July 21, 2009 – It will come as absolutely no surprise to some, that in 1971, the year British Petroleum took out the largest bank loan in history to finance its offshore oil explorations (a statistic which still stands today), the serving British government implemented the Misuse of Drugs act. A law which would take away the cannabis plant from those that need it most, forever.
Ever since, successive governments have told the wider population how bad cannabis is for us. Indeed the evidence delivered through a carefully crafted press campaign which spans almost a century, has been delivered with such force and magnitude, the very mention of the word ‘Cannabis’ these days brings about much sharp-intaking-of-breath, accompanied by lots of nudge’s and wink’s.
But does it really deserve the bad rap it gets in the press? Because the fact is, and whether the British Government, the police or even President Obama himself will admit it in public, the much maligned cannabis plant is the most often used recreational illicit narcotic in the world. And with regular user numbers reaching over 250 million around the world, and barely a ripple of adverse reactions to the active elements in the marijuana plant, it could also quite possibly be the safest substance in the world. According to their own statistics.
Now before all our Conservative readers change the channel I would like to present for you some evidence.
Legalize Cannabis? Not anytime soon
All around the globe the politics surrounding cannabis present us with mixed up, convoluted theories. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called it “lethal”, even though half of his serving Cabinet admitted using it whilst they climbed the political ladder from University to Whitehall. That’s a fact.
President Obama famously admitted not only to using cannabis, but also to inhaling..frequently, stating “Thats the point, right?”, when he was asked about his past drug use in the Presidential Elections in 2008 and rather than bore the pants off the long-suffering reader with a long and very well documented list of who inhaled, suffice to say enough people of influence and power have used cannabis recreationally, without any ill-harm coming to them, to push through a decision to decriminalize the substance if they so desired.
So its fair to assume no matter how much the lobbyists spend in communicating with the powers that be, due to how the political system actually works, career politicians can just keep causing delay after delay, keeping cannabis illegal pretty much as long as they want to, and regardless of what the electorate wants.
Yes we can? (Oh no we can’t!)
Which is NOT exactly the new democratic beginning we were promised when Obama was swept to power, is it? One of the primary arguments for NOT legalizing cannabis is its propensity to induce amotivational behavior – the tendency not to care, when you really should care.
But the list of politicians, actors, industrialists and sportsmen and women, including the Olympian with the largest haul of gold medals to date, (Michael Phelps) who admit to using cannabis disproves this theory out of hand.
If you give a person the motivation to succeed a large majority of them will. So blaming cannabis for the failings of humanity is nothing more than a convenient cop out. And its a cop out which no longer holds any water.
The health argument against cannabis is a campaign which is being orchestrated by the highest office within the United Nations. A global quango inspired by a political machine more set on finding ‘jobs for the boys’ than actually solving the worlds drug problems.
And the motivations behind such a steadfast campaign for an unrealistic pipe dream in which abstinence is the key word in a nations drugs policy can only be speculated, but one thing is for sure. You can bet its down to money somewhere along the line.
1937 Marijuana Tax Act
When the campaign against the drug which ‘makes blacks think they’re as good as whites’ was presented to US congress by Harry Anslinger in 1937, the resultant Act did not itself criminalize the possession or usage of hemp, marijuana or cannabis, but levied a tax equaling roughly one dollar on anyone who dealt commercially in cannabis, hemp or marijuana.
The Act did however include penalty provisions and a complex Regulation 1 codifying the elaborate rules of enforcement to which marijuana, cannabis, or hemp handlers were subject. Violation of these procedures could result in a fine of up to $2000 (a kings ransom back then) and five years’ imprisonment.
The net effect was to increase the risk for anyone dealing in the substance. It also signaled the start of the longest lasting conflict in the history of mankind. The drug war.
In 1937 its worth remembering the oil industry was still in its infancy. We simply didn’t have the convenience of rotary moulded plastics, and liquid resins with which to fit out a nations war machine, so when the US were drawn irresistibly into the second world war on December 7th 1941 with the devastating attack on Pearl Harbour, all of a sudden there was a materials crisis which needed the nations full attention.
