When I bring up the topic of Hemp I usually will get two reactions. The first is from someone who has smoked pot or currently smokes pot. They usually smile and say something like, “Yeah man! It’s great!”. They will mention that clothes can be made out of hemp and also those scratchy little bracelets that you can get at Phish or past Grateful Dead shows.
The second type of people are those who may have smoked marijuana a few times but most likely not at all and certainly do not currently. They say something about it being for again clothes or bracelets and they mention something about smoking it. The extent of the conversation is often short because they think I’m just a pot-smoking hippy. (If the shoe fits.)
Well I wont get into my smoking history or practices, however what I will tell you is I used to be one of those people. I had had my share of tokes and Phish show (Sorry Grateful Dead I was just never into you. R.I.P – G.G) and I even bought a hemp bracelet or two and life was grand and Hemp was Hippyfied.
Then one day I got curious. I was working as an Assistant Producer for a company based in Virginia. One of our clients was the Discovery Channel and we produced science shows and some minor documentaries for them. One of my jobs was writing up show proposals. I was researching a show on organic farming and I came across an article of Industrial Hemp. By the time I was finished reading the article I was so excited I jotted down that we could do an entire show on Industrial Hemp and I planned to research it some more. The article I had read was from a 1937 edition of Popular Mechanics and the Article was called “The New Billion Dollar Crop”.
I was so excited about this plant that I decided to research it for the rest of the day. I couldn’t wait to learn what we were doing with it. I mean if it was a billion dollar crop in 1937 it must be 100’s of billions now.
I searched for Hemp on the Internet and my enthusiasm soon turned to confusion and then dismay and frustration and finally almost despair. That lasted a few minutes and then I just got pissed off.
You see Industrial Hemp is currently illegal to grow in the United States. Why? That is a two-sided question. There is: why did it become illegal and why is it still illegal?
Technically Hemp is illegal to grow in the United States because it contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinal). This is the active ingredient in Marijuana. But where marijuana contain anywhere between 5-20% THC Hemp contains roughly .3%. I’ll put it to you this way. There is more arsenic in a glass of wine and more opium in a poppy seed bagel than THC in hemp. But because the DEA says THC is a schedule 1 drug anything that contains THC is considered illegal.
Our neighbors to the north, Canada have allowed their farmers to grow Industrial Hemp. The farmers must follow regulations that says their crops must have .3% THC or less in any given crop. That seems perfectly rationale to me. However year after year there are Bill proposals to congress that get batted away and declined. Those opposed to the Legalization of Hemp say that it is really just a red Herring for another plan to make Marijuana Legal. But time and time again legitimate farmers who own 1000’s of acres of good soiled land ask to legalization and re turned down.
So given that there is a clear and present confusion on whether Hemp should be legal(and just what hemp is to be exact and why you should care) I would like to begin my argument for its legality by giving a brief explanation of how it initially became illegal followed by a little venture into a world that allows hemp to be grown as a major industrial crop. And of course – WHY YOU SHOULD CARE. 😉
Here is a little video outlining why this is an awesome plant –
Why I care about Hemp and other musings about why you should too – Part 1