Hemp: A Viable Option for a Sustainable Future

I recently saw the film The Union: The Business of Getting High, an Oscar nominated documentary about the marijuana trade in British Columbia. What I found interesting was that the outlaws who are growing and selling marijuana illegally hold the same stance as the oil, timber, pharmaceutical and textile industries, as well as the government, in that they prefer it to remain illegal. These outlaws, industries, and governments all share the same trait – they make great amounts of money due to the fact that marijuana is illegal.

I also recently saw another documentary called The Hemp Revolution. Both films touch upon the fact that hemp used to be a mainstay in American society and in society the world over. It is the most versatile, sustainable plant on the planet, bar none. We can produce fuel from it to replace oil. We can grow fabric from it with no need for the pesticides and herbicides currently needed to grow cotton. It can replace timber to make paper – stronger, more durable, longer lasting paper than any trees we will ever cut down or rainforest we destroy.

It’s an unfortunate fact of history that in the 1930’s, as William Randolph Hearst was striving to turn his acres of timber into profit and other leaders in non-renewable resources were striving to pimp out their industries, these people, seeing the potential for hemp to make their industries obsolete, lobbied to make hemp illegal. Their method included three steps. The first was to scare the public into believing that the hallucinogenic properties of cannabis sativa indica, known as marijuana by most, brought violence, insanity, and even death in those who used it. Their claims were outright lies disproved time and again by scientists the world over, yet their sales pitch worked allowing them to move to their next step – convincing people that cannabis sativa sativa, the industrial hemp which has no hallucinogenic properties, actually had hallucinogenic properties. Once the connection was made, the third step was easy.

In 1937, the US government passed the Marijuana Stamp Tax Act, claiming that the only people who could grow any type of cannabis needed to have a Marijuana Stamp. Unfortunately, the government refused to sell any of the stamps, leaving our need for fuel in the hands of the oil companies, our need for textiles in the hands of the cotton industry, and our need for paper in the hands of the timber companies. Since ostracizing cannabis from our society, these powers have continued to portray the plant as some demonic entity, resulting in one of the greatest tragedies of our civilization.

Due to this campaign of misunderstanding, we have relegated ourselves to cutting down millions of acres of forest, an act which has contributed greatly to global warming and rampant environmental degradation. We have had two oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico this summer alone, not to mention the carbon emissions that petrochemical use has put into our atmosphere, again contributing to climate change. We have polluted our waterways and diminished our health with the use of harmful chemicals by growing inferior crops to provide our textile needs. Yet although we continue to follow these practices which cause so much harm to ourselves and the planet, we keep the hemp plant illegal, telling ourselves that our government, the one which is supposed to be “by the people, of the people, and for the people,” will never make it legal.

What needs to happen is we need to wake up. What needs to happen is for us to realize that cannabis is a plant, an element of nature, and if we are going to live in any kind of harmony with nature, and create any type of sustainable future, we had better start being kinder to her. We need to remember that working with nature led to a grand leap in our civilization with the Agricultural Revolution, and realize that nature may have something better to offer us than the methods which are currently destroying us. We need to acknowledge that these methods are not only destroying us with environmental degradation, but with innumerable health risks and a devious tendency to be always related to war, contention, and death. We need to stop using these harmful products and start using products that are sustainable, healthy, and clean.

We are not going to destroy the planet. The planet will care for itself. We may continue to incite global warming, in which case, the planet will become too inhospitable for us to survive, but the planet will go on. We’ll die out, the planet will cool, and life will begin again. What we need to do is protect ourselves. Currently, with the greed-consumed interests which are forcing us to accept the pollution they’re selling, it does not seem that we are on the road to doing that.

The legalization of hemp is a huge step in the right direction. Imagine the boost it would give to our agricultural industry. Hemp is a far more sustainable and versatile crop than any corn or soybean on the market. We could completely revolutionize our agricultural industry. We could completely revolutionize our textile industry. We could revolutionize our fuel industry. We could revolutionize our medicinal industry.

