Cannabis Hemp Essay, Research Paper
Why is it that the one plant that could save our planet from certain environmental destruction is illegal in our country? The Cannabis plant is grown legally for hemp in many countries around the world and yet the government of this country continues to view it as a dangerous plant. The prohibition of the Cannabis plant in this country is one of the greatest injustices in our history. Cannabis has been used by humans for its fibers, oils, and medical qualities for more than 10,000 years. It seems as though Cannabis was created with the basic needs of humans in mind. It can provide us with clothing, building materials, fuel, oils, food, and many other products that are currently synthetically made. Our world economy could be based on this one plant instead of harmful petroleum. Humans who are concerned about their environment should fight for the legalization of the cannabis plant. It is the only renewable resource that can meet our consumption needs for paper, food, and fiber. Not only can hemp meet our needs, it can often produce a higher quality product than what is currently produced.
For thousands of years cultures across the globe have recognized and utilized the amazing qualities of the Cannabis plant. Our government refuses to recognize that hemp has beneficial uses and in doing so directly lies to its citizens. The history of humans and
the use of hemp products go back as far as the last ice age. Ten thousand years ago in Turkey hemp was used widely to make ropes, cloth, and fishing nets. The ancient Chinese were also users of hemp. They made their first paper with hemp and also ropes, clothing, and medicines. References to the medicinal properties of marijuana were found in a Chinese emperor’s pharmacopeia. Hemp was also the dominant fiber used in the ship building industry until the late 1800s. It was used for ropes, rigging, and sails because of its strength and durability.
Our country also has a history with the Cannabis plant. In colonial times hemp played such a large role in America’s maritime industry that in some colonies farmers had to grow hemp. Hemp played a role in our country’s fight for independence. The first drafts of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper and the sails and rigging for our naval ships, like the U.S.S. Constitution, were made of hemp. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew hemp on their plantations and advocated its use. As our country expanded from the east to west hemp was there. The wagons of the pioneers were covered in hemp canvas and Levi Straus made the first pair of Levis out of the same material. The heavy hemp canvas and Straus’s riveting system made the jeans the work wear of choice for the gold miners in California. Other famous American businessmen have been advocates of hemp. Henry Ford built a car that had a body made entirely of hemp fiber and it ran on hemp fuel.
The darkest chapter in our country’s long history with the Cannabis plant came in the late 1930’s. Before this time both marijuana and hemp had been completely legal in the U.S., but in 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act and other laws made it illegal to posses marijuana or hemp. This completely destroyed the emerging U.S. hemp industry, right at a time when advancements in the processing and harvesting of hemp would make it a major competitor of the fiber, pulp, and synthetics industries. Some feel that the prohibition of hemp was a deliberate act funded by companies like Dupont and by individuals such as William Randolph Hearst. Both had business interests that could be hurt by a growing hemp industry. They knew that a prohibition of marijuana would also outlaw hemp and thus destroy a possible competitor. During World War Two hemp again played a role in our nation’s history. During the war the prohibition against hemp was repealed because of the need of hemp for the war effort. A film called Hemp for Victory was produced that extolled the virtues of hemp, urging farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. When the war ended hemp was once again made illegal in the U.S.
The tie between industrial hemp and the drug marijuana is not very strong. Banning hemp because of its relation to marijuana would be like banning wheat because it can be made into alcohol. Industrial hemp contains a negligible amount of THC, the main intoxicant found in marijuana, and some strains produced today are drug free. The benefits that would come from a hemp industry would by far outweigh the “negative” effects of legalizing a plant that is a distant cousin to marijuana. They are not the same thing! If the people of this world knew the truth of the hemp plant, not the lies our
government spreads, our world could be a much better place. Instead, we choose to follow the doctrine set up by our politicians that does nothing but pollute our world, play into the hands of the corporations, create a dangerous black market for drugs, and ultimately mar the American dream.
The possibilities for uses of the Cannabis plant are nearly endless. About 50,000 uses for this plant have already been identified and more are being developed. One of the most eco-friendly products that can be made of hemp is paper. Hemp paper can be made from hemp alone or a hemp/recycled product blend. Hemp can be made into many types of paper products and these papers are shown to be stronger and longer lasting than tree-based paper. Hemp paper is also healthier for nature because it doesn’t have to be treated with toxic chemicals like tree-based paper. Paper mills are notorious polluters who usually dump their toxic wastes into the nearest river. Hemp could easily meet our consumption demands eliminating the need to cut down trees for paper. Hemp fiber based construction materials, which can be molded into almost any form and are stronger than wood, could further reduce the need to cut down our dwindling forests. Always remember that one acre of hemp can produce four times the amount of fiber as one acre of forest, and hemp is annually renewable!
