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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2 thoughts on “Hemp: A Viable Option for a Sustainable Future

  1. A wonderfully smartly-written article, exceptionally presented. Here in CA, those same only arguments you mentioned are being recalled in opposition to Prop 19. The sustainability and income arguments will be lost in the noise… if we let them.

    • Hopefully, we won’t let that happen. California was the leader in legalization of medical marijuana. Most states still have to catch up. It would be a shame of the Golden State were to take steps backwards. Do you know if any states have any initiatives to legalize the growth of industrial hemp?

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