Although the stigma around marijuana that the the non-renewable resource industries manufactured is still held by almost as many Americans as use these resources, fourteen states have realized the potential for this natural medicine and passed laws to allow its use. Regardless of any fabricated fears that still remain in the American psyche, more and more people are awakening to the reality that cannabis in any form has never posed as great a risk to the human condition as oil, coal, tobacco, cotton, caffeine, pharmaceuticals, or timber.

The people in control of the industries which conspired to make hemp illegal in the first place still do not want this plant to be made legal. They will not concede their power easily. However, the truth is that we do not need to use oil anymore to make fuel. We can use biodiesel and ethanol made from the hemp plant. We do not need to cut down any more forests to make paper, or even lumber. We could use hemp. We no longer need to pollute our waterways with the herbicides and pesticides needed to grow corn and cotton. Hemp doesn’t need them. We can probably get rid of the coal industry as well. Now that the mountains are flattened out, with a bit of compost we could probably grow some pretty good hemp crops in West Virginia, and hemp burns a lot cleaner than coal.

What we need is a revolution. History tells us that a revolution will happen. They always do. This era of black hearts running black power will come to an end. This Second Dark Age will come into the light and green will be allowed to blossom. This revolution will happen. The only questions are how we will respond to it and how we are going to direct it. How will we ride this tide from Black to Green?

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My mission is to write the world.

This is why I do what I do…

I feel a growing revolution in conscious living, social marketing, environmental sustainability, and abounding creativity. This revolution was put in motion by a pulse that has been felt from generation to generation. From my perspective, the last one started with the Beats, climaxed with the Civil Rights Movement, and crashed with the Hippies. As this current movement has gained momentum for more than a decade starting with Generation X, this new wave is nearing its first tipping point. Following the Agricultural, Industrial, and Information Revolutions, I believe that this development is the next great step for mankind. I believe that by aligning these various aspects of the four pillars of our community – conscious living, social marketing, environmental sustainability, and abounding creativity – with the four aspects our being – mind, heart, body, and spirit – we will usher in the Age of Wisdom.

This is how I do what I do…

By realizing the beautiful connectedness of all ideas and how they can be put together, I produce words in various orders so that they may become manifest in action to help others also see the connection.

This is what I do… I communicate the vision of my heart with the people who feel the same beat and I inspire them to share their vision with others in order for the vision to grow and for the world to see a new reality.

My mission is to write the world.

Creative Evolution

Regardless of what cultural myth we believe in to describe the origin of our planet, whether it be the story of the Creation in Genesis, the Big Bang Theory, or that the world sprung for a lotus flower, the same truth can be applied to all environmental, societal, political, and technological growth to ever occur. At first there was nothing, then there was something small, then it grew into its own entity. A quark grew into an atom which grew into a molecule which grew into matter. Every tree, every belief system, every government, and every machine was created in the same way.

Creativity is the talent through which this growth can be guided. Innovation is the skill of putting it to good use. Sustainability is making it last. Wisdom is knowing your place in it.

Steve McAllister

Steve McAllister

In addition to serving as Managing Editor and contributor to Modern Hippie Mag, Steve McAllister is an actor, musician, accomplished author, filmmaker, and the man behind Your Daily Groove. His most recent novel, The McAllister Code is available as an e-book at www.themcallistercode.com. Find Steve on Twitter, @InkenSoul. Read his reviews and articles here.

In Defense of the Cannabis Family

While fourteen states have legalized medical marijuana, on a national level, there is still a stigma about the plant that we just haven’t been able to get around. We have legalized most everything we can put a price tag on although much of it causes more health, environmental, and relationship problems than marijuana. And even though industrial hemp has long been considered the most useful, sustainable, and versatile agricultural product in existence, it is still illegal to grow in the United States. Why is our culture so determined to demonize the entire Cannabis family?

Perhaps it is the similarity to the word “cannibal.” Then again, we gave Anthony Hopkins an Oscar so we have no unsurpassable disdain for those with alternative eating habits. So why those with different smoking habits? (By the way, it can also be used for cooking. The brownies are smashing.)

Based on the continued presence of the Tobacco Industry, it obviously can’t be the smoking itself that we have a problem with. We accept the liver failure from alcohol, the emphysema from cigarettes, the high cholesterol of butter, and the irregular bowel movements, nausea, and sexual dysfunctions of pharmaceuticals, so the problem can’t be with health concerns. Perhaps it is the altered consciousness?

