Deadly Crop

Thomas Jefferson: statesman, philosopher, drug kingpin.

As anyone who follows the hemp movement knows, our third president grew cannabis on his Virginia farm. Lots of it. According to Marijuana News, published by an Ohio chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, in some seasons Jefferson raised more than 100 acres of hemp, which was used to make sailcoth and rigging. With a typical yield of 150 plants per square yard, multiplied by 4,840 square yards per acre, that's more than 70 million plants a year.

Under the 1995 Omnibus Crime Control Act, anyone who cultivates more than 60,000 marijuana plants is a "drug kingpin," subject to execution. In a single year, then, the author of the Declaration of Independence qualified for the death penalty a thousand times over. Noting that the Democratic Party's platform praises the drug kingpin provision, Marijuana News concludes, "If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, William Jefferson Clinton would execute him."

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