Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hemp: The Worlds Most Highly Used and Beneficial Plant

Written by: Jeff Meints

I would first like to clear up some common misconceptions regarding a certain plant. The cannabis family tree at some point in time, branched off into two different segments. The first segment is industrial hemp, which is the non-drug version of the plant and has an estimated 50,000 uses. The other segment of the cannabis family tree would be marijuana, which contains the psychoactive component THC or the derivative Marinol, which makes marijuana a drug and has been used for medicinal purposes since around 8,000 BC.

We've all learned in class that rice, wheat and potatoes were the main crops of the world for specific regions and civilizations, which enabled them to grow and thrive. This is the common knowledge we are taught in history class, but no where is the cannabis family tree, or hemp, or marijuana ever mentioned, or how this crop was entwined in the success of some of the greatest civilizations, including America. The cannabis family tree allowed the world to thrive economically, medicinally, politically, religiously, and industrially.

Around the time potatoes were discovered at Lake Titicaca in South America, wheat was being discovered in the Fertile Crescent, and rice in China, and all were on their way to cultivation due to the agricultural revolution, well the cannabis family tree was also being spread from the Himalayas to all areas of Europe during that same time period. Throughout the Agricultural Revolution, Cannabis slowly made its way through China, to the Middle east, Egypt, and within 10,000 years it had spread, along with rice, wheat and potatoes, throughout the known world to places like Rome, Britain, Germany, Russia, Norway, Persia, India, Spain, and.... North and South America.

Before I get to Napoleon and his connection to hemp, I must mention Galileo and that all his research and work notes were written on hemp paper. Art canvas, and even the paint itself, was derived from hemp and hemp seed oil, and paintings of some of the greatest artists such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt were created on hemp canvas and painted with hemp oil paints. A few interesting facts is that the word canvas is derived from cannabis, hemp burns as the brightest kerosene lamp oil, and hemp seeds can be used as food which has the highest concentration of fatty amino acids.

During the Napoleonic Moment there was a very unique and interesting part of history that isn't often told. During this time, Britain was trading consistently with Russia and from 1500 - 1600's Russia was engaged in massive exportation of hemp rope and hemp canvas. Hemp was 90 percent of Russia's economy during the Napoleonic Moment and it sustained them greatly. If you can picture, not only the British fleet, but the majority of sailing ships and slave ships in the world at that time, their sail canvas, their ropes on the ships, big and small, all the vital components to any ship, and the sailors clothes were fashioned from hemp fiber. Professor Johnson's theme “The Rise to European Hegemony” requires one more crucial component: That was the hemp sails, hemp rope, hemp clothes, hemp oil, and hemp food, and Napoleon knew this. So, Napoleon enacted a treaty with Russia, after invading them, which was called “The Treaty of Tilsit”in 1807. This treaty simply stated that Russia would stop trade with Britain, or else face Napoleon's wrath.

Russia signed the treaty, ceased trade with Britain.... and fell into a depression. A black market then arose and continued selling hemp and other items to Britain. It was just about that time when Napoleon got upset at Russia for breaking the treaty, so he attempted to invade them again and well, we all know the rest. Napoleon was the first opponent of hemp and look where it got him. Hemp was one of the first crops planted on American soil and was used for 150 years, up until the 1930's. When hemp and marijuana were both criminalized in 1937, coincidently, America fell into a depression.

Finally, we will safari through Africa, because no place else needs the Hemp plant more. With technology these days Hemp can be made from anything – Go through the alphabet, A-Z. Hemp can be planted and removes radioactivity from the soil, and returns nutrients and nitrogen into the soil, unlike corn and tobacco, it's a year around crop and highly drought resistant and highly resistant to pests and diseases, unlike rice, wheat, and potatoes. When hemp is in a composite wood form it is highly fire resistant, and tornado and hurricane durable, and hemps dense root structure helps prevent mudslides. Hemp paper can be recycled up to 8 times while the current paper only 3. Hemp can be turned into a plastic that is 10 times as strong as steel and 1,000 pounds less in weight. 1 acre of hemp produces more oxygen then 25 acres of current forest.

The hemp plant could help re-develop those desertificationed areas and with the hemp plants, would come the hemp seeds. This would amount to an unimaginable amounts of hemp seeds which again, contain the highest concentration of fatty amino acids, and would help alleviate the hunger in Africa. Along with all the other 50,000 different uses you can produce from the hemp plant it is obvious that it would be Africa's savior. In fact, the hemp plant is humankind's savior. Voltaire said, “History is a pack of lies.” Well perhaps Voltaire was right, but now it is time for us to seek, confront and speak the truth about the hemp plant. Now is the time to set history straight.

I hope that you will walk away today and seek to educate yourself further in regards to hemp and the cannabis family tree. This historical plant is far to deeply rooted into our history to deny Americans the education behind it. The marijuana plant and the hemp plant have stabilized and helped economies boom and it has been used in thousands of different applications since the dawn of the agricultural revolution.

This is America's solution, this is The Solution. So, don't think of the cannabis family tree any longer as taboo, but instead fill yourself with the medicinally historical knowledge of hemp and marijuana. But not literally, of course.