Most any doctor can get you uppers, downers, oxys, xandy bars, manufactured THC, or a number of other mood-enhancing concoctions. As long as you’ve got good insurance or a hefty bank account, you and the Pharmaceutical Industry can get you to pretty much any level of consciousness you’d like, within the realm of Science. Perhaps it’s the ease of accessibility and inability to tax it all?

Nevertheless, people could grow their own tomatoes if they wanted to, yet most of them still opt to purchase them from someone with a little more skill in the art of gardening. Considering the clamor of those who want the right to purchase marijuana and hemp products, surely some sort of market could be established in order to turn at least a moderate profit for the good tax-paying citizens who would save their neighbors from having to tend to the plants themselves. Thinking a bit larger, corporate entities could allow for the research of recommended dosage and create quite an industry from knowledgeable use. Perhaps it is the fear of mass addiction?

Fortunately, there is already an established Marijuana Anonymous treatment program should anyone wish to use it after finishing up with Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous, and Crystal Meth Anonymous. Considering that people are going to find their way to addictions whether they are legal or not, could it be a question of morality?

Is cannabis good or is it evil? I guess that depends on how much fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you’ve eaten. How much perfect, divine understanding do you think you’ve achieved since following the serpent up the windy path of morality? Can we honestly judge the morality of a non-human thing? Can we gauge the morality of a plant any more than we can gauge the morality of a tiger, an antelope, or a toaster oven? Shouldn’t more weight should be given to the value of a thing? In which context are we thinking? Are we living in a perfect garden of abundance where all things sprout from the perfect will of God or have we been cast out where the world conspires against us?

The question we need to ask is, is it worthless? Even though it may not be fully appreciated by many, does it have any useful value for our society? Surely, it can’t be without worth altogether. Can there be no value in it when people cry for it and risk jail time to use it as medicine? Can we really find no value in the clothing, plastics, paper, food, and fuel that can be made from it? It sure seems like we value them when those items are made from petroleum and other less sustainable resources.

So why do we fight so hard to limit our economic development, our environmental sustainability, and our neighbors’ freedom to develop his own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness? Does anyone have an ironclad idea of how it could make economic, social, or emotional sense to not pardon the Cannabis family and ingratiate them into our culture?

The Audacity of Democracy

In trying to wade through the political mechanism created to run America it is apparent that the two party’s are primarily the same. In the grand scheme of life, we’re all the same. Down to the construction of our DNA, the helixes for any given person aren’t all that different. Spinning up that helix back to the political process at hand, each of the parties in question are still part of the same broken machine and probably don’t do a whole lot to successfully achieve the tasks we hope they will. But the platforms are different. And as shallow as that may seem, that is the only differentiation between the two parties. So call me shallow, or call me deluded, or deceived, or whatever you want, but I must make my decisions based on the variations that are given me, lest black and white truly become gray matter.

I don’t vote for Republicans on the national level primarily because they have been usurped by the Religious Wrong, they still think that the Iraq War was a good idea, they want to spend even more money on developing nuclear weapons that they say we will never use, they still harp on the fact that Roe vs. Wade is in effect instead of focusing their human rights agendas on more pertinent situations, they too often attempt to legislate morality thereby usurping the free will and grace of God, they pander incessantly to corporations and take vile recourses to achieve their places in the highest pantheon of capitalism where the dollar is truly the god in which we trust.

I can’t speak for all Democrats, but I like Obama because he was against this war from the get go and because I read his book. He has faith, but is not overtly religious…. And that’s all for now.

I’m registered as an independent. I probably should just own up to the fact that we’re living in a two party system and register as a Democrat so I can vote in the primaries, but I have an ethical dilemma with taxpayers paying for private party’s decision processes. The idealist in me still believes in a better way and hopes for a true democracy. Nevertheless, perhaps I should just keep hope alive by grounding myself in reality and accept it as a brick paving the way to a better future.

Then again, maybe I should buck the system and let cynicism rule, remaining gleefully buoyant in the bliss of my ignorance and irresponsibility.

