Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper, and Betsy Ross made her first flag with the stuff. But since 1937, hemp-the non-psychoactive form of the cannabis plant-has been illegal to grow in the United States.
In Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution (Chelsea Green), Doug Fine details how much we're losing under this pointless prohibition. This short, lively book is far from polemical or proselytizing. Rather, Fine takes us on a narrative journey that includes visits with farmers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and politicians.
Along the way, Fine exposes us to hemp's many environmental, economic, and health benefits. He's especially excited about its potential as a cash crop. As one Colorado farmer and self-styled "patriot" tells Fine, "America's going to be stronger with hemp in her fields. We're talking about opening markets, and all kinds of legitimate commerce that'll result." -Elizabeth Nolan Brown