemical, THC, to be sold in pill form as a treatment for nausea. These states, however, do not allow the smokeable form of marijuana to be sold, even to cancer or AIDS patients. The absurdity of this is immediately evident: if one is nauseated, he or she would be unable to keep down the pill form of THC long enough for it to be absorbed into the system. The smokeable form of marijuana, however, acts much more quickly than the pill form and can be inhaled—even on an upset stomach.

    [**FN] Some doctors hint strongly that glaucoma patients obtain marijuana illicitly to use in their glaucoma treatment.

    Can we have rope without dope?
    A Jekyll-and-Hyde plant, hemp
    provides twine and rope urgently
    needed for military purposes.
    But it also yields marijuana,
    a drug that makes depraved
    creatures of its addicts.
  • Building Materials. The hemp plant can be pressed into fiberboard which is fire resistant and has excellent thermal- and sound-insulating qualities.
  • Other Products. The hemp plant is rich in cellulose. Cellulose can be used for making more than 150,000 plastic products, many of which are made from petroleum today. Hemp can also be used to make paint, varnish, and even dynamite.

    Here are some fascinating hemp facts, taken directly from The Emperor Wears No Clothes:

    HEMPstead, Long Island; HEMPstead County, Arkansas; HEMPstead, Texas; HEMPhill, North Carolina; HEMPfield, Pennsylvania; among others, were named after cannabis growing regions, or after family names derived from hemp growing.

    Cannabis hemp was legal tender (money) in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800s. You could pay your taxes with cannabis hemp throughout America for over 200 years.

    You could even be jailed in America for not growing cannabis during several periods of shortage, e.g., in Virginia between 1763 and 1767.

    George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew cannabis on their plantations. Jefferson, while envoy to France, went to great expense—and considerable risk to himself and his secret agents—to procure particularly good hemp seeds smuggled illegally into Turkey from China. The Chinese Mandarins (political rulers) so valued their hemp seeds that they made their exportation a capital offense.

    Cultivators of the earth
    are the most
    valuable citizens.

    Benjamin Franklin started one of America's first paper mills with cannabis. This allowed America to have a free colonial press without having to beg or justify paper and books from England.

    The United States Census of 1850 counted 8,327 hemp "plantations" (minimum 2,000 acre farms) growing cannabis hemp for cloth, canvas and even the cordage used for baling cotton. (This figure does not include the tens of thousands of smaller farms growing cannabis, nor the hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of family hemp patches in America.)

    In 1942, after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines cut off the supply of manila (Abaca) hemp, the U.S. government distributed 400,000 pounds of cannabis seeds to American farmers from Wisconsin to Kentucky, who produced 42,000 tons of hemp fiber annually for the war effort until 1946. In 1942–43 farmers were made to attend showings of the USDA film Hemp for Victory, sign that they had seen the film and read a hemp cultivation booklet. Farmers from 1942 through 1945 who agreed to grow hemp were waived from serving in the military, along with their sons; that's how vitally important hemp was to America during World War II.

    The paintings of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Gainsborough, etc., were primarily painted on hemp canvas, as were practically all canvas paintings.

    Botany I rank
    with the most
    valuable sciences.
    One of the most beneficial aspects of using hemp (or other plants) for fuel is that, as plants grow, the plants take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and replace it with oxygen. This helps solve one of our primary environmental problems: too much carbon dioxide. When a portion of the hemp plant is burned for fuel, it has already "earned" the oxygen it uses by having placed that oxygen in the atmosphere while it grew. Fossil fuels (oil, gas, or coal), on the other hand, come from plant and animal sources that died millions of years ago—whatever carbon dioxide they took or oxygen they left happened millions of years ago. Burning fossil fuels, then, only adds to carbon dioxide and reduces the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere.
    The hemp plant has remarkable potential for agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and the environment. And yet, cultivating, using, or even possessing hemp can get you mandatory life imprisonment. If you possess enough of it and the government determines you are a big time pot seller, you could be put to death.
    As with most consensual crimes, this prohibition of hemp is both silly and sinister. As Dr. Fred Oerther asked,

    Should we believe self-serving, ever-growing drug enforcement/drug treatment bureaucrats, whose pay and advancement depends on finding more and more people to arrest and "treat"?

    More Americans die in just one day in prisons, penitentiaries, jails and stockades than have ever died from marijuana throughout history. Who are they protecting? From what?


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