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Jim Hightower
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Wednesday 6 February 2013
The U.S. is consuming millions of dollars’ worth of products made from hemp, that hemp comes from producers in other countries because our farmers aren’t allowed to grow it in the U.S. and reap the economic benefits here at home.

A Common Sense Crop for America’s Common Good

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Four years ago, Michelle Obama picked up a shovel and made a powerful symbolic statement about America's food and farm future: She turned a patch of White House lawn into a working organic garden.

That was a great move, earning kudos from just about everyone this side of Monsanto and the pesticide lobby. But now, as she begins another four years in the people's mansion, the first lady is probably asking herself: "How can I top that? What can I do this time around to plant a crop of common sense in our country's political soil that will link America's farmers, consumers, environment and grassroots economy into one big harvest of common good?"

Thanks for asking, Ms. Obama, and please allow me to intrude into your thoughts with a one-word suggestion: hemp. Plant a good, healthy stand of industrial hemp next to your organic garden!

This would, of course, drive the anti-drug zealots up the wall (a good place for them, I think). "Holy J. Edgar Hoover," they'd scream, "hemp is a distant cousin of marijuana!"

Well, yes, but the industrial variety of cannabis lacks the psychoactive aspects of pot, so their hysteria is misplaced. Industrial hemp won't make anyone high, but it certainly can make us happy, because it would deliver a new economic and environmental high for America.

Plus, hemp production is firmly rooted in American history. Question: Besides being founders of our republic, what did Thomas Jefferson and George Washington have in common? Answer: Both farmed hemp. Most of America's founders were strong promoters of this extraordinarily useful agricultural crop, with Jefferson declaring it to be " of first necessity ... to the wealth and protection of the country."

The first draft of our Constitution was written on hemp paper. "Old Ironsides" was powered by sails of hemp cloth. As late as World War II, the government urgently pushed farmers to grow the crop as part of a "Hemp for Victory" program.

So why are American farmers today prohibited from producing this patriotic, profitable, pesticide-free plant? Political nuttiness. Most recently, in a frenzy of reefer madness, U.S. drug police decided that President Dick Nixon's "Controlled Substance Act of 1970" not only outlawed marijuana, but also its non-narcotic cousin, industrial hemp.

If ignorance is bliss, they must've been ecstatic, yet their nuttiness remains the law of our land today.

While our nation is the world's biggest consumer of hemp products (from rope to shampoo, building materials to food), the mad masters of our insane "drug war" have lumped hemp and marijuana together as "Schedule 1 controlled substances" — making our Land of the Free the world's only industrialized country that bans farmers from growing this benign, profitable, job-creating and environmentally beneficial plant.

Thus, the U.S. is consuming millions of dollars' worth of products made from hemp, that hemp comes from producers in other countries, because our farmers aren't allowed to grow it in the U.S. and reap the economic benefits here at home.

The good news, though, is that a wave of sanity is now wafting across America. In Colorado, for example, farmer Michael Bowman and Denver hemp advocate Lynda Parker helped pass Amendment 64 in last fall's election. While it legalizes personal pot use, which got all the media attention, it also directs the legislature to set up a program for "the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp."

Bowman now hopes to be the first American farmer in generations to plant a legal crop of it. Appropriately enough, he hopes to do so on April 30 — the 80th birthday of family-farmer hero and hemp champion Willie Nelson.

Even red states like Kentucky are on the move. Its Republican ag commissioner, backed by its Chamber of Commerce, is campaigning to legalize hemp farming there, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is cosponsoring a national bill with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden to take hemp off the controlled substance list.

As Bowman puts it: "Can we just stop being stupid?" To help move us in that direction, he's seeking 100,000 signatures on a online petition requesting that President Obama include the words "industrial hemp" in his Feb. 12 State of the Union speech. I'm sure the president would appreciate my advice on this, so I suggest he say: "First thing tomorrow morning, Michelle and I are going to give a symbolic jumpstart to the development of a thriving hemp industry in America by planting a stand of it on the White House lawn."


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ABOUT Jim Hightower
National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

If I remember correctly, the

If I remember correctly, the pot criminalization was a pet project of one Harry Anslinger, who, I believe, was an important figure in the Prohibition of booze. Well, once alcohol was made legal again, good old Harry was out of a job. So, he lobbied to get pot criminalized and he got himself a top job when it was.