Hemp for Victory
The American government’s answer to the crisis was to make a movie. But not just another old Ronald Regan movie. This was a film which was designed to encourage all of the farmers whose livelihoods had recently been removed by the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, to step up to the plate and grow Hemp for Victory. Again.
The 1942 movie encouraged and taught farmers to grow variants of hemp suitable as raw material for hawsers used by the U.S. Navy and the Merchant Marine, prior to the adoption of Nylon rope – an oil industry by-product which was not yet widely available.
The hemp was also used as a substitute for other fibrous materials that were blocked by Japan. Materials for the construction of uniforms, webbing, canvas for tents, truck-backs and footwear (the list is endless) and it was quickly realized humanity was not yet ready to live without industrial hemp. Maybe we could live without it, but we couldn’t win a war!
Soon afterward every person with some spare ground was playing their part in the overall victory, by growing hemp.
Just how versatile IS hemp?
Hemp is used for a wide variety of purposes, including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, clothing, and nutritional products.
The long (hemp grows tall) bast fibers can be used in 100% hemp products, but are commonly blended with other organic fibers such as flax, cotton or silk, for apparel and furnishings, most commonly at a 55%/45% hemp/cotton blend.
The inner two fibers of hemp are more woody, and are more often used in non-woven items and other industrial applications, such as mulch, animal bedding, insulation materials and litter.
More recently a British company has found a lime/hemp mix which is ideal for building ‘carbon neutral houses’ cheaply and quickly.
Natural ‘Organic’ Plastics
The oil from the fruits (“seeds”) dries on exposure to air (similar to linseed oil) and is sometimes used in the manufacture of oil-based paints, in creams as a moisturizing agent, for cooking, and in plastics.
Many of these products which today we rely on the oil industry to produce for us.
Have I seen the movie? What movie?
Interestingly, before 1989, the ‘Hemp For Victory’ film was relatively unknown, and the United States Department of Agriculture library and the Library of Congress told all interested parties that no such movie was made by the USDA or any branch of the U.S. government.
But much to their chagrin, two VHS copies were recovered and donated to the Library of Congress on May 19, 1989 by Maria Farrow, Carl Packard, and the ‘Grandfather’ of hemp, Jack Herer.
We can only ponder why the US government would deny all knowledge of a film it made.
Hemp nutrition is also a hot potato at the moment. Due to it being able to give the human body an almost perfect ratio of omega 3, 6 and 9, its an ideal replacement which could help save our struggling deep-sea stocks.
Perhaps surprisingly this combination of essential fatty acids, (they’re called essential because we can’t make them ourselves), minerals and vitamins is delivered in its most rudimentary form. A seed.
But before we can actually get at it, we need to get the good stuff out, and we achieve this by cold pressing the seed, and harvesting the valuable hemp seed oil.
A New ‘Oil’ Industry?
Cold pressing hemp seed oil is a practice which can be traced back through time. The hemp seed has traditionally provided the entire oil requirements for many races, just as the Olive continues to do today.
Just over a decade ago a Canadian entreprenour called Mike Fata acquired some cold-oil pressing equipment and started supplying four local health food shops in Canada with fresh cold pressed hemp seed culinary oil.
11 years on and his company Manitoba Harvest is one of the most well-known hemp nutrition vendors in the world, with an annual turnover which is counted in the tens of millions of dollars. From little acorns…
Drill your own oil
As more people become aware of the benefits of a high hemp seed diet, so the markets require new products to furnish the demand. One British company to take advantage of the rise in hemp’s popularity has a particularly GOOD story to tell.
Henry Braham, is a Director of Photography, and Glynis Murray, a Movie Producer. They met around 15 years ago, when filming together.
Something they still do in fact – their latest film is Everybody’s Fine , with Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore.
Soon after they met they found they had more in common than movies – both grew up on farms.
Henry & Glynis bought Collabear Farm in 1996, and started farming themselves.
Henry says that they never set out to produce a culinary oil, “like all the best journeys, we never had a specific destination in mind.”
They started by looking at options for sustainable farming.
Hemp had just been reintroduced to the UK – a crop that had been key to the economy in Northern Europe for centuries, but had fallen out of fashion in recent years.
It fitted their requirements perfectly. Hemp is hugely beneficial to the environment, and can be used in an impressive range of eco friendly products. It meant they could grow a crop that was both sustainable and profitable.
