Three startling facts that have little to do with you: The Roman Empire went to war on hemp, and I don’t mean they were high, but it could be they smoked the closely-related plant as well; hemp is among the oldest cultivated plants known to man; hemp was farmed in this region as recently as the 1940s.
Three startling facts that have everything to do with you: As a fiber hemp is easier to grow and has more varied uses than any other existing fiber; hemp could easily and cost-effectively replace trees as the world’s renewable source for paper production; hemp seeds are as nutritious and variable as soybeans and require a fraction of the pesticides and herbicides.
The outlawing of this highly useful plant is now well-known to have been a combination of government coercion and misinformation, sold after-the-fact to the public by that good old-fashioned stand-by: propaganda.
But this is not a “hippie plant” any more than cotton is. We are doing an incredible disservice to its diversity by tangling it up so closely with the drug version of Cannabis. “Hemp-fests” and “hemp exhibitions” are rarely more than barely-masked covers for the legalization, growing, and usage of Ganja. These are two completely different issues that we are succeeding in creating more confusion and alienating potential support from farmers, politicians, and older folks who wish to disassociate themselves from the drug.
The first home to be built of hemp in the United States is now under construction in Tennessee. Like medical marijuana, many states are in the process of passing their own legislation in order to grow hemp industrially. Congressman Ron Paul is among the most prominent and vocal advocates, going as far as to propose that the plant could become the next “Gold Standard.”
While I agree wholeheartedly that the plant must again be made legal, Paul unfortunately is not going far enough. By clarifying “industrial” hemp in his legislation he is not proposing that you and I could grow hemp for food, fabric, or any other of its legitimate proven uses, but rather it could be grown by industry. The individual, small-scale farmer, or self-sufficiency-crazed folks like myself would need a special license. So, while he is taking a long-needed step in the right direction, he is completely ignoring the real hemp hypocrisy: it is a PLANT! It is a harmless, incredibly useful, non-toxic, non-mind-altering PLANT. Just as I am “allowed” to grow soybeans, or tomatoes, or cotton, so should I be able to choose to grow hemp. DUH!