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ISSUE 6The Great Hemp ConspiracySally-Jay StrongThe insidious, near global criminalisation of the cultivation, possession and use of Hemp and Cannabis and any derivative or product thereof was not a new or isolated scheme. We can say as a certainty that three factors are common causes of the prohibition of this plant.
An irrational fear caused by an overwhelming lack of understanding, resulting in an impassioned aversion to both Hemp and Cannabis alike.
The desire for conformity and control of the population (or portion thereof) by the “ruling classes” of the society at the time.
A distinct and often obvious racial/class divide is present, whereby it has been established that the top echelons of society will not be able to exercise complete control of the industry or micro-operators. This could easily give ordinary people more power over their futures and provide them with greater independence from governance.
In the colloquially know “Hemp Bible”, Author Jack Herer says: “For thousands upon thousands of years, all over the world, whole families came together to harvest the hemp fields at the height of the flowering season, never dreaming that one day the U.S. government would be spearheading an international movement to wipe the cannabis plant off the face of the earth.” One could go so far as to say that the suppression, criminalisation, or control of Cannabis and especially Hemp can be seen as an overtly racist act of control, no matter the country or point in history we use an example.
As far as recorded history shows, the ancient Chinese were the first to write about psychoactive aspects of Cannabis and yet they were also among the first to reject it as socially acceptable. Around 600 BCE there was a cultural rejection of intoxicants due to the rise of Taoism. Marijuana was then viewed as antisocial and reserved for use by holy-men and shamans.
Early Arabic texts referred to marijuana as the “bush of understanding” and the “morsel of thought.” However, it is widely believed that the prophet Mohammed prohibited cannabis use due to its psychoactive qualities (the Koran [2: 219] prohibits “intoxicants,”). During the French campaign in Egypt, the 40,000 French troops stationed there, quickly learned about Hashish, which was bought and sold in Egypt at the time. Encouraged by Napoleon to embrace Egyptian culture, many of these soldiers developed a taste for the cannabis derivative and brought it back home to France.
Due to the strong association with Sufi mystics, who were rejected by the Sunni elite, the prospect of a hashish ban killed two birds with one stone: It would appease the Sunni elite by cracking down on Sufis and alleviate a perceived public health problem among the French troops.
Colonial empires have often viewed marijuana with disdain and thought that the availability of it would be a serious disadvantage to maintaining a strong workforce and compliant military. The Spanish were one of the first colonial empires to encourage the cultivation of hemp throughout the Americas, by now having discerned a possible difference between the innocuous Hemp and psychoactive Cannabis.
Robert Clarke and Mark Merlin write: “the natives were beginning to use the plant for something other than rope,” they noted in their book “Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany.” This was the beginning of global attitudes changing for the worse. This culminated after the war when Nixon was developing friendships with cotton and tobacco lobbyists who quickly convinced him that it was in his, and America’s best interests to institute a full-scale ban on the Cannabis scourge and her insidious cousin Hemp. He made some strong statements on the subject:
“I want a Goddamn strong statement on marijuana … I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them. … By God we are going to hit the marijuana thing, and I want to hit it right square in the puss. … I want to hit it, against legalizing and all that sort of thing.” — Richard Nixon, 37th president of the United States If you’re confused that this seems to be a brief history on the prohibition of Cannabis, with very little reference to Hemp, this is where we get to the point. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture interprets industrial hemp as any part of the cannabis plant, whether growing or not, containing a THC concentration of no more than three tenths of one percent (0.3 percent) on a dry weight basis. As such, lawmakers have utilized the presence of THC to define two general categories of the cannabis plant: industrial hemp and marijuana.” — Hemp Business Journal)
Domestic production of Hemp was strongly encouraged throughout America up until the 1890s because of the use of hemp in making sails, rope, and clothing — during the war, but became severely restricted under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. When we take into consideration the thorough research of Jack Herer in his infamous book, American industrialists like John D. Rockefeller, William Randolf Hearst, and the Dupont Co. (among others) conspired to demonise the hemp industry in the 1930s. The industrial revolution powered by coal, petrochemicals, cotton, steel, and lumber soon blew the “hemp revolution” out of the water with the backing of the financial powerhouses that controlled the administration of the American Presidency at the time. Along with government heavyweights Harry Anslinger and Andrew Mellon, one of the most aggressive anti-drug marketing campaigns was conceived and labelled “Reefer Madness.” The rest, as they say, is History, but keeping firmly in mind that times, they are a-changing, and that the Cannabis plant is female energy … Perhaps it’s about time we listened to Her Story and gained some wisdom along the way.Sources: “Craft Weed,” by Ryan Stoa The Hemp Business Journal