View Full Version : Hemp - The Demonized Seed

January 20th, 2004, 05:36 PM
Text of LA Times Sunday Magazine Cover Story:

"If This Magazine Cover Were Made From Hemp, It Would Be Eco-Friendly, High Quality and Totally Drug-Free. So Tell Us Again Why Growing Hemp Is Illegal?"

The Demonized Seed
As a Recreational Drug, Industrial Hemp Packs the Same Wallop as Zucchini. So Why Does the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Continue to Deny America This Potent Resource? Call It Reefer Madness.

By Lee Green
Los Angeles Times

January 18, 2004

On an otherwise unremarkable day nearly 30 years ago, in a San Fernando Valley head shop, an ordinary man on LSD had an epiphany. The one thing that could save the world, it came to him, was hemp.

Thunderbolts come cheap on LSD, but this one looked good to Jack Herer even after his head cleared. The world needed relief from its addiction to oil and petrochemicals. From deforestation and malnutrition. From dirty fuels, sooty air, exhausted soils and pesticides. The extraordinary hemp plant could solve all those problems. Herer was sure of it. Thus began his journey as a heralding prophet.

For 12 years, Herer expanded his knowledge of hemp, burrowing deep into U.S. government archives and writing about his discoveries in alternative newspapers and magazines. He self-published "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," an impassioned rant for the utilitarian virtues of cannabis sativa, the ancient species that gives us both hemp and marijuana, which are genetically distinct. Experts agree that in contrast to marijuana, cannabis hemp-or industrial hemp as it is often called-has no drug characteristics. (See sidebar on Page 14.)

Herer's book, quirky but substantive enough to be taken seriously, inspired thousands and became an underground classic. The author has issued 16 printings over the years, revising and updating his material 11 times. Today, Herer is widely credited with launching the modern hemp movement, a persistent campaign by an eclectic coalition of environmentalists, legislators, rights activists, farmers, scientists, entrepreneurs and others to end the maligned plant's banishment and tap its potential as a natural resource.

Despite the book's over-the-top exuberance and occasional leaps of syllogistic fancy-or more likely because of them-it has sold 665,000 copies in seven languages. Or is it 635,000 copies in eight languages? The prophet isn't sure as he pads across the abused gray carpet of his two-bedroom Van Nuys apartment, a flower-child domicile to which the benefits of even the most rudimentary housekeeping remain foreign. Beard unkempt, hair askew, Herer matches the décor. "How can they make the one thing that can save the world illegal?" he asks, no less astonished by this paradox now than he was three decades ago.

Herer's question is essentially the same one hemp advocates in the U.S. have been asking with mounting consternation for the past decade. They are asking it now with new urgency in response to the Drug Enforcement Agency's latest foray against hemp, an attempt since 2001 to ban all food products containing even a trace of hemp, even though the foods are not psychoactive. The California-based Hemp Industries Assn. and seven companies that make or sell hemp products won a reprieve for the industry in June, when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the DEA's efforts "procedurally invalid." But the matter remains in litigation, and the hemp issue continues to confound policymakers.

California's Legislature passed a bill on behalf of hemp not long ago that, in its final, watered-down form, could hardly have been less ambitious. Assembly Bill 388, approved in 2002 by wide margins in both chambers, merely requested that the University of California assess the economic opportunities associated with several alternative fiber crops. But because one of the crops was cannabis hemp, then-Gov. Gray Davis vetoed the measure, leaving California uncharacteristically behind the curve on a progressive issue that many other states and nations have embraced in recent years.

If all or even most of the oft-cited claims for hemp are true, the substance may know no earthly equal among nontoxic renewable resources. If only half the claims are true, hemp's potential as a commercial wellspring and a salve to creeping eco-damage is still immense. At worst it is more useful and diverse than most agricultural crops. Yet from the 1930s through the 1980s, many countries, influenced by U.S. policies and persuasion, banished cannabis from their farmlands. Not just marijuana, but all cannabis-the baby, the bath water, all of it.

Confronted with declining demand for their tobacco, farmers in Kentucky, where hemp was the state's largest cash crop until 1915, argue that commercial hemp could help save their farms. California doesn't face that particular dilemma but, in theory, hemp agriculture eventually could bestow innumerable benefits on the state, from tax revenues to healthier farm soils and reductions in forest logging for wood and paper. Environmentally benign hemp crops could replace at least some of California's 1 million acres of water-intensive and chemical-laden cotton.

Since taking root in the early 1990s, the hemp movement has made great progress around the world. Unfenced fields of the tall, cane-like plants flourish in Austria, Italy, Portugal, Ireland-the entire European Union. Great Britain reintroduced the crop in 1993. Germany legalized it in 1996. Australia followed suit two years later, as did Canada. Among the world's major industrial democracies, only the United States still forbids hemp farming. If an American farmer were to fill a field with this drugless crop, the government would consider him a felon. For selling his harvest he would be guilty of trafficking and would face a fine of as much as $4 million and a prison sentence of 10 years to life. Provided, of course, it is his first offense.

This for a crop as harmless as rutabaga.

Prejudiced by nearly 70 years of government and media propaganda against all things cannabis, most Americans have no idea that hemp crops once flourished from Virginia to California. Prized for thousands of years for its fiber, the plant rode commerce from Asia to Europe in the first millennium and sailed to the New World in the second. American colonists grew it in the early 1600s. Two centuries later, hemp was the nation's third-largest agricultural commodity. The U.S. census of 1850 counted 8,327 hemp plantations, and those were just the largest ones. California farmers cultivated it at least into the 1930s.

If all this seems hazy to the American mind, it's because cannabis hemp slowly vanished from our farms and our cultural memory. The abolition of slavery following the Civil War put hemp at a competitive disadvantage because its harvest and processing required intensive labor. The industry slowly declined to the brink of extinction as cotton captured the fiber market, but by the mid-1930s new machinery could efficiently extract hemp's fibers from its stalk, and the plant was poised for economic recovery. The February 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics hailed it as the "New Billion-Dollar Crop," while a concurrent issue of Mechanical Engineering deemed hemp "The Most Profitable and Desirable Crop That Can Be Grown."