We have a broken, antiquated, two party system. Honestly, my vote for Democrats is a vote against Republicans because I don’t have a lot of faith in what is currently passing for a democratic system in the United States of America. Truth be told I don’t have a lot of faith in the Democratic Party, which is why I am registered independent. And I abhor most of what the Rethuglican party stands for.

However, I do have faith in the spirit of man, and upon reading Barack Obama’s book, I did see evidence of strong moral character and leadership ability.

Proactive Democracy?

Regarding the Circle of Influence/Circle of Concern idea proposed by Stephen Covey in relation to our foreign affairs. Is the implementation of democracy in Afghanistan or Iraq, or any other country for that matter, in America’s Circle of Concern or our Circle of Influence? How effective can we really be at forcing people into accepting a government that they much run after so much time of the government being run for them? Should democracy be attained by the people for whom it will serve and not given to them?

Look at the difference between a college student who has worked for his college tuition, either by hard work or earning a scholarship, and the college student whose way is paid by his parents at no cost or sacrifice to himself. Generally, the student who had to work for it is much more studious, more driven, and more thankful for the opportunity. He will undoubtedly take a more active role in his education because he has been involved in earning it.

The state of democracy in America today is a testament to what happens when democracy is not worked for. Our democracy was given to this generation and it is largely taken for granted. Today, roughly 70% of the population doesn’t bother to vote. How much higher would that number be if we had our democracy taken away from us and had to fight to take it back?

Then again, considering that the personhood of the corporation has now purchased our system, we might actually find out the answer to that question soon than we think.

People of the World… Relax

There’s a lot of scary stuff going on in the paper, a lot more unknown and hidden behind the byline. And some may say that it’s easy for me to speak of peace in the shadow of the redwoods away from the roving DC sniper and the bombs of the Holy Land. And they would be absolutely right. I have been fortunate enough to escape such crises in my own life for the time being, and it is very easy for me to speak of peace, as well as breathe it in and out all day. And that is the very reason that I do it. Many people don’t have that option. Perhaps I’m trying to balance the scales because too many of us are slipping to the other side because of the enchanting allure of emotion inherent in the gravity of our situations. Too many of us carry too much weight in basket loads of despair, instead of dumping out some worries and having a more carefree picnic.
I mentioned before the writers who have come my way over the last year and the lessons I’ve learned from them or was often reminded of through their words. One such writer, a visionary wordsmith who has yet to cease blowing my mind, is Tom Robbins. And as I close this chapter and head south to a warmer horizon with slightly fuller pockets, work-weathered hands, and a well-earned smile, a fierce invalid headed to hot climates, I leave you with one of his thoughts to ponder at stoplights and during muted commercial breaks.
“People of the world – relax.”
Before you stress, before you worry, before you fear, before you judge, relax. Before you work, before you eat, before you sleep, before you shop, relax. The only thing facing you is a moment. Relax. Relish it. Learn from it, and move to the next one. It’s sometimes harder to practice than to write about, but it’s an acquired skill I’ve found to be worth engaging.
And right now, with the climate of our culture – our environment of group individuality, stable insecurity, and life-affirming fear – this is my hope for the world: that those who can relax will. Relax our preconceived notions about our fellow man. Relax our fears over his intentions. Relax our habit of comparing our lives to his. Relax our grip on the control that eludes us anyway. Relax our schedules of always seeking more than enough. Relax our priorities of getting more than we need. Relax the muscles in our faces and the consternation in our voices. Relax our need to voice our opinions and, instead, look them over again. Relax our need to teach, and recall our need to learn. Relax our need to be right. Relax our need to be secured when we’re already safe. Security is a wonderful thing until it makes that subtle switch to bondage. I only have enough respect for life to know that it must be lived.
If you can wake up in the morning, lie still, blink, and stretch, you have the possibility for peace. Take a deep breath, and before your lungs are even full, before you decide upon a mood, before you face the dilemmas you’ve created for yourself, before your feet touch the floor, relax. Exhale. Repeat that breath throughout your day.
People of the world – relax.

This is an excerpt of The Rucksack Letters by Steve McAllister. Buy your copy of the eBook on Amazon.com.