Marijuana can be used topically (on the skin) to relieve pain from certain conditions. The medication can be a balm, lotion, ointment or rubbing alcohol solution. This is not a new use for marijuana. In fact prior to the time when most many patients became available and people only had plants to use for medication, many patients would soak marijuana leaves in alcohol and apply them as a poultice to an arthritic or swollen joint. It is not known how the topical treatment works as researchers have not fully studied how the medication passes through the skin.
Over the years, I have come to understand that the war on drugs is simply a metaphor for failing policies and misplaced government spending; the legalization of hemp growth and production can reduce U.S. dependency on foreign products, stimulate the American economy and significantly impact global climate change by reversing the ecosystem's inability to process current CO2 emissions and other pollutants. Hemp is not psychoactive nor does it resemble its cousin, Cannibis Sativa, in appearance.
Currently, the only objection to legalizing hemp growth the DEA (the only federal agency willing to enter into dialog about hemp) can come up with is that illegal growth can be concealed within hemp fields. However, illegal growth centers around unpollinated plants – which contain the higher psychoative levels associated with smoking and ingesting – and no illegal grower worth his effort would place plants in a field of hemp and risk pollenation. Furthermore, marijauna plants differ from hemp plants in that they are short, stocky plants with a lateral root system, while hemp is tall with a tap root system. The distinctions are obvious.
The history of the illegalization of hemp dates back to the 1930's. Prior to that, hemp was grown and harvested freely around the world, and still is in many countries. In the U.S., harvest of the fibers was achieved by hand – termed 'retting' – and was an awkward and time-consuming process. In 1937 a machine was developed that promised farmers a new cash crop in the form of Hemp.
Before going on, it is important that one understand that hemp products were – and still are – considered superior; the Declaration of Indepedance and the Bill of Rights were both written on hemp paper, and still exist today while paper wood-pulp paper has a shelf-life of about a hundred years. Hemp product lines are diversive and range from the finest linen to the strongest and most flexible building materials. Every part of the harvested plant is used. Hemp products not only perform when compared to conventional products and processes, their performance often exceeds the competition. Competing products such as wood-pulp paper and cotton have severe performance limitations and environmental drawbacks with regard to growth and product manufacturing.
Cotton growth depletes the soil of vital nutrients that define its appearance and performance, and requires extraordinary amounts of pesticides to bring to harvest; think: Dust Bowl and birth defects. Cotton fibers require much more refining – hence more environmental impact in terms of energy consumption and emissions – than hemp, which resembles linen; forget burlap bags and rope, hemp fabric is currently being used by the world's top designers of men and woman's fashions.
Wood-pulp paper not only requires trees that take decades to mature, but deprives ecosystems of vital respiratory elements (1 acre of hemp = 4.1 acres of trees). The refining process is so environmentally unfriendly that this author cannot fathom that it is still in production. As mentioned earlier, it doesn't have much of a shelf-life – good news for land-fills and preservative (Chemical) manufacturing companies. Hemp grows fast – highly sustainable – and sucks up more pollution than trees or cotton without depleting the soil or environment.
So a machine comes along that simplifies hemp fiber harvest in 1937 and is featured in a Popular Mechanics article in which lies the promise of a new, environmental-friendly cash crop in 1938. The era is marked by the Depression and the dust-bowl effect (soil erosion caused by successive growths of cotton crops), and also the derisive term, Marijuana.
Marijuana is the Propaganda's moniker for hemp, however marijuana and hemp are two different things, but since Propaganda fails to make that distinction, the American public is introduced to the War on Drugs AND deprived of a cash crop that could save the fields and the farmers – not to mention the troubled economy – when it is illegalized in the U.S in the late '30's.
Propaganda is everything that is wrong about society – not just a word and a social institution – a compilation of distilled deceptions that is cumulative, insidious, pervasive, and toxic. Propaganda is about agendas of the elite and misinformation. Propaganda is supported by such entities as the United States government, the Religious Right, the Moral Majority, political party politics in general, a host of publishing agencies and houses, big businesses which employ lobbyists and/or wield political power or influence, and monopolies of any kind. Propaganda is marked by the appearance of vast differences in status or social standing within its ranks. Propaganda is the enemy of the common man, common law and common sense. Propaganda tells us what is “normal” and represents an authority to be challenged above all else …
But I digress.
Since their inception, the state and federal statutes governing illegalization have largely gone unnoticed and unchallenged. Recently California and Arizona have ratified medical use of marijuana, with other states moving in that direction. The Federal government however, refuses to acknowledge or honor these new state statutes so the jurisdictional issues are convoluted – to say the least. Nevertheless, state and aborigional groups with legal authority are being challenged by various law enforcement agencies with raids and arrests. The Drug Enforcement Agency, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – both federal agencies – report an increase in arrests, while statistical data indicates that the incidence of drug use remains relatively static. There are reports of increased marijauna use, but with legalization in two states, that data is subject to closer examination.
One may wonder why, with all these good qualities, is hemp still illegal? The answers are as convoluted as the jurisdiction issue.
Basically, the hemp issue is buried under the War On Drugs movement that began in the 1930's with its illegalization. Right now, everyone is discussing the latest round of arrests, or the latest designer drug, or old demons like heroin and opiates, or relative newcomer Crack or medical marijuana. Hemp is shadowed by these issues and others; like an old, wet blanket the war on drugs policies are hampering efforts to separate hemp from marijuana in the eyes of the general public.
Right now, lobbyists are employed to strengthen anti-drug policies and other interests of the principle players in this arena. The players range from private companies to share-holders in international firms and members of domestic and foreign governments, as well. Consumers, blinded by slick advertising and consumed by materialism promoted by these product manufacturers are often unwittingly strengthening the value of obsolete technologies. Earth-friendly technology and product lines are out there, but we aren't seeking them because it's illegal to grow the hemp necessary to produce and fuel those technologies and products.Some of the products that could utilize hemp include a fiberglass-like material used in place of steel and a building material that is stronger and more flexible than concrete. Not only is this technology possible but it's earth-friendly and can be grown and produced domestically using farmland and deeply troubled farmers. Economically, hemp just makes too much sense to ignore as a commodity; it is a multi-billion dollar industry world-wide, and Americans who wish to use the superior hemp product have to import it.
With legalization of hemp growth on a commercial basis, the United States could heal a significant portion of the Earth's environmental woes as well as reverse the advancement of global warming. Hemp utilizes four times the nitrogen in the atmosphere in its respiration process than do trees. Because of its short growing season, it makes an excellent bumper crop without significant demands on the soil or the farmer. The market for hemp products is growing in the U.S. and is well-established abroad, but the versatility of hemp is as yet unsung and the cotton producers, the pulp companies, the chemical companies and petroleum producers like it that way. And the lobbyists' carry-on in a rapidly declining ecosystem over-burdened by consumerism of radically inappropriate and unhealthy products that are often made of or by non-renewable resources.
As environmentally conscious consumers, it behooves us all to reconsider hemp as a cash crop. Just try on an article of hemp clothing, or a hemp-seed oil-based lotion. Chances are, it will impress you enough to buy it. But it will be imported, and that is the crime.
Reading List & References:
The Hemp Manifesto by Rowan Robinson
The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer
Understanding Marijuana by Mitch Earlywine
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
Smoke and Mirrors by Dan Baum