The trail grows murkier here, but the crucial element of this buried history lies beyond dispute: In 1935, the U.S. government-in particular the Bureau of Narcotics (part of the Treasury Department and a predecessor to the present-day U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency) and its chief, Harry J. Anslinger-embarked on an inflammatory campaign to convince the public of the evils of marijuana.

The Hearst newspapers had acquired a taste for sensationalistic headlines and lurid stories about Mexicans and "marijuana-crazed Negroes" assaulting, raping and murdering whites. It was all nonsense, but Anslinger shamelessly parroted these myths and concocted his own in congressional testimony and in speeches and articles, branding marijuana the "worst evil of all." In a 1937 magazine piece titled "Marijuana, the Assassin of Youth," he blamed suicides and "degenerate sex attacks" on the drug.

"Marijuana is the unknown quantity among narcotics," he wrote. "No one knows, when he smokes it, whether he will become a philosopher, a joyous reveler, a mad insensate, or a murderer." Prior to such calculated misstatements, few Americans had smoked marijuana. Most had never even heard of it.

The government's motives for its attack on marijuana remain unclear. Researchers have proffered theories ranging from collusion with corporations threatened by hemp's commercial potential to moralistic fervor and bureaucratic thirst for domain once Prohibition ended in 1933. Regardless of motives, the ensuing stigmatization, red tape, state and federal controls, punitive taxes and misconceptions about marijuana's nature and its relationship to hemp doomed any chance that hemp would be resurrected as an agricultural crop. Fewer and fewer farmers were willing to grow it, and manufacturers sought other resources for rope, twine, nets, sailcloth, textiles, paint and other fiber and oil products for which hemp is well suited. The government briefly reversed course during World War II, launching an aggressive "Hemp for Victory" campaign that implored U.S. farmers to grow the crop to alleviate wartime materials shortages. But after the war, hemp again faded into oblivion.

In 1957, a Wisconsin farmer harvested the last legal commercial hemp crop in America. The government's outright prohibition of the crop, a nonissue until interest in hemp renewed in the early 1990s, was formalized in 1971 with implementation of the Controlled Substances Act, the centerpiece of U.S. drug policy.

Today's reawakened market faces an uphill battle in the U.S., not just because source materials can't be grown here but because decades of enforced hibernation have left the industry light-years behind in technology, infrastructure, research and development, marketing and public acceptance. Hemp Industries Assn., a consortium of about 250 importers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, says that in the past decade the North American market has gone from virtually nothing to an estimated $200 million. Not bad under the circumstances, but still a pittance for a plant that could clothe and house us, build and fuel our cars, enhance our diets and keep the front gate from squeaking.

Hemp has attracted many passionate advocates over the years simply because of its relation to the illegal drug. But a glance at hemp's résumé makes it clear why a mere vegetable could inspire a devout constituency that transcends the counterculture. Hemp's products, its proponents insist, are interchangeable with those from timber or petroleum. The fiber volume supplied by trees that take 30 years to grow can be harvested from hemp just three or four months after the seeds go into the ground-and on half the land. Hemp requires no herbicides, little or no pesticide, and it grows faster than almost any other plant: from seed to 10 feet or taller in just a few months. Unlike most crops, it actually enriches rather than depletes the soil. As a textile it has proven stronger than cotton, warmer than linen, comfortable to wear and durable. As a building material, its extraordinarily long fibers test stronger than wood or concrete. As a nutrient it contains one of nature's most perfectly balanced oils, high in protein, richer in vitamin E than soy and possessing all eight essential fatty acids.

But because hemp contains traces of the chemical intoxicant known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the U.S. government lists cannabis as a Schedule I drug, a category reserved for the most dangerous and medically useless drugs. Methamphetamine, PCP and cocaine don't warrant that classification, but hemp does, right alongside heroin and LSD. The word hemp doesn't actually appear on the list, but the drug-war establishment, particularly the instrumental DEA, behaves as though it does by recognizing no distinction between varieties of cannabis.

The DEA sometimes seems bent on fomenting confusion. Two years ago, during his brief tenure as head of the agency, Asa Hutchinson stated that "many Americans do not know that hemp and marijuana are both parts of the same plant and that hemp cannot be produced without producing marijuana." One reason many Americans do not know this is because it's not true. That's like saying beagles and collies are both parts of the same dog and that beagles cannot be produced without producing collies.

Unmoved by logic, accepted nomenclature or the realities of plant genetics, the DEA insists that all cannabis is marijuana. Does the agency also consider industrial hemp grown legally outside the U.S. to be marijuana? "Yes, we do," says Frank Sapienza, the agency's chief of drug and chemical evaluation. Since more than 30 other countries manage to distinguish between marijuana and industrial hemp and allow their farmers to grow hemp, one wonders what they know that the U.S. doesn't. "I'm not going to comment on what other countries do," Sapienza says.

The DEA argues that the revival of hemp farming in the U.S. will somehow increase the availability, use and public acceptance of marijuana. Hemp activists dismiss this argument out of hand, as does one of their most formidable allies, former CIA Director James R. Woolsey. Hailing from the political right, Woolsey vehemently opposes any loosening of America's marijuana laws. But in his experience, he says, most people, once they become informed about hemp, see no justification for America's prohibition against the crop. "They understand that there's not been any increase in use of marijuana in, say, Europe or Canada as a result of industrial hemp cultivation. It's one of those issues in which there are no real substantive arguments on the other side."