Not only can hemp be made into products that we currently make from trees, it can also be used to make a variety of high quality fabrics. Cultures in the far East and central Asia have made cloth from hemp for centuries. There is no limit to what types of
material can be made from it. From canvas to silk-like cloths, the hemp plant knows no limits. In tests of durability and strength hemp does exceptionally better than cotton. Hemp is a stronger choice than cotton in more ways than one. Cotton accounts for 50% of all the pesticides and herbicides used in the world each year and it robs the soil of nutrients. Hemp needs no pesticides or herbicides, and when grown in a rotation it actually helps replenish the soil. Once again the eco-friendly choice is hemp.
The Cannabis plant also shows promise in the fields of human, livestock, and pet nutrition. The seed of the plant is rich in essential fatty acids and whole proteins that are in ideal proportion to our nutritional needs. These seeds can be processed into almost any type of food, from ice cream to bread. Farmers and pet owners alike would benefit from the low cost and high nutritional value of hemp seed-based feeds. Also, because it is easily grown in many climates, hemp could be the ideal food source for developing nations struggling with famine and poverty. Certain cultures in Nepal who cannot grow rice because of the high altitude at which they live use Ganja(as they call the Cannabis plant) seeds as their major food source.
Our world economy is currently based on petroleum. This doesn’t make sense. We choose to use hazardous fossil fuels that pollute our environment when we could make many of the same petroleum-based products from eco-friendly hemp. The cellulose in hemp can be used to make clean burning fuels such as ethanol. The oil in the seeds can be used to make a variety of products like diesel fuel, lubricating oil, plastics, and
many other current petrochemical-based products. Utilizing hemp and other sources of bio-fuels such as corn and kenaf could drastically cut air pollution. Using sulfur free charcoal made from hemp instead of burning coal for power would cut down acid rain. It is believed that 80% of air-born pollutants come from the fossil fuel industries and from petroleum burned in our automobiles. Not only are fossil fuels serious pollutants they are a rapidly dwindling resource. Scientists believe there are only 50 years of petroleum and 200 years of coal left. Why not make the switch to hemp-based biomass fuels and products now for a cleaner future?
A cleaner environment would not be the only benefit of a world wide legalization and propagation of the hemp industry. Our nation’s economy could be helped tremendously. A flourishing hemp industry could provide many new jobs while still giving former employees of outdated industries like fossil fuel and cotton a better, cleaner job to fall back on. Hemp has been studied experimentally by many states as a possible farm crop. Some farmers believe that hemp could be the answer to the problems facing many independent farmers today. Hemp is easy to grow in all of the states, drought resistant, pest and weed resistant, helps to revitalize soil, produces large yields, and with a hemp-based economy there would be a large demand for raw hemp, giving farmers a new cash crop.
Why should we hurt our land by using cotton and petroleum products, and why should we line the pockets of the oil barons and the sheiks who sell us petroleum
products? The money could stay right here in America revitalizing our economy and the family farmers. Our government would also benefit by the large amounts of revenue created by the taxation and tariffs that would come from the business created by a hemp industry. Many countries such as France, Britain, Canada, Russia, Holland, and China have legalized industrial hemp. America could reach its longstanding dream of being an independent nation by the legalization of a harmless plant.
Our government has no right to stop an interaction between humans and Cannabis that has gone on for thousands of years. Especially when legalizing hemp would not mean legalizing the “dangerous” drug marijuana. Hemp is not pleasant when smoked and does not even produce a psychoactive effect, but our government still is not willing to make the differentiation between hemp and marijuana. In their attempt to eradicate a “harmful” drug they have done more harm to our planet and its peoples than could ever by caused by smoking pot. Get up and fight this injustice perpetrated on the people of the Earth by the American government. The Cannabis plant could salvage a world ravaged by uncaring corporations and leaders. Yet, we refuse to open our eyes to the truth of the situation, or could it be that we are being blinded by our own “democratic” system? Either way, we need to make the change to hemp now if we hope to save our beautiful but tiny home in this vast Universe.