This week is Hemp History Week. Because I so strongly believe that allowing American farmers to grow this incredibly versatile plant could make a huge difference for our planet and for all of us, I’m posting a blog each day in celebration.
Despite its myriad uses--hemp is used to make food, textiles, paper, building materials and personal care products--cultivating this useful plant is illegal in the United States because hemp is a distant cousin of marijuana, albeit with minute levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gets marijuana users high. Because the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says it can’t tell the difference between hemp and marijuana, the last legal hemp crop was harvested in 1957. That’s sorry news for us; products made from hemp grown in Canada, China and Eastern Europe (where it’s legal) amounted to $300 million in annual retail sales in North America in 2009.
A must-see 2008 film, Hempsters: Plant the Seed, follows pro-hemp activists including Woody Harrelson, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Ralph Nader and a host of farmers, politicians, businessmen and citizens as they seek out the truth about this mysterious and demonized plant. Whether or not you plan to see the movie, this website is worth a visit. You can watch clips of Woody, Willie and others talking about hemp’s benefits and the insanity of making it illegal, and Willie will even sing to you.
A few juicy bits from Hempster’s “10 Reasons Why” hemp cultivation should be legal in the United States:
“Hemp itself, having so many uses and being a miracle plant, is about sustainability.”
“There’s a reason that the powers-that-be put that plant here, and to eradicate it from all over the planet isn’t exactly what the big guy had in mind, if you know what I mean.”
“It occurs to me somewhat hilarious in a way that if you started outlawing everything that looked like a drug we’d have to outlaw powdered sugar because you can’t tell the difference between powdered sugar and cocaine by looking at it.”
--Former Kentucky Gov. Julian Carroll
“We have to change our languaging and stop calling hemp the alternative. Hemp is the solution.”
--Julia Butterfly Hill