Sapienza points out, as DEA officials often do, that the agency merely enforces the law. In truth, though, the DEA also interprets the law, creates exemptions to it and makes judgments that determine how statutory abstractions translate to on-the-ground realities. A case in point is the agency's declaration in late 2001 that all edible hemp products-cereals, health bars, sodas, salad oils and the like, products sold in the U.S. for years-are illegal. Hundreds of retailers were given a few months to get such items off their shelves. If a federal court hadn't intervened, a multimillion-dollar industry would have been wiped out by a DEA decision to reinterpret existing law. For now, edible hemp products remain legal and commercially available in the U.S., pending a 9th Circuit court ruling expected sometime this year.

Despite hemp's stigma, state legislatures in recent years have been surprisingly bold in their willingness to address the issue. Though Davis vetoed California's 2002 bill requesting research, in 1999 both the state Assembly and the California Democratic Party approved unambiguous resolutions supporting hemp commercialization. Twelve other states have passed similar resolutions or bills. Since 1997, North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, West Virginia and Maryland have legalized cultivation, and in 2000, the National Conference of State Legislatures passed a resolution urging the federal government to clear the barriers to domestic hemp production. But entrenched federal opposition renders all these political machinations meaningless beyond symbolic value.

The DEA, which is within the Justice Department, justifies its unbending posture on hemp with assertions that legal hemp agriculture would provide camouflage for illegal pot growers. From the air or at a distance, the agency says, industrial hemp and marijuana are virtually indistinguishable.

"The DEA is wrong," says Indiana University professor emeritus Paul Mahlberg, a plant cell biologist who has studied cannabis for more than 25 years and is conducting research on 150 different strains, both hemp and marijuana. "Hemp plants are tall, 8 to 20 feet. Marijuana plants in the field are shorter." And cultivated hemp grows a slender, nearly leafless lower stem, whereas marijuana strains are bred to be "Christmas tree-like in appearance," with abundant leaves, glands and flowers in which are stored the intoxicating THC.

Marijuana's bushiness requires far more space per plant, says John Roulac, a compost expert and owner of the Sebastopol, Calif., health-food company Nutiva, which imports sterilized hemp seed from Canada for nutrition bars. From the ground or the air, a hemp crop looks significantly denser than a marijuana crop. "In a square yard, you might grow one or two marijuana plants, whereas with hemp you might have 100 plants," Roulac says.

The argument about physical appearance should be a nonissue, hemp advocates say, given that the last place a marijuana grower would want to locate his drug crop is in or near a hemp field. The consensus among cannabis experts, supported by the logic of plant genetics and field studies, is that cross-pollination would sabotage the pot grower's efforts, causing his next generation of marijuana to be only half as potent. This genetic convenience delights hard-line anti-marijuana types such as Woolsey, the former CIA chief. He was skeptical about pro-hemp arguments when he first heard them. "But then I got into the science of it a bit, and it was quite clear to me that not only is [hemp cultivation] a good idea, it's a major headache for marijuana [growers]," he says with an impish laugh. If it were up to Woolsey, tall, lush fields of industrial hemp would be greening America, filling the sky with airborne pollen and frustrating marijuana growers everywhere.

The DEA flatly rejects the idea that a hemp field would degrade any marijuana in the vicinity. A spokeswoman for the agency recently maintained that "it cannot be said with any level of certainty that a cannabis plant of relatively low THC content will necessarily reduce the THC content of other plants grown in close proximity."

Hemp may be absurdly intertwined with marijuana, but the DEA could ease restrictions on hemp simply by removing marijuana from its list of most dangerous drugs. That may sound radical to a public conditioned to believe marijuana is as dangerous as heroin, but Mitch Earleywine, a drug addiction expert and associate professor of clinical psychology at USC, doesn't think so. In reviewing about 500 marijuana studies for his recent book "Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence," Earleywine found little or no scientific evidence for any of the most prominent allegations against the drug, least of all that it causes violent or aggressive behavior, decreases motivation or acts as a gateway to harder drugs. It is addictive, he says, but "it's nowhere near the caliber of, say, heroin, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, any of those drugs." Should it be a Schedule I controlled substance? "In all honesty, the idea that it has to be scheduled at all might be up for question," he says. "Americans are just too freaked out about [marijuana]."

One of the most persistent charges against the hemp lobby is that it's really just a marijuana movement in disguise.

"Let's not play dumb here," says America's reigning drug czar, John P. Walters of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "It is no coincidence that proponents of marijuana have invested a great deal of time and money in an effort to expand hemp cultivation. They do this not, one presumes, from any special interest in industrial fiber resources, but from an earnest belief that more widespread domestic hemp cultivation will make the cultivation and distribution of marijuana easier, and that a legal hemp industry would frustrate law enforcement efforts against marijuana trafficking."

Unquestionably, the hemp and marijuana crowds overlap. Most pro-marijuana people think American farmers should be able to grow hemp, and many in the hemp movement condemn America's war on drugs and its marijuana laws. But the government's claim that virtually everyone pressing for hemp cultivation has a hidden agenda amounts to a sort of psychotropic McCarthyism. Eric Steenstra represents a Hungarian hemp textile producer and runs an Internet-based advocacy organization called Vote Hemp. "Industrial hemp is a peripheral issue to the drug war, but it has gotten caught up in it," he says. "It's frustrating. You can't discount this movement as being just a bunch of stoned hippies following the Grateful Dead."

Quips former Kentucky Gov. Louie B. Nunn: "Should we listen when Canada's Royal Mounted Police report no problems regulating hemp, or are they also working to legalize marijuana?"

Yes, there is Woody Harrelson, but the class photo also includes Nunn, Ralph Nader, Hugh Downs, Ted Turner and Woolsey, who sits on the board of directors of the North American Industrial Hemp Council, an advocacy organization founded in 1995.

"They've tried to tie us to the marijuana movement all along, and they can't get it done," says Erwin "Bud" Sholts, chair of the hemp council. Sholts is a 69-year-old farmer whose career as an alternative crop researcher for the state of Wisconsin convinced him America should consider hemp a valuable resource, not an outlaw crop. "If the rest of the world wants to make marijuana legal, that's fine, but we're interested in the agriculture crop."