Henry and Glynis grew hemp successfully for fibre – used to manufacture the interiors of Mercedes and BMW 5 and 3 series cars. But it was only when they picked and tasted the seeds in the fields that they were inspired to develop a culinary oil.
‘They were delicious,’ says Henry.
‘And then we began to learn all about the incredible health properties of hemp seed. It is very high in essential fats, has about half the saturated fats of olive oil and is the most naturally perfect oil in terms of omega -3 and -6.’
But getting the oil to taste as good as the raw hemp seed wasn’t easy.
‘It took us ages to get it right,’ explains Glynis. ‘It was a question of trial and error. And, when you’re growing a crop, you do one trial, have your error, and then have to wait another year.’ It was 10 years before they perfected the harvesting and pressing of the seeds to produce an oil that tastes like the seed in the field. Hence why GOOD Hemp Seed Oil today tastes so GOOD!
But a great taste isn’t the only consideration. Hemp seed oil will run a power station just as readily as it will power a car engine or a domestic central heating system. And when you take into account for an investment of around £10,000 every community in Wales could theoretically own its own hemp seed oil press, the ramifications for the petroleum industry start to manifest a little more clearly.
Hemp in Wales
Imagine a farmer growing hemp on his own land, never having to buy fuel oil again for his machinery, or central heating oil to warm his farm house?
Electricity from a ‘green’ oil electricity generator is a not too distant option, making the entire farm self-sufficient power-wise.
As a one-off, as is the case of Henry Braham and Glynis Murray above to a degree, it makes for a novel tale. But if the concept were taken up on a much wider scale you can be sure the petroleum industry would have something to say about it.
So the government fans the flames of ambiguity by publishing this story or that regarding cannabis-the-drug.
Its a health risk. It could cause cancer. It could cause mental illness, and pressure-groups spring up, run by mothers who failed as mothers, and who “lost their children to cannabis”.
But the fact is the numbers of people who have an adverse reaction to cannabis are precious few in relation to how many actually use it.
In the meantime around 7 million UK citizens and in the region of 240 million others elsewhere around the world sit wondering what all the fuss is about.
Simply by deploying hemp in a number of situations which are currently fueled by fossil oils, we could substantially reduce the amount of CO2 we pump into the atmosphere every single year, so it comes as a huge surprise to hear not one global leader mention hemp playing a part in any of their plans to reduce Co2 levels.
The fact is the petroleum industry holds the world in its vice like grip, and any talk of further freeing up the industrial hemp plant would doubtless lead to sanctions from OPEC – The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. A powerful council indeed, and one which has in its power the ability to raise the price of crude oil from $65 to $140 per barrel in under a year, with the huge financial burden this would (and did) place on society as a result.
In the United Kingdom, when the oil industry and the government meet they do so not at the place of work of the government, in London.
The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequor must fly to the far north of Scotland, to Aberdeen, to meet the oil men, and there are not many industries in the UK which have this financial hold over the government. One or two at the most.
Chicken & Egg
Going back to 1937 its fair to assume that when Harry Anslinger appeared before the US Congress, an appearance which brought about the implementation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, he did so (as the story goes), to stop the influence of marijuana being brought in from Mexico with the influx of foreign workers which had traveled north in the hunt for work, as well as to escape Pancho Villa’s marauding revolutionary army.
At least, that’s how history will tell it.
However, the fact is, the move was motivated not by any great public health concerns, but by how much money a few wealthy men stood to lose from their infantile petroleum explorations.
Explorations which went on to create some of the wealthiest families on the planet and in doing so, could well have destroyed our fragile eco-system for good.
But all is not lost, and if we can disentangle cannabis-the-drug, and industrial hemp for long enough to attract some outside investment, who knows where that will end?
What we do know though, is the petroleum industry stands to be hit hardest, should cannabis, (and as a result industrial hemp) ever become legalized.
So don’t hold your breath waiting.
For everything you ever wanted to know about the fantastic hemp plant but didn’t know who to ask, please visit http://www.jackherer.com/
For more information about GOOD Oil, please visit their website which can be found at; http://www.goodwebsite.co.uk