Who's Afraid of Hemp?

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This week's NORML newsletter cites a new report from the Congressional Research Service that finds "the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop." While hemp, a variety of cannabis with negligible THC, is profitably grown for fiber and other nonpsychoactive uses in "more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia, and North America," the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration won't even allow experimental cultivation, saying it would "send the wrong message to the American public concerning the government's position on drugs."

In this country hemp enthusiasts are widely assumed to be potheads eager to legitimize cannabis. Some of them are, but many others are farmers and entrepreneurs who see an economic opportunity unreasonably foreclosed by the government. It's the DEA's position on hemp cultivation that (like its ridiculous, failed attempt to ban hemp foods) most clearly reflects the symbolic power of cannabis, since that's the only explanation for banning a crop that's legal in so many countries where marijuana is still prohibited.

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  1. The trouble with cannabis is that it makes people irrational.

    Every time cops and politicians talk about it you can count on someone going totally crazy.

  2. JS:

    Keep in mind the fact that potheads have absolutely no control over their addiction. If hemp became a legal crop, these dope fiends will be smoking bales of it in some futile attempt to get high.

    While we’re on the subject, they should burn the Constitution because it’s printed on hemp paper. It sends the wrong message to our kids. The “rights” described are outdated, anyway.. relics of our colonial past.

  3. What is the “wrong message” that growing hemp for fabric and paper goods? That the things we forbid for one use have other uses?

  4. What gets me is how much support they enjoy. It’s like the drug warriors decided “we’d never get away with this, so well go even further and then ‘settle’ for half a loaf” but then the rest of us could only muster enough outrage to take back a slice (if that). I used to think it was the pot that made me paranoid, then I realized it was my government.

    It’s so fucking depressing. I need a joint.

  5. It really is a blow to liberty when something harmless– and from what I’m told quite useful– like non-THC hemp is banned simply so that one unlikely ‘message’ won’t be sent.

    What else should be banned? Parking lots at bars? Guns? Oops, that one’s tougher. (Naughty blem! Naughty, naughty blem!) I kid, I kid.

  6. What’s interesting is that agricultural hemp cultivation can actually have a negative effect on the quality of marijuana grown in the united states for drug consumption. The lower-THC agricultural products can cross-polinate with high-test Marijuana plants, making people’s dope weaker.

    So be careful what you wish for, duders …

  7. What else should be banned?

    Well I’m sure anyone actually writing something that critiques the WOD ‘sends the wrong message’. Wouldn’t surprise me if any day now…

    Hang on, there’s someone at the door…

  8. The lower-THC agricultural products can cross-polinate with high-test Marijuana plants, making people’s dope weaker.

    It works both ways. The ditch weed will become more potent after I leave a male indica in the neighbor’s hemp field.

  9. Was it this ridiculous (the government enforcement) before alcohol prohibition ended, or was it a slow, gradual, “We-just-don’t-care-anymore” kind of thing?

  10. Yeah, but not significantly. The best you could hope for would be that the ditch weed would become marginally less potent than the worse bag of headache weed you ever bought. Yipee.

  11. “It works both ways. The ditch weed will become more potent after I leave a male indica in the neighbor’s hemp field.”

    Probably not Twba… the disparity in quantity between agricultural hemp plants and illicit marijuana plants is such that it is highly unlikely that illicit marijuana would have much of an effect on the potency of commercial hemp. But the reverse is certainly possible.

    We’re talking about a 10 million-to-one hemp-to-kind bud ration here!!!

  12. Disclosure: That 10 million-to-one hemp to kindbud ratio … I just completely made that up.

  13. You guys are harshing my mellow, man..

  14. We know way too much about reefer.

  15. Hemp will be legal in the USA when Monsanto patents a Roundup Ready SuperSativa.

  16. You wanna divide and conquor? Float the idea of GM weed at a Green Party convention.

  17. Joe, you have a little libertarian in you after all.

  18. If ditchweed could significantly impact the quality of high-test, it isn?t unreasonable to suggest that the reverse is true. However, I think it is more likely that the offspring of either matrimony would be a mix of good, bad, and otherwise. From my experience high-test would be bad hemp. Squat bushy plants with most of the growth put into the fruit and not so much into the stem and structure. I imagine each new crop of hemp would be planted from fresh store-bought seed anyway. Also, how is the ditchweed pollen going to get into my hermetically sealed closet?

  19. Don’t worry about pollen. Use the closet clone method to produce perfect weed… uh, that’s what I heard from a friend of a friend. Wink Wink Nudge Nudge

  20. joe–

    I have already floated your idea (GM weed) to our biotech faculty. I think we could completely wean ourselves from state funding with this strategy, and build a very healthy endowment on top of it.

    They think I’m kidding, of course.

  21. Unless someone genetically engineers the Cannabidiol out of hemp, it’s going to be impossible to get high from it, or cross-pollinate with it.

  22. Why doesn’t one of these super-botanists potheads figure out how to make cotton plants produce THC then give the seeds to the whole third world as a gift? Then we could smoke our imported shirts.

  23. So…. can anyone set me up or what?

    (BLEM! Naughty.)

  24. While we’re on the subject, they should burn the Constitution because it’s printed on hemp paper. It sends the wrong message to our kids. The “rights” described are outdated, anyway.. relics of our colonial past.

    An exageration, but in some ways, yes, they didn’t have a drug war that needed to be fought.

    J

  25. Then cotton would be outlawed to avoid sending the wrong message.

  26. Juanita, my feeble attempts at humor pale in comparison to your expertise.

  27. Then cotton would be outlawed to avoid sending the wrong message.

    Hah?