I think pot should not be smoked excessively, because I'm still concerned about the health risks of too much tar in your lungs, but the prohibition cannot be justified because pot is harmful to the user, since throwing someone in the clinker with violent criminals is a lot more hazardous to your health. Also, though booze is legal, it's use is a prime factor in many of the gun deaths of family members, and we know that.

I remember a black guy I met in Mexico, years ago, who was from Belize. He expressed a common reaction to pot use when he said, "I just stone dig pot, because when I'm high, I'm mellow, I'm peaceful and like everyone. But when I drink tequila, I get mean, real mean." And he was right about that, and I think it applies to virtually everyone. As a recreational drug MJ has far less negative social effects than booze, any day of the week.

Now is the time, with 2 states showing the way, to push for legalization of this relatively harmless substance and deprive the violent drug cartels of much of their profit, and put our cops to better use trying to prevent or solve burglaries, rapes, and homicides.

When anyone wants to sell a

When anyone wants to sell a given product, one that will be highly addictive, that will be a real money maker, they get the government to make it ILLEGAL, That is the best advertisement ever created. Guess there aren't too many people still around, that saw the effect of making alcohol illegal. It's use went UP, not down.

The Drug dealers are killing each other to eliminate competition, that will stop when, and if, it is made legal. Illegal merchandise always increases demand. scarcity has it's way of making it more valuable. If everyone can grow it in his back yard, Demand will probably go down. guess it's just human nature to want something that's Scarce, take money for instance, or water now that the gas producers have made it seem to be getting scarce. Or when we have drought, water is more valuable. You get the point Make it legal, let the people out of Jail (The built for profit Jails) and provide rehabilitation (thats less costly then incarceration) You know how to do it, get Busy!

Now,everyone will want it. Just look back to the days when alcohol was illegeal

The Only Right Way to

The Only Right Way to Legalize Marijuana in America

The legalization of marijuana is now at hand and we must be very careful how we proceed. The first thing we must do is to offer an accurate perspective on prohibition so we do not make the same mistakes again. Let’s all take two large steps back and look at the big picture. In the late 20’s and 30’s, several states had passed anti-marijuana laws but proponents of marijuana prohibition were trying to get federal prohibition enacted. Two of the most powerful prohibitionists were William Randolph Hearst and Ed DuPont. Hearst was growing pine trees to sell to his newspaper empire as pulp wood and he certainly did not want to compete with hemp fibers. DuPont received a patent in 1929 to produce nylon fibers from oil and of course he had no use for hemp either. As their plan progressed, prohibitionists raised fears that black New Orleans jazz musicians would smoke marijuana and rape white women. The three foundational points on which marijuana prohibition rests are excessive corporate influence in government, governmental corruption and racism. These are the same major problems we are dealing with today in America and marijuana prohibition is making them worse. It never had anything to do with drugs: it was always about hemp.

The next point that needs to be faced is that tobacco and alcohol are the two most dangerous drugs in American society. Together, they kill over half a million people in this country every year and nobody cares. Though marijuana has never been responsible for a single death, we arrest nearly 800,000 people annually for marijuana offenses, and we have been doing so for years. It has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry and it does not keep drugs away from anyone. In the seventy five years since the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937 was enacted, trillions of dollars of after tax income have been systemically extorted from the American people and given to Mexican drug cartels and other terrorists who use this money to do harm to America. The lives of millions of American citizens have been damaged or destroyed by the enforcement of laws that should not exist: laws that were enacted by a bought and paid for government that shouldn’t exist either.

There is a movement in America to legalize marijuana and tax it like alcohol. I am opposed to this for purely financial reasons. I have seen the US marijuana market estimated at $130 billion annually. If we legalize marijuana and tax it we will just be shifting the profits from the Mexican drug cartels to the Wall Street banksters while the consumers will still be paying black market prices for something we can grow for ourselves for free. Consumers won’t be criminals anymore and that is a step in the right direction but we can do better if we get politics and profits completely out of it.

The only right way to legalize marijuana is simple. Anyone in America who has a legal right to buy and consume deadly tobacco and alcohol must have the same legal right to grow and consume marijuana in any quantity without fear of prosecution or persecution by anyone. This includes employers or perspective employers with a urine specimen cup in their hand. All of this is contingent on marijuana users being responsible for themselves at all times, and they are doing that now so I don’t see this as a problem. With this plan in place toward marijuana users, we can forget about marijuana. The black market for marijuana in America will be closed for ever: no one can compete with free. With the money that consumers will save plus the savings from fighting criminal prosecution the little people will have about $200 billion a year in their pockets to spend on goods and services on the open market. This will stimulate the economy from the bottom up and help the people at the bottom of the food chain first.