When Jack Herer began his quest to emancipate hemp, he just assumed that everyone would find the essential facts about the plant's qualities so compelling that the battle would be won in six months-two years, tops. That was 29 years ago.

One of the many people intrigued by Herer's book was Dave West, a Midwest plant breeder with a doctorate in breeding and genetics. His curiosity about hemp had already been piqued by something he witnessed in the mid-1980s as he toiled one sweltering day in a Wisconsin cornfield. A helicopter suddenly appeared low in the sky, then hovered over an adjacent field while several men rappelled to the ground. It was a drug-enforcement operation going after wild marijuana. "Which, as a plant breeder and as somebody who grew up in Wisconsin, I knew was preposterous," West recalls. "I knew this was feral hemp and nobody wanted it, and that's why it was growing as a weed out there and nobody was picking it."

Since 1979, at a cost of millions of dollars annually ($13.5 million in 2002), the DEA has orchestrated an ambitious campaign of "marijuana eradication." The scene West observed in the cornfield was, and still is, a common one: a marijuana eradication team eradicating not marijuana but harmless feral hemp, often called "ditchweed." Escaped remnants from commercial hemp harvests of long ago still grow along railroad tracks and fence lines and in fields and culverts throughout America's heartland. Justice Department statistics show that year after year, as much as 98% of the "wild marijuana" the DEA pulls up is actually ditchweed.

"Here was an agency of the government that was selling this line"-calling ditchweed "marijuana"-"that was obviously a perversion of reality," West says. "This is a genetic resource issue. Instead of collecting, preserving and working with it, we're sending the DEA to rappel down from helicopters to pull it out and destroy it wherever they can find it."

From July 1999 until recently, West presided over a state-sanctioned, corporate-funded quarter-acre test plot of cannabis on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. He possessed the only DEA license to research cannabis for industrial use. To meet DEA requirements, he fortified his site with better security than you'd find at a typical Russian nuclear stockpile. Ten-foot-high fencing topped with barbed wire, an alarm siren, infrared beam perimeter. You'd think he was manufacturing enriched plutonium.

For nearly four years West worked to develop a strain of cannabis ideal for cultivation as industrial hemp in the United States. Funding proved difficult given that investors and grants don't tend to find their way to research for a crop that has been illegal in this country for 33 years. But when he shut down the project last fall, West says, his decision wasn't prompted so much by money woes as by the federal government's "strong and entrenched opposition to hemp." In a written statement he handed to DEA agents Sept. 30, the day he walked off the property for good, he left no doubt about his feelings. "I quit in protest," his statement said.

A few months earlier, he had begun girding himself for the unpleasant task of eliminating the very thing his labors had created. "When I pull the plug," he lamented with wry sarcasm, "the DEA will require that the seed be destroyed. It is, after all a narcotic with no known redeeming use here on this flat earth."

The DEA agents did indeed require West to destroy the seed. The government shows no signs that it will allow industrial hemp to be grown in the United States anytime soon.



A Cannabis Primer

Because they're often used interchangeably, the terms cannabis, hemp and marijuana can be confusing. While cannabis encompasses all varieties of the species, hemp, often called industrial hemp, has come to mean a few dozen nonintoxicating varieties of cannabis bred and cultivated for commercial ends: clothing, paper, food, biofuels, biodegradable plastic, building materials, automobile parts, insulators, paints, lubricants-the list of possibilities goes on.

Marijuana, on the other hand, refers strictly to the cannabis drug plant, of which there exist endless varieties differentiated by the amount of intoxicating substances they contain, notably tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Today virtually all strains of cannabis are the product of human alteration, manipulated by scientists, breeders and drug dealers to increase or decrease THC content and other characteristics to suit their purposes.

Mitch Earleywine, a drug addiction expert at USC, says marijuana typically contains a THC concentration of 2% to 5%, and some strains have measured as much as 22% or higher. By contrast, industrial hemp has been reduced by breeders to 0.3%, a trifle that authorities agree produces no psychoactive effect.



The Myth of Hemp Licensing

If you want to apply for a license to grow commercial hemp, you must solicit the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA consistently claims that no prohibition on hemp farming exists in this country, as if to suggest that all one need do is file the proper paperwork and make a reasonable case.

"We don't have any preconceived notions that we are or are not going to approve or deny any application," says Frank Sapienza, the DEA's chief of drug and chemical evaluation, implying that every case is a judgment call that could go either way.

Nonetheless, the agency has rejected every application it has ever received. How many? There's no telling-literally. The agency will say only that "the DEA does not have records of the number of applications received for such activities"-an extraordinary claim from an organization that documents every marijuana plant that it and cooperating law enforcement agencies uproot from U.S. soil. (In 2001, the total was 3,304,760 plants, though nearly all of them were feral hemp, or "ditchweed," not marijuana.)

Any denial that there is a U.S. hemp prohibition contradicts a salient fact: The DEA has never approved an application for commercial hemp cultivation.

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

January 20th, 2004, 06:36 PM

"Make the most of Hemp and sow it everywhere." ...George Washington

Cool name - Hemp! 8)

January 20th, 2004, 07:05 PM
RAYON (http://www.enchantedlearning.com/inventors/indexr.shtml)
Rayon is a cellulose-based fiber that is made from wood pulp or cotton waste. Rayon is used as a substitute for silk. It was invented around 1855 by the Swiss chemist Georges Audemars; the process was refined in 1864 by the French chemist and industrialist Comte (Count) Hilaire Bernigaud de Chardonnet (1839-1924). Rayon was first commercially produced in 1910 by Avtex Fibers Inc. in the United States - it was called "artificial silk" at first, but the name was changed to rayon in 1924.

An interesting student project (http://modelserver.arch.virginia.edu/WebData/poly/html/class%20pages/Lucia.htm).

January 20th, 2004, 08:56 PM
I find it particularly sickening to see commercials like the one run under the current "theantidrug" campaign. To waste our money trying to brainwash us into thinking marijuana is deadly is outrageous.

