Ecological Savior

Decriminalize, Industrialize and Commercialize:
Three Ways to a Brighter Future

canabis

Denese Coulbeck

Did you know that there is a plant that if commercialized, could save the planet (us) from acid rain, global warming, and the depletion of our precious forests and fossil fuels. This plant is also capable of providing sufficient clothing, oil, medicine, fuel, food, and shelter for all of us -- and I mean all the world's people.

Cannabis hemp has been grown for thousands of years for cordage and cloth in China and elsewhere in the East. Virtually every city and town in the