Now we can start thinking about hemp, which is where the real money is. We need to get the nation’s farmers growing as much hemp as possible. It sits there in the field all summer sucking CO2 out of the air and producing more oxygen than any other plant of comparable size. At the end of the season, we can make ethanol from the leaves, which will allow us to feed the nation’s corn supply to cattle thus producing beef that poor people can afford again. The stalks produce the strongest natural fiber known. Every plastic product we can replace with a hemp product will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and the hemp product will break down in the land fill in a fraction of the time as their plastic predecessors. The seeds are very high in amino acids, which are very nutritious and this is what we know about the plant now. Bear in mind, it is illegal for the research scientists to possess it too. We could create a whole new industry and millions of good paying jobs.

All of these are good reasons to legalize marijuana but the most important reason is freedom. We must face the reality that the United States government isn’t waging war on marijuana. They are waging war on the American people. In a war, the opposing forces are referred to as enemies. Any legislative body that passes an appropriations bill to fund the so called “war on marijuana” is giving aid and comfort to America’s enemies. The U. S. Constitution defines the giving of aid and comfort to America’s enemies as treason. So this is not about people being high: it is about people being free. No nation is free so long as its government wages war on its citizens. When marijuana is free, America will be free.

Right on Herb. The fascist

Right on Herb. The fascist corporate oligarchy seeks to control the lives of Americans by entangling them in the corrupt justice system, keeping them ignorant by dumbing down public education and cutting resources, and making them sick by enticing them with processed food and tasty GMO's, thereby enslaving them to a corrupt corporate controlled health system, whose goal is to keep people sick and beholden to chemical drugs which will only make them sicker and eventually kill them, but enriching the corporate coffers in the process. Government agencies that are supposed to protect the public from harm (FDA, Ag Dept, etc.) are mere rubber stamps for the corporate octupus that has infiltrated and corrupted every part of government, from the legislative to executive to the justice system. Our food, water, and air are poisoned for profit, the public mere collateral damage for a corporate oligarchy controlled by demented, sick sociopaths who have no regard for life on this planet, and are hell bent on sucking every drop of oil and controlling all resources and destroying the planet for profit. Citizens United decision is just the nail in the coffin for what shreds were left of our democracy (actually we have a Republic, not a representative democracy.) These greedy, drooling maniacs don't give a rat's ass about the legacy or planet they will leave to their grandchiildren . It is all about short term profit versus a sustainable habitable planet where everyone is entitled to the opportunity to live free and healthy with clean air, water, and soil. Unless the People take back our 'democracy', we are doomed. The leaders and fat cats surely won't roll over easy, but
WE HAVE NO CHOICE. Or the party's over, kids.

Right ON!!!!! Finally

Right ON!!!!! Finally someone who makes sense. The big question is, who's making the money off it being illegal??? Correction Corporation of America for one!

Oh Suegie, CCA is just the

Oh Suegie, CCA is just the tip of the iceberg. I have smoked for 42 years. Figure $100 a week times 52 weeks times 42 years, then multiply that times the number of other smokers in America. No wonder the middle class is dying!

Correct me if I'm wrong, I

Correct me if I'm wrong, I believe that at one time it was required that farmers devote some measure of heir cultivated land to hemp. It was a a national security issue rope being essential to the functioning of the Navy.

The word canvas is a contraction of the word cannabis.

The First American flag was stitched of hemp derived canvas. (Modern flags are made from oil products and with a few exceptions are made in China. Great symbology).

The laws proscribing marijuana came within just a few years of the repeal of Prohibition. It was a convenient bogey man for the now under-employed G-men to chase around. There is no other rational that holds up to scrutiny. The public health arguments were bogus then and are more evidently bogus now.

It s long overdue for common sense to prevail in our stance about drugs. In a nation where the manufacture of prescription drugs is like the second largest industry in terms of earnings, we are still at "war" against drugs(?). Most of the overdoses and most of the abuse of drugs involves prescriptions drugs, (just ask rush limbaugh), not pot. Most of the arrests and incarceration involve illegal drugs. And while I have no doubt that the drug cartels along the border will find some other nefarious activity to keep them busy, taking pot out of the equation deprives them of one of their commodities and gets them the hell out of the National Forests along with their pollution and armed mooks.