January 21st, 2004, 04:26 AM
The article certainly gives 'Reefer Madness' a new slant, or rather a reHASHed one. Hyuck, hyuck.

Speaking of....some attitudes just haven't really changed since the wowserism of the 1936 film "Reefer Madness" has been made. The film was made in close collaboration with the FBI.

The issues surrounding this are more organised and often a socio-politcal 'football' for more-than-often all the wrong reasons.

This could all be so simple.

We have 'legalised' hemp growing in Australia and everything is under control (BTW It's never been proven that hemp cultivation has led to out-of-control 'behaviour').

On a personal note...somebody bought me a hemp shirt 4 years ago and it's still something that I like to wear. I forget it's hemp. Nice style, nice material, provided employment in its making. I certainly have never had the desire to 'mull it up'...

...and never tire of this laughable propaganda of years gone by:

Ouwhhhh, eeeeeevil lurks and I'm scared http://www.handykult.de/plaudersmilies.de/sad/nervous.gif !!


LOL @ "Weird Orgies / Wild Parties"


January 21st, 2004, 10:42 PM
Janine Antoni
To Draw a Line, installation view at Luhring Augustine


The sculpture is big, bulky, vaguely imposing, but ultimately inert, Ann Hamilton and Richard Serra by way of Arte Povera. Two huge steel reels rest on ramps linked by rope. Below them lies a sprawling 4,000-pound pile of raw hemp, a sort of super smelly ьber-Oldenbergian Golden Fleece. Strands extending from this heap become the rope that encircles each reel. Part of the rope was made by Antoni, part by machine.

This sculpture was the setting for a performance that only a handful of people saw. Before her opening, Antoni appeared atop one of the spools as the invitation-only crowd fell into rapt silence. Calmly extending both arms, she began walking this tightrope. Initially, she was wobbly. I thought she'd fall immediately. Soon she gathered herself and shakily then steadily edged on. At the middle of the rope, she intentionally stopped as if to say, "This far and no further." Then she inched backward. After some rickety jitters, and after overcoming the whines and cries of babies, a cell phone rang in the crowd, Antoni fluttered back and forth, jerked to the left, tried to regain her balance, couldn't, then gave in. Serenely, almost in slow motion, she bowed her head deeply and gracefully somersaulted into the hemp below. The crowd applauded and the person with the cell phone slinked out.


April 26th, 2004, 02:21 AM
April 26, 2004


Make Peace With Pot


Starting in the fall, pharmacies in British Columbia will sell marijuana for medicinal purposes, without a prescription, under a pilot project devised by Canada's national health service. The plan follows a 2002 report by a Canadian Senate committee that found there were "clear, though not definitive" benefits for using marijuana in the treatment of chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and other ailments. Both Prime Minister Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, leader of the opposition conservatives, support the decriminalization of marijuana.

Oddly, the strongest criticism of the Canadian proposal has come from patients already using medical marijuana who think the government, which charges about $110 an ounce, supplies lousy pot. "It is of incredibly poor quality," said one patient. Another said, "It tastes like lumber." A spokesman for Health Canada promised the agency would try to offer a better grade of product.

Needless to say, this is a far cry from the situation in the United States, where marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance, a drug that the government says has a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical uses and no safe level of use.

Under federal law it is illegal to possess any amount of marijuana anywhere in the United States. Penalties for a first marijuana offense range from probation to life without parole. Although 11 states have decriminalized marijuana, most still have tough laws against the drug. In Louisiana, selling one ounce can lead to a 20-year prison sentence. In Washington State, supplying any amount of marijuana brings a recommended prison sentence of five years.

About 700,000 people were arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws in 2002 (the most recent year for which statistics are available) — more than were arrested for heroin or cocaine. Almost 90 percent of these marijuana arrests were for simple possession, a crime that in most cases is a misdemeanor. But even a misdemeanor conviction can easily lead to time in jail, the suspension of a driver's license, the loss of a job. And in many states possession of an ounce is a felony. Those convicted of a marijuana felony, even if they are disabled, can be prohibited from receiving federal welfare payments or food stamps. Convicted murderers and rapists, however, are still eligible for those benefits.

The Bush administration has escalated the war on marijuana, raiding clinics that offer medical marijuana and staging a nationwide roundup of manufacturers of drug paraphernalia. In November 2002 the Office of National Drug Control Policy circulated an "open letter to America's prosecutors" spelling out the administration's views. "Marijuana is addictive," the letter asserted. "Marijuana and violence are linked . . . no drug matches the threat posed by marijuana."

This tough new stand has generated little protest in Congress. Even though the war on marijuana was begun by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, it has always received strong bipartisan support. Some of the toughest drug war legislation has been backed by liberals, and the number of annual marijuana arrests more than doubled during the Clinton years. In fact, some of the strongest opposition to the arrest and imprisonment of marijuana users has come from conservatives like William F. Buckley, the economist Milton Friedman and Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico.

This year the White House's national antidrug media campaign will spend $170 million, working closely with the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The idea of a "drug-free America" may seem appealing. But it's hard to believe that anyone seriously hopes to achieve that goal in a nation where millions of children are routinely given Ritalin, antidepressants are prescribed to cure shyness, and the pharmaceutical industry aggressively promotes pills to help middle-aged men have sex.

Clearly, some recreational drugs are thought to be O.K. Thus it isn't surprising that the Partnership for a Drug-Free America originally received much of its financing from cigarette, alcohol and pharmaceutical companies like Hoffmann-La Roche, Philip Morris, R. J. Reynolds and Anheuser-Busch.

More than 16,000 Americans die every year after taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen. No one in Congress, however, has called for an all-out war on Advil. Perhaps the most dangerous drug widely consumed in the United States is the one that I use three or four times a week: alcohol. It is literally poisonous; you can die after drinking too much. It is directly linked to about one-quarter of the suicides in the United States, almost half the violent crime and two-thirds of domestic abuse. And the level of alcohol use among the young far exceeds the use of marijuana. According to the Justice Department, American children aged 11 to 13 are four times more likely to drink alcohol than to smoke pot.

