It turns out that the cannabis is the only plant in nature that grows as male and female. The male plant (industrial hemp) is not usable as a drug. The female plant, we now call marijuana, is only potent for drug use as long as it remains un-pollinated by the male plants. That is one reason growers tend to quarantine their crop from the outside air, as pollen from the male hemp will ruin the crop. Yet hemp, of either gender, has become so rare in our environment, due to prohibition laws, that illegal growers have begun planting their marijuana crops in open air and even IN OUR NATIONAL FORESTS! This has become a real issue as hikers and vacationing families have unintentionally encountered these secret crops. This is a dangerous situation to be put in, not because the plants are dangerous to walk through, but because the black market community attracts the worst of people. These illegal, open air, crops are sometimes protected by armed guards with military grade weapons. These facts immediately brings up a question in my mind; Why not decriminalize the male plant as it will potentially ruin the crop of illegal growers of marijuana?
Take a look at some of these historical facts about hemp:*
1) All schoolbooks were made from hemp or flax paper until the 1880s. (Jack Frazier. Hemp Paper Reconsidered. 1974.)
2) It was legal to pay taxes with hemp in America from 1631 until the early 1800s. (LA Times. Aug. 12, 1981.)
3) Refusing to grow hemp in America during the 17th and 18th centuries was against the law! You could be jailed in Virginia for refusing to grow hemp from 1763 to 1769 (G. M. Herdon. Hemp in Colonial Virginia).
4) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers grew hemp. (Washington and Jefferson Diaries. Jefferson smuggled hemp seeds from China to France then to America.)
5) Benjamin Franklin owned one of the first paper mills in America, and it processed hemp. Also, the War of 1812 was fought over hemp. Napoleon wanted to cut off Moscow’s export to England. (Jack Herer. Emperor Wears No Clothes.)
6) For thousands of years, 90% of all ships’ sails and rope were made from hemp. The word ‘canvas’ is Dutch for cannabis. (Webster’s New World Dictionary.)
7) 80% of all textiles, fabrics, clothes, linen, drapes, bed sheets, etc., were made from hemp until the 1820s, with the introduction of the cotton gin.
8) The first Bibles, maps, charts, Betsy Ross’s flag, the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were made from hemp. (U.S. Government Archives.)
9) The first crop grown in many states was hemp. 1850 was a peak year for Kentucky producing 40,000 tons. Hemp was the largest cash crop until the 20th century. (State Archives.)
10) In 1916, the U.S. Government predicted that by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees need to be cut down. Government studies report that 1 acre of hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees. Plans were in the works to implement such programs. (U.S. Department of Agriculture Archives.)
11) Quality paints and varnishes were made from hemp seed oil until 1937. 58,000 tons of hemp seeds were used in America for paint products in 1935. (Sherman Williams Paint Co. testimony before the U.S.Congress against the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act.)
12) Henry Ford’s first Model-T was built to run on hemp gasoline and the car itself was constructed from hemp! On his large estate, Ford was photographed among his hemp fields. The car, ‘grown from the soil,’ had hemp plastic panels whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel. (Popular Mechanics, 1941.)
13) In 1938, hemp was called ‘Billion-Dollar Crop.’ It was the first time a cash crop had a business potential to exceed a billion dollars. (Popular Mechanics, Feb. 1938.)
14) Mechanical Engineering Magazine (Feb. 1938) published an article entitled ‘The Most Profitable and Desirable Crop that Can be Grown.’ It stated that if hemp was cultivated using 20th century technology, it would be the single largest agricultural crop in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
15) In the production of ethanol, hemp is seven times more effective than corn.
Here are some quotes from great Americans in support of industrial grade hemp:
"We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption." (John Adams, U.S. President)
"Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country." (Thomas Jefferson)
"An acre of the best ground for hemp, is to be selected and sewn in hemp and be kept for a permanent hemp patch." (Thomas Jefferson's Garden book 1849)
"Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!" (George Washington, The Writings of George Washington Volume 33, page 270 (Library of Congress), 1794)
"Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?" (Henry Ford)
Why was industrial hemp made illegal?
William Randolph Hearst and the Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division of Kimberly Clark owned vast acreage of timberlands. The Hearst Company supplied most paper products. Patty Hearst’s grandfather, stood to lose billions because of hemp.
In 1937, DuPont patented the processes to make plastics from oil and coal. DuPont’s Annual Report urged stockholders to invest in its new petrochemical division. Synthetics such as plastics, cellophane, celluloid, methanol, nylon, rayon, Dacron, etc., could now be made from oil. Natural hemp industrialization would have ruined over 80% of DuPont’s business.
Andrew Mellon became Hoover’s Secretary of the Treasury and DuPont’s primary investor. He appointed his future nephew-in-law, Harry J.Anslinger, to head the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Secret meetings were held by these financial tycoons. Hemp was declared dangerous and a threat to their billion-dollar enterprises. For their dynasties to remain intact, hemp had to go. These men took an obscure Mexican slang word: ‘marijuana’ and pushed it into the consciousness of America.
What would the decriminalization of Industrial grade hemp mean for Washington State today?
Even with the stigmas and misinformation perpetuated by the agriculture, petroleum, chemical and lumber industries, we as a nation import about $400 million of industrial hemp into this country. Due to economic pressures, state governments are now in a race to decriminalize industrial hemp in order to grab a piece of this market. The potential market for industrial hemp is incalculable due to its many possible uses. Struggling industries in Washington State (farmers, paper mills in Wallula, bio fuel research) would be revolutionized with this new local product available. This means new jobs, a thriving economy and more revenue to pay off our terminal debt.
The issue of Industrial Hemp is a separate issue from our drug laws concerning medical and/or recreational marijuana, as I have explained, and would, in fact, discourage the illegal growing of marijuana. Now that this information has come to light about industrial hemp, I would encourage our representatives Delvin, Klippert and Hailer to look into this issue further, with haste, and present a bill to decriminalize Industrial hemp in our state.
* historical facts referenced from an article by Doug Yurchey