    Cotton is not dangerous, the government has an obligation to protect us from dangerous drugs. If something isn’t good for us, the government has a right to ban it.

    Legalizing hemp would send the message that drug addiction is OK. We don’t want to live in a society where anyone could be high at any time, including drivers, pilots, surgeons, etc.

  28. Get the facts

    ? Heavy marijuana use impairs the ability of young people to concentrate and retain
    information forever. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main
    active chemical in marijuana, changes the way sensory information gets into and is
    processed by the part of the brain that is crucial for learning and memory.

    ? Animal studies indicate that marijuana use alters brain function and creates
    problems with the perception of time, making the user less adept at tasks that
    require sustained attention.

    ? Marijuana use causes poor performance in school. One report
    showed that youths who tried marijuana had an average grade of D or below.

    ? Marijuana users are more gauranteed to have an increased risk of
    delinquency and more friends who exhibit deviant behavior.

    ? They also tend to have an average of 134 sexual partners and they all engage in unsafe sex.

    ? All marijuana users graduate to dangerous adictive narcotics like cocaine, heroin and LSD.

  29. Juanita, I am blinded by your brilliance.

  30. juanita – you are not a troll. you are a work of art.

  31. NOOOOOOOOO…

    now i have to take back the troll bit. dammit!!!!!!

    i wanted to believe in your sincerity, very sincerely. and now i cannot.

    I WEEP.

  32. A step in the right direction.

    Senator Orin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 28 Senate co-sponsors have introduced Bill S. 3 that mandates that a person convicted of bringing into the United States “100 usual dosage amounts” of several illicit substances?including two ounces of marijuana?be sentenced to life without parole for a first offense and death for a second offense. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and 37 House co-sponsors have introduced Bill H. R. 41 with the identical provision. On May 8, 1997, Speaker Gingrich said: “If you sell it, we’re going to kill you.”

    In Mississippi, a bill dubbed “Smoke a Joint, Lose a Limb” would punish marijuana smokers by amputating an arm or a leg. The legislation, submitted in January by Republican State Representative Bobby Moak, provides that the convicted person and the court “must agree on which body part shall be removed.”

    In Kansas, a coalition of 38 Republican state legislators wants to impose life terms without parole for people convicted of growing marijuana plants — even though first-degree murderers can be paroled after 25 years.

    Congressman John Linder (R-GA), Chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, has proposed that drug users be quarantined at abandoned military bases so they don’t “infect” others.

  33. Juanita, put your talent to use for mankind. Become a television writer. Your stuff is good.

  34. Juanita, put your talent to use for mankind. Become a television writer. Your stuff is good.

    Thanks, satire really can make a point.

  35. It was funny, but now you’re scaring me.

  36. Juanita-

    I smoked marijuana all through high school and college. I took LSD, ate mushroom, smoked cocaine and methamphetamine. Now I?m a PhD candidate engaged in fundamental research for the Army, DOD, and DOE. As part of my security clearance to access sensitive DOD resources they asked me what drugs I had done and then asked, pretty please, that I would not do them anymore. It seems they can no longer get well-qualified well-educated folks to work for them if they have a ?no drugs ever? policy. Smart inquisitive folks are curious about everything, including drugs. And then we have folks like you; increasingly irrelevant, thank god.

  37. Ouch, dollar short…

  38. I managed to lower my cholesterol by using hemp oil on my salad instead of olive oil so I have continued using it for just about everything else. I am actually looking forward to my next physical to see how much more it lowered. Everything else in my lifestyle has remained the same so I am pretty sure that the oil is a factor.

  39. I want to believe that the article posted by PintOfStout is parody. I desperately want to believe this. I am pained by the thought that someone out there actually holds the opinion that the price of drugs is a fixed constant, regardless of supply and criminal status.

    This is me putting my fingers in my ears and going lalalalala because I need to pretend that people published in major newspapers are not, in fact, pinhead mouthbreathing morons.

  40. isildur

    From that article:

    “Dateline D.C. is written by a Washington-based British journalist and political observer.” (emphasis added)

    It has occurred to me that if there is anything that sounds worse than “one of our own” spouting our government’s line it is when a foreigner does it. Somehow when a Brit or a frenchman or a german starts spouting the drug war line it ends up sounding like a parody. Listen to the BBC World Service sometime.

    On the other hand an american spouting this nonsense usually sounds perfectly normal. We somehow expect it.

    I am pained by the thought that someone out there actually holds the opinion that the price of drugs is a fixed constant, regardless of supply and criminal status.

    Of course the drug war is just another area where the almost universal economic illiteracy of our society is applied.

  41. Of course the drug war is just another area where the almost universal economic illiteracy of our society is applied.

    And pharmacalogic illiteracy.

    Alcohol, the one and only legal potent intoxicant, is the only drug that is ascociated with physiologically induced violence. Also, it is perhaps the most unhealthy, apart from inhalants, as it is the only common intoxicant to cause significant brain and liver harm. Also, it is quite dangerous and addictive, however due to know purity and our cultures general knowledge of safe use, you wouldn’t know this.

    Unless we want the law to be sheer and utter hypocrisy, we should either ban alcohol or legalize marijuana. Any argument for keeping alcohol legal applies to marijuanna, any arguement for banning marijuana applies to alcohol.

  42. Yong-
    *Ahem* Try it to keep it down. We don’t want to give the pols any ideas. Make things worse then they already are. Thanks.

  43. “Many of the politicians who say that marijuana is a “gateway” drug (leading to cocaine and crack use) apparently smoked marijuana themselves when they were younger. By their logic, that makes them crack-heads and we should pay no attention to what they say.”
    — Harry Browne

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