Friday, October 1, 2010


Cannabis is a plant. Not too different from most other plants. It has it good points and its bad points. The father of our country George Washington praised the plant. "Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!" he is reputed to have said.

The most resourceful crop on earth, cannabis yields industrial hemp for canvas, oil, fiber, and paper among other things; a harmless medicine for gravely ill individuals; and a source of recreation for millions of people around the world. Hemp is one of the faster growing biomass known, producing up to 25 tons of dry matter per hectare per year, and one of the earliest domesticated plants known. For a crop, hemp is very environmentally friendly; it requires few pesticides and no herbicides.

The federal government, God bless them, has decreed that cannabis is a danger to society and against the law to grow. The current paradigm is that cannabis is a health risk for the average citizen. The plant’s flower, after drying and rolled into a cigarette form, much like tobacco, can be smoked. The government deems it to cause great harm to the person who inhales the smoke. So it belongs on the list of dangerous substances right up there with cocaine, heroin and opium. Of course we know the cannabis flower as marijuana.

Both the user and seller can be and often are subjected to prosecution and in a great many instances sentenced to jail. In fact the majority of inmates of our prisons are there for marijuana related crimes sometimes as innocent as having possession of the flower.

However the list of poisonous plants is quite lengthy. Even the seeds of the ubiquitous apple are poisonous if consumed in sufficient quantities. Not to mention the caster beans which are very poisonous and can be fatal to children? But only the lowly cannabis is singled out for burning and destruction and not the others. Ordinary tobacco plants are not only allowed but the government via the agricultural department provides help in its cultivation. While it is accepted that tobacco does not act as a sedative and produce a feeling somewhat related to alcohol use as cannabis does habitual smokers would say otherwise.

Perhaps it is simply because like opium its effect is pleasant and enjoyable.

Early governments in the USA were often the product of the religious community and anxious to make laws to prevent the population from engaging in sin which often as not was related to joyful enterprises. The early Calvinists in New England forbid dancing; singing and even celebrating Christmas; only work and bible reading were condoned. Some vestiges of this mentality have stayed with us until even today. When people are having fun make them stop. I remember when I was a child there was a saying that if you laughed too much it was a sign that some bad thing was about to happen to you. How often are police called when the local tavern or watering hole patrons are singing and dancing and the noise, cheerful and loud disturbs the locals?

Not only do we not allow cannabis growth in the USA but we prohibit it other countries as well. I often wonder why we never had a campaign to burn all the grain fields in Scotland during prohibition since the grain could be used for alcohol production. Perhaps because Mr. Kennedy had secured the exclusive rights to import scotch whiskey?

Of course we do burn fields of opium and marijuana in places like Afghanistan, Columbia and other South American countries today. I am forbidden here in Florida to grow cannabis even though I have no intention of smoking it. But I can grow as many caster bean plants as I choose. It’s okay to grow something that may kill you or your pet or your grandchildren; that will teach them a lesson, but nothing that may, if smoked, make you feel wonderful. I’m sure that if a less pleasant way was invented to procreate the early Calvinists would have prohibited sex.

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