None of this should play down the seriousness of marijuana use. It is a powerful, mind-altering drug. It should not be smoked by young people, schizophrenics, pregnant women and people with heart conditions. But it is remarkably nontoxic. In more than 5,000 years of recorded use, there is no verified case of anybody dying of an overdose. Indeed, no fatal dose has ever been established.

Over the past two decades billions of dollars have been spent fighting the war on marijuana, millions of Americans have been arrested and tens of thousands have been imprisoned. Has it been worth it? According to the government's National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, in 1982 about 54 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 had smoked marijuana. In 2002 the proportion was . . . about 54 percent.

We seem to pay no attention to what other governments are doing. Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium have decriminalized marijuana. This year Britain reduced the penalty for having small amounts. Legislation is pending in Canada to decriminalize possession of about half an ounce (the Bush administration is applying strong pressure on the Canadian government to block that bill). In Ohio, possession of up to three ounces has been decriminalized for years — and yet liberal marijuana laws have not transformed Ohio into a hippy-dippy paradise; conservative Republican governors have been running the state since 1991.

Here's an idea: people who smoke too much marijuana should be treated the same way as people who drink too much alcohol. They need help, not the threat of arrest, imprisonment and unemployment.

More important, denying a relatively safe, potentially useful medicine to patients is irrational and cruel. In 1972 a commission appointed by President Richard Nixon concluded that marijuana should be decriminalized in the United States. The commission's aim was not to encourage the use of marijuana, but to "demythologize it." Although Nixon rejected the commission's findings, they remain no less valid today: "For the vast majority of recreational users," the 2002 Canadian Senate committee found, "cannabis use presents no harmful consequences for physical, psychological or social well-being in either the short or long term."

The current war on marijuana is a monumental waste of money and a source of pointless misery. America's drug warriors, much like its marijuana smokers, seem under the spell of a powerful intoxicant. They are not thinking clearly.

Eric Schlosser is the author of "Fast Food Nation" and "Reefer Madness."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 13th, 2004, 10:24 AM
I smoke pot everyday since more than 15 years now and i'm still alive and kicking..........Somethimes i might be flying around and have some "mental absence" but we all have issues, right?

Smoking pot is a way to escape from your real life.

May 13th, 2004, 12:32 PM
By far the worst thing habitual pot smoking does is it makes you think everything's all right.

TLOZ Link5
May 13th, 2004, 08:25 PM
Reefer Madness notwithstanding, when's the last time that you heard of someone acting violently while on marijuana? Unless it were laced with something or if you have a hallucination (rare), most weed violence stems more from disputes over dealing turf (also rare) and the occasional burglary of a candy store when you get a severe case of the munchies.

I'm going to be a peer educator for NYU's Office of Drug and Alcohol Education next year. Seminars are fun.

May 14th, 2004, 01:05 AM
Refering to Christians article, I hate the fact that alchohol is legal while marijuana is illegal. Perhaps there should be a law switch, except I am sure far more people indulge in alcohol. Living on Maui i get a more, um... "hazy" view of reality. However I do think marijuana is legal in Hawaii for medicinal purposes, and in Alaska (Alaskans tell me if i am wrong) it is legal to possess something outrageous like four ounces. I read this in a local paper called Maui Weekly so it may not be accurate. Anyway, that is my opinion.

May 14th, 2004, 02:07 AM
Have you ever heard of anyone overdosing on marijuana, either? I'm pretty sure it's the only recreational drug that won't kill you if you take to much -- cocaine, alchohol, pain-killers, uppers, downers, nicotine, and caffeine are all quite deadly in massive doses.

The danger comes from the fat that it's smoked. If it were legal and thus much cheaper, people would probably use safer, healther methods of enjoyment.

May 14th, 2004, 05:20 AM
How hard is it to fing pot in NY? What if you get caught by the cops?

May 14th, 2004, 10:46 AM
It's not hard to get at all if you know where to look or who to ask. It is widely used without repercussion, and mostly (if not wisely) with discretion. What the police do if you get caught varies, depending on the cop, the user, the amount, the location, and whether it is ignited or not. I've heard everything from being taken downtown to them not doing anything, so there is a risk.

May 14th, 2004, 04:13 PM
At my age, the police just scold me. :?

I've managed to keep the kids drug-free until they were on their own.
Since they don't hate my guts, I think it's my life's greatest accomplishment.

TLOZ Link5
May 14th, 2004, 06:26 PM
How hard is it to fing pot in NY? What if you get caught by the cops?

All I'll tell you is, do NOT get any in Washington Square Park. I haven't had any from there, but friends tell me that it's abysmal.

May 17th, 2004, 09:49 AM
i remember the first time i went to central parc, i was 11 if i remember well, after only a few secs there was a guy, siting on a rock, asking me if i wanted to snif, take pils, smoke...man, i was a kid!

If i see him again.....

August 28th, 2006, 06:44 AM
August 28, 2006

California Seeks to Clear Hemp of a Bad Name


STRATFORD, Calif. — Charles Meyer’s politics are as steady and unswerving as the rows of pima cotton on his Central Valley farm. With his work-shirt blue eyes and flinty Clint Eastwood demeanor, he is staunchly in favor of the war in Iraq, against gun control and believes people unwilling to recite the Pledge of Allegiance should be kicked out of America, and fast.

But what gets him excited is the crop he sees as a potential windfall for California farmers: industrial hemp, or Cannabis sativa. The rapidly growing plant with a seemingly infinite variety of uses is against federal law to grow because of its association with its evil twin, marijuana.

“Industrial hemp is a wholesome product,” said Mr. Meyer, 65, who says he has never worn tie-dye and professes a deep disdain for “dope.”

“The fact we’re not growing it is asinine,” Mr. Meyer said.

