Hemp should be part of our green future

By By John Stafford

By John Stafford

Hempfest, an event held in the Union on Thursday, helped to educate students about the benefits of industrial hemp and the societal costs of America’s often misinformed war on drugs.

The fear and untruthful arguments that have been used to keep hemp illegal have propagated the myth that hemp and marijuana are one and the same.

While hemp and marijuana are from the same genus Cannabis, hemp is extremely low8212;less than 1 percent8212;in the marijuana-high producing psychoactive cannabinoid delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and high in the antipsychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD). Marijuana is the exact opposite, with a high level of THC and a low level of CBD. CBD actually blocks the marijuana high, and hemp’s high percentage of CBD makes it not only an impossible means to a drug fix, it essentially makes hemp the “antimarijuana,” according to a study by David West for the North American Industrial Hemp Council.

This means that no matter how many hemp bracelets are smoked in a bong, baked in brownies or melted down on a spoon, a high will not be produced. The argument that marijuana and hemp are one and the same because they share the same genus is only valid in the sense that poodles and wolves, which both share the genus Canis, are the same. The idea that people can get high on hemp is basically like saying French poodles often roam in packs, seeking a vulnerable moose to pounce on for their next meal.

Why then is there such a vehement argument against industrialized hemp, which can be used in everything from paper to nutritious food? Sadly, outdated clichés of the “Reefer Madness” age have taken precedence over common sense and a long national history that supports hemp’s practicality. In Jamestown, it was illegal not to grow hemp and founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew it copiously on their plantations. Instead of smoking it in fatties, they used it to, among other things, make paper, like the paper upon which they drafted the Declaration of Independence. Henry Ford built a car made of hemp, and though it might not have been as hilarious as its marijuana counterpart, brilliantly engineered by Cheech and Chong in “Up in Smoke,” it shows that hemp’s versatility has long since been underutilized.

Time has not rendered hemp obsolete.

According to studies posted on www.votehemp.com, hemp is the world’s strongest natural fiber. It is cheaper and lasts longer than cotton, and while cotton uses close to 50 percent of all the world’s pesticides, hemp can be grown in almost any environment with little or no pesticides. Industrial hemp can yield three to eight dry tons of fiber per acre, four times what an average forest can yield. Also, trees take approximately 20 years to mature, but hemp takes just around four months, a testament to its sustainability. Paper made from wood pulp tends to last between 25 and 80 years, whereas hemp paper lasts for centuries, ensuring there will still be an extra Washington, D.C. tourist stop to view the Declaration of Independence while that first draft of the George Washington essay you wrote on paper from Kinko’s freshman year crumbles into oblivion. These benefits have persuaded every developed nation but the United States to view hemp as an established crop, rather than an enemy of the drug war.

It is this information that groups such as Students for Sensible Drug Policy are promoting via events like Hempfest. SFSDP’s Utah chapter president Valerie Douroux, who organized Hempfest, said the main goal was to “spread awareness and unify the community…In the go green sustainability movement, hemp is the answer.”

Although it might be, the propaganda of the past seems to still have mainstream America too dazed and confused to see the benefits of anything prefaced by the terrifying name cannabis. Americans, and especially Utahns, need to open their eyes and face the facts. Modern industrial hemp is a crucial factor in the preservation of our forests and the movement toward global sustainability, not mere fuel for “Beavis & Butt-Head” marathons and late night Taco Bell.

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John Stafford