Take a piece of cloth made of

Take a piece of cloth made of hemp, a strong light weight renewable organic fiber made by nature, and a piece of cloth made of nylon, a strong light weight synthetic fiber made from limited supplies of crude oil and chemicals.
Put one in your pipe and smoke it with little side effects. Put the other in your pipe and smoke it and you'll have cancer causing lung damage.

"So why are American farmers

"So why are American farmers today prohibited from producing this patriotic, profitable, pesticide-free plant?"

1) Because petroleum intensive "agriculture" pumps up the corporate bottom lines of the most powerful corporations on Earth

2) Because legalizing MJ would be a major hit to the GDP by going a long way to emptying out the jails and prisons -- thus costing the criminal-injustice complex (cops, judges, clerks, lawyers, guards and feeder systems and banks) PLENTY!

You're absolutely right. It

You're absolutely right. It has always been about money. They don't really care if your children smoke pot or not as long as the system makes money on it.

One of the first Republicans,

One of the first Republicans, Abe Lincoln once said,"nothing finer than rocking on my front porch and smoking my sweet hemp."

Legalizing industrial hemp

Legalizing industrial hemp would be a de facto legalization of marijuana as anyone growing one could go the other intermingled with it and it would be quite difficult to distinguish the two except on close examination.

That said, I'm all for it. A new cash crop, a boost to American industry, any number of possible new medicines....where is the down side? Oh, yes...organized crime would lose one of its major sources of profit and some "drug cartels" might have to find legitimate work.

We can do far better than the current system of prohibition in complete defiance of common sense.

I saw a video about people

I saw a video about people building hourses w/ Hemp in South Africa. It was cheaper than using wood and practically everything can be made from it. This would bring the cost of homes down and bring natural products into our homes that are made of renewable and recyclable material into our environment.
The use of Hemp is traditional in our country and our farmers deserve the ability to raise and sell it.
If it was good enough for Jefferson and Washington why not for today's farmers? If it was good enough to use for the first draft of the Constitution and for sails for the Ironside why not now.
The use of plastics has taken over a lot of products and yet Hemp is still used all over the world. Plastics come from Oil and that is not a renewable resource. Hemp is.
Going Green is good. Tell your Congressional Rep and Senator that this restricion needs to be removed.

True & correct at heart,

True & correct at heart, despite a botanical error: Hemp IS Marijuana. There are several strains, & C sativa is strong in long fibre, weak in psychoactives (NOT inert); C indica is the reverse. Without regular hybridization, both tend to revert to a median form in several generations.

Why any form of hemp should

Why any form of hemp should be illegal? Is it because the alcohol/tobacco/drug industries are scared of losing fish in the barrels, or negative impact of hemp? Documents prove that alcohol, tobacco, guns kill people. Are there any stats. on how many people died from hemp? Logic would dictate outlawing guns, tobacco and alcohol but legalizing hemp. But as it happened with alcohol powered cars' demise in favor of Standard Oil and the subsequent poisoning of the planet, we have so called leaders who are bought by moneybags to keep them on pile of cash by making laws that benefit the 1% at the expense of the 99%. This will not change unless the 1% has an angle to make money out of new substances as well.... So let's find an angle for the 1% to make more money out of hemp than they can make out of the current commodities.... Unfortunately, that is not possible. So, back to square one....

I've got an idea..... Let's

I've got an idea..... Let's tax the 1% until they aren't the 1% anymore. I say let's institute a 100% tax on everything over..... Oh, let's be generous and say $450M. Once you hit that summit.... the rest goes to taxes. I know that sounds like socialism because it is. So what. The system we now live with is better?

You are right. If the 1%

You are right. If the 1% court says corporations are like people then let's tax them like people.

By that same twisted,

By that same twisted, ignorant, and ridiculous "reefer madness" logic of lumping industrial hemp in with "schedule 1" controlled substances, every mushroom in the U.S. should also be illegal because one particular variety has hallucinogenic properties within it.

Pot also should be legal for people to imbibe with their own personal free-will.

All "crimes" where the perpetrator is also the "victim" should be abolished.

After all, it's no ones business to stick their fragile and/or arrogant little egos nose into everyone else' free-will choices, when it's their inalienable free-will right to choose what they want to do in the privacy of their own reality, to themselves.

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