Things could change if a measure passed by legislators in Sacramento and now on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk becomes law. [The bill reached Mr. Schwarzenegger last week; he has 30 days to sign or veto it.]

Seven states have passed bills supporting the farming of industrial hemp; their strategy has been to try to get permission from the Drug Enforcement Administration to proceed.

But California is the first state that would directly challenge the federal ban, arguing that it does not need a D.E.A. permit, echoing the state’s longstanding fight with the federal authorities over its legalization of medicinal marijuana. The hemp bill would require farmers who grow it to undergo crop testing to ensure their variety of cannabis is nonhallucinogenic; its authors say it has been carefully worded to avoid conflicting with the federal Controlled Substances Act.

But those efforts have not satisfied federal and state drug enforcement authorities, who argue that fields of industrial hemp would only serve as hiding places for illicit cannabis. The California Narcotic Officers Association opposes the bill, and a spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington said the measure was unworkable.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican running for re-election, has been mum on his intentions, with the political calculus of hemp in California difficult to decipher. The bill was the handiwork of two very different lawmakers, Assemblyman Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat best known for attempting to legalize same-sex marriage, and Assemblyman Charles S. DeVore, an Orange County Republican who worked in the Pentagon as a Reagan-era political appointee.

Their bipartisan communion underscores a deeper shift in hemp culture that has evolved in recent years, from ragtag hempsters whose love of plants with seven leaves ran mostly to marijuana, to today’s savvy coalition of organic farmers and health-food entrepreneurs working to distance themselves from the drug.

Hundreds of hemp products, including energy bars and cold-pressed hemp oil, are made in California, giving the banned plant a capitalist aura. But manufacturers must import the raw material, mostly from Canada, where hemp cultivation was legalized in 1998.

The new hemp entrepreneurs regard it as a sustainable crop, said John Roulac, 47, a former campaigner against clear-cutting and a backyard composter before founding Nutiva, a growing California hemp-foods company. “They want to lump together all things cannabis,” said David Bronner, 33, whose family’s squeeze-bottle Dr. Bronners Magic Soaps, based in Escondido, Calif., are made with hemp oil. “You don’t associate a poppy seed bagel with opium.”

The differences between hemp and its mind-altering cousin, however, can be horticulturally challenging to grasp. The main one is that the epidermal glands of marijuana secrete a resin of euphoria-inducing delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or T.H.C., a substance all but lacking in industrial hemp.

Ernest Small, a Canadian researcher who co-wrote a major hemp study in 2002 for Purdue University, compared the genetic differences to those that separate racehorses from plow horses. Evolution, Mr. Small said, has almost completely bred T.H.C. out of industrial hemp, which by law must have a concentration of no more than three-tenths of 1 percent.

To its supporters, industrial hemp is utopia in a crop. Prized not only for its healthful seeds and oils, rich in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, but also its fast, bamboo-like growth that shades out weeds, without pesticides.

“Simply put, you create a jungle in one year,” said John LaBoyteaux, who testified in Sacramento on behalf of the California Certified Organic Farmers association. “There’s a growing market out there, and we can’t tap it.”

The bill before Governor Schwarzenegger is the latest installment in a hemp debate that reached its height in 2004, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said that federal antidrug laws did not apply to the manufacturing or consumption of industrial hemp. The court ruled that decades earlier, Congress had exempted from marijuana-control laws the stalks, fibers, oils and seeds of industrial hemp, and that the government had no right to ban hemp products.

That opened the floodgates for Patagonia hemp jeans and the Merry Hempsters Zit Zapper (with hemp oil).

Patrick D. Goggin, a lawyer for the Hemp Industries Association and Vote Hemp, said there would probably be legal snarls to work out with the California legislation, assuming it is enacted, so that farmers would not be placing their property in jeopardy if they chose to grow industrial hemp. But if the federal government clamps down, Mr. Goggin said, “we’re prepared to raise the issue in court.”

“Were trying to get an arcane vision of the law contemporized,” he added.

Rogene Waite, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the agency would not speculate about pending legislation.

The bill’s adherents point to hemp’s hallowed niche in American history. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson cultivated hemp (neither effort was profitable). Colonists’ boats sailed the Atlantic with hempen sails. Old Ironsides carried 60 tons of hempen sail and rope. The word “canvas,” in fact, is derived from cannabis, a high-tensile fiber naturally resistant to decay.

Hemp flourished as an American crop from the end of the Civil War until the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act ended production. During World War II, when Japan seized the Philippines and cut off supplies of Manila hemp, the crop got a brief reprieve in the United States, where farmers were encouraged to grow “Hemp for Victory,” for boots, parachute cording and the like. But contrary to lore, most such hemp was never harvested.

Today, China controls about 40 percent of the world’s hemp fiber, and its ability to flood the market “could result in price fluctuations the American farmer would have to weather,” said Valerie Vantreese, an agricultural economist in Lexington, Ky. (Kentucky was once the leading hemp-producing state).

Hemp is grown legally in about 30 countries, including many in the European Union, where it is mixed with lime to make plaster and as a “biocomposite” in the interior panels of Mercedes-Benzes.

In the United States, the chief argument against hemp has been made by drug-control officials, who are concerned that vast acreages could be used to conceal clandestine marijuana, which they say would be impossible to detect.

“California is a great climate to grow pot in, and no one from law enforcement is going through the fields to do a chemical analysis of different plants,” said Thomas A. Riley, a spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington.

To some people intimate with the nuances of marijuana, however, the idea of hiding marijuana in a hemp field, where the plants would cross-pollinate, provokes amusement.

“It would be the end of outdoors marijuana,” said Jack Heber, 67, a marijuana historian and author who runs a group called Help End Marijuana Prohibition, or HEMP. “If it gets mixed with that crop, it’s a disaster.”

In North Dakota, the state agricultural commissioner, Roger Johnson, has proposed allowing hemp farming, and has been working with federal drug regulators on stringent regulations that would include fingerprinting farmers and requiring G.P.S. coordinates of hemp fields.

