Monday, April 23, 2007
Growing hemp was outlawed in the United States in 1937, coincidentally (or not) just as Dupont's new product Nylon hit the nation's markets. Nylon did everything hemp could do - the only difference being that people could grow hemp anywhere for free. And they did - prior to 1937, that is.
This is one of the reasons why Hemp was such a valuable plant throughout history. It is a hardy plant and grows like a "weed," requiring very little (if any) pesticides - unlike cotton, which is one of the most pesticide intensive crops. The fibers can be spun into cloth for rope and sails that don't rot - which is why hemp was used for the rigging on old-time clipper ships. The seeds are an excellent source of protein. You can also make fine and durable paper from hemp - drafts of the US Constitution were written on hemp. George Washington was a hemp farmer.
The only problem is that you can no longer grow hemp in the United States. It is illegal. Why? Hemp - the plant that grows like a "weed" is also the plant that produces fragrant flowering "buds" which are commonly smoked as marijuana. However, there is a plant, known as "industrial hemp" which has no THC content (THC is the substance that gets you "high"). This too, however, is illegal.
The above film was made in 1942 by the US Government, extolling the virtues of hemp, and imploring American farmers to grow more of it. The USDA and Library of Congress denied the existence of such a film, until someone found a copy. And now it is on the internet for all to see! Talk about the power of the internet!
So if hemp is so great, how come it is illegal? Think about it.
Posted by Michael Nystrom