“Hemp is, by far, Earth’s premier, renewable natural resource.”
— Jack Herer

In Jack Herer’s scathing Corporate takedown, The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy, he talks about the history of hemp:

Botanically, hemp is a member of the most advanced plant family on Earth. It is a dioecious (having male, female and sometimes hermaphroditic, male and female on same plant), woody, herbaceous annual that uses the sun more efficiently than virtually any other plant on our planet, reaching a robust 12 to 20 feet or more in one short growing season. It can be grown in virtually any climate or soil condition on Earth, even marginal ones.

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That is a most kindly flag Miss Ross. Sew up another please!

Among its many uses hemp was crafted into canvas sails, virtually all of the rigging, anchor ropes, cargo nets, fishing nets, flags, shrouds, and sailors’ clothing for ocean-going vessels, as well as Levis, tents, bed sheets and linens, rugs, drapes, quilts, towels, diapers, and the U.S. flag, all principally made from fibers of cannabis. Additionally, any ships’ charts, maps, logs, and Bibles were made from paper containing hemp fiber. Roll that up and smoke it Moses. Not to mention, paint, varnish, lamp oil, food, and of course, medicine. yet it may be its use as a paper product that created the environment in which it met its a legislature too large.

The 1930s saw the creation of the decorticator – a new mechanical hemp fiber stripping machine– as well as machines to conserve hemp’s high-cellulose pulp threaten to become widespread enough to lower the cost of mass-produced hemp-based paper products a reality–and a danger–tonot only the American public, but to American manufacturing, and most importantly Randolph Heart’s newspapers. Hearst had large timber interests and a paper manufacturing division, and stood to lose the substantial profits he made by selling the yellow journalism he daily coerced his editors into spewing, such as, “Mexican killer weed, Marihuana.” This snowballed into other racist epithets (“Marihuana-crazed blacks raping whites”) that were largely accepted by the majority Caucasian populace and scared the citizenry into silent acceptance for 60 years.

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, drafted by Harry Anslinger–an anti-drug nutjob who held the post of Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics for more than 30 years–placed a tax on the sale of cannabis. This affected few beside the AMA (American Medical Association), which prescribed marijuana medicinally. The Tax Act is seen as the precursor to criminalization of the plant, a conspiracy hatched by Hearst and the DuPont Petrochemical Company, which had just invented Nylon, a rival fiber that may have challenged DuPont investor Andrew Mellon’s (Anslinger’s Father-in-law and Secretary of the Treasury at the time) interests.

The only major opposition to the Marihuana Tax Act was brought by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who in 1939 created the La Guardia Committee, which conducted the first in-depth study into the effects of smoking cannabis. Contradicting claims made by the U.S. Treasury Department, the committee concluded that “the practice of smoking marihuana does not lead to addiction in the medical sense of the word.” The report did little beside angering Anslinger, who was not a doctor, though he called it unscientific. Incredible that the Treasury once wielded such power. And so with little more fanfare than the beginning of 60 years of arrests for the possession and sale of minor amounts of fruit of the hemp plant.

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While there are many who point to the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana as being a stepping off point into the oblivion of a lawless society, the continued stigmatization of the plant as something different than any other socially acceptable drug with generally mild euphoric effect, is past the point of being saleable to an increasingly world-savvy generation of people with some kind of disposable incomes. Almost 60% of millennials see marijuana as something that should be legalized, while the boomer and gen xers tend to top out at just over 50%, dually ironic in that kids are starting to see things as their parents do, and that the hippy generation who championed “Peace Not War” has become conservative almost to a fault. More than %05 of Americans do think it should be recreationally legal, a fact that is hard to ignore in a world where hardliners want to cut tax revenue and worries about future solvency of Social Security and healthcare seem to be never-ending. Let the people eat cake, especially if it’s safely laced with THC and well, but not prohibitively, taxed.

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Pew Research Marijuana Map

Despite opposition, the tide is turning. In four states – Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon as well as Washington D.C., recreational use of marijuana has become legal in the last two years, while an additional 14 states have decriminalized certain amounts of marijuana possession. Including those five locations, 23 states plus D.C. and Guam allow medical marijuana. As far as the U.S. government is concerned Marijuana remains a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, classified as having a “high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use.” However the Obama Administration has been active in not prosecuting those involved in the medicinal marijuana trade. As well as staying away from Colorado & Washington recreational tax revenues. That doesn’t mean any of these new businesses popping up will accept a debit card anytime soon.

Hemp has thousands of applications developed over the millennia by industrious people who did not have the benefit of modern technology, including by the U.S. military during WWII. With the advent of high tech processes that could streamline the production of high quality hemp products, it is wasteful to continue in the current fashion, especially when the major hang-up is the prohibition-era teetotaller-minded stigmitization based on lies and profit for the privileged few. It was only in the Tax Act of 1937 and the subsequent Controlled Substances Act of 1970 that it became a Schedule I substance equal to heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and crack. What was happening in the early part of last century is largely what is happening now – the widespread medicinal application of a generally mild euphoric relaxant. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, the first state in the union to allow for the medical use of marijuana. In response to California’s Prop 215 the Institute of Medicine put together a report which found that “Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation…The psychological effects of cannabinoids, such as anxiety reduction, sedation, and euphoria can influence their potential therapeutic value. Those effects are potentially undesirable for certain patients and situations and beneficial for others.” That’s science’s way of saying, Randolph Hearst was full of shit.