“We’ve done our level best to convince them we’re not a bunch of wackos,” Mr. Johnson said.

Fifteen years ago, he noted, there was little market for canola, which is now a major crop produced for its cooking oil. He sees hemp in a similar vein and dismisses the fears that it would lead to criminality.

“It would take a joint the size of a telephone pole to have an impact,” he said.

But up north in Garberville, the Central Valley of marijuana, the lines between hemp and marijuana are often a hazy blur, as they are at a store called the Hemp Connection, where hemp hats and yoga clothing are sold alongside manuals on pot botany and Stoneware baking pans (“makes six groovy brownies per pan”).

The proprietor, Marie Mills, who said she once crafted paper from marijuana stalks, remains committed to cannabis in all its guises.

“We want to educate people and take away the stigma,” Ms. Mills said. “We want hemp without harassment.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

August 28th, 2006, 09:28 AM
After graduating from high school oh-so-many-years-ago some friends and I drove cross country: driving along a back road in Nebraska we spotted a huge and familiar plant growing by a roadside fence. We immediately stopped the car and did some harvesting. We figured anything to kill the bordeom of the Central Plains ...

Well that sh!t sucked!

Turns out it was some wayward industrial hemp -- and nothing like what we could get in the 4-finger dime bags back in the Bay Area.

Live and learn :cool:

July 23rd, 2007, 01:49 PM
Read more about the Noth Dakota situation here: http://www.votehemp.com/legal_cases_ND.html

If you have some time I recommend listening to the teleconference recording at the above link.

To support the growing of industrial hemp contact your legislators and urge them to support H.R. 1009 Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007 full bill text here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.1009::

June 30th, 2009, 12:45 PM
Oregon legalizes hemp cultivation

Published: June 30, 2009 (http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/06/30/oregon-legalizes-growing-industrial-hemp/)

Oregon’s House of Representatives voted Monday night to legalize the cultivation of hemp, becoming the sixth state to do so just this year.

Oregon’s Senate voted 27 to 2 in favor of the new law last week. Monday’s 46 to 11 House vote means that the measure will become law, barring an unlikely veto by Governor Ted Kulongoski.

The move is part of a rapidly growing nationwide trend to liberalize laws relating to marijuana. Hemp is a botanical cousin of marijuana, traditionally used to make clothing, rope and other durable fiber goods.

“Hemp is a versatile, environmentally-friendly crop that has not been grown in the U.S. for over fifty years because of a misguided and politicized interpretation of the nation’s drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration,” Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra said in a statement (http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/06-29-2009/0005052347&EDATE=).

“While a new bill in Congress, HR 1866, is a welcome step, the hemp industry is hopeful that President Obama’s administration will recognize hemp’s myriad benefits to farmers, businesses and the environment.”

According to Vote Hemp, this year Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Vermont and ”all passed resolutions or memorials urging Congress to allow states to regulate hemp farming.”

California is at the forefront of the marijuana debate, with a movement growing to decriminalize marijuana for personal use (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/6/12/741434/-California-to-Legalize-Cannabis-in-2010) in the state by 2010.

But in Oregon’s debate, politicians were careful to distinguish between hemp and weed, and to highlight the fact that the new law would allow farmers to cultivate hemp, not grow marijuana.

Some members of Oregon’s legislature displayed t-shirts reading “Senate Bill 676 is about rope, not dope (http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2009/06/house_oks_industrial_hemp.html).”


September 23rd, 2009, 09:12 AM
Timeline of Cannabis in America (http://twitpic.com/irrif/full)

September 23rd, 2009, 04:44 PM
No Reefer Madness?

September 23rd, 2009, 05:14 PM
Dwain Esper (http://web.archive.org/web/20060328163318/http://www.reefer-madness-movie.com/history.html) was just capitalizing on the public mood.

December 29th, 2009, 07:46 PM
Hemp: North Dakota Farmers Lose Appeal in 8th US Circuit

The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis last Tuesday upheld a lower court's decision to dismiss a lawsuit by a pair of North Dakota hemp farmers who argued they should be able to grow hemp crops without fear of federal prosecution.

Farmers Wayne Hauge and David Monson, who is also a Republican state representative, were awarded licenses from the state department of agriculture to grow hemp three years ago. They sought approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and after the DEA failed to respond, they filed suit in US District Court in Bismarck. There, US District Judge Daniel Hovland dismissed their suit.

The DEA considers hemp to be marijuana. It took a successful federal court challenge to force the DEA to continue to allow for hemp food products to be imported, but American farmers are still forced to stand on the sidelines and watch as their Canadian, Chinese, and European counterparts fill their wallets with profit from hemp sales.

"I guess the next step is we'll have to take it to Congress," Hauge told the Associated Press. "The fastest and easiest way to handle this would be for the president to order the Department of Justice to stand down on all actions against industrial hemp," he added, alluding wistfully to the department's announced policy shift on medical marijuana.

But Congress has other things on its plate, Monson told the AP. "With all the other things, hemp is not high on their priority list, and I can understand that," Monson said. "Somehow, we need to get enough states involved so Congress can take action on it," Monson said.

Adam Eidinger, a spokesman for the industry association VoteHemp, said he was disappointed, but not surprised, by the decision."The 8th Circuit is kind of conservative, so I can't say I'm totally surprised," he said.

No word yet on whether VoteHemp and the farmers will pursue the case any further.

December 30th, 2009, 01:04 AM
"The 8th Circuit is kind of conservative, so I can't say I'm totally surprised,"

So, conservative=retarded in this case.
Because only an imbecile would have a problem with industrial hemp.

January 3rd, 2010, 12:12 AM
Who is funding the resistance.

This is not stupidity here. This smells of cash.

January 3rd, 2010, 02:00 AM
You might look into these guys (http://www.thomasnet.com/products/nylon-rope-69221604-1.html)

January 3rd, 2010, 02:55 PM
I hope we can give them enough to........ weave something nice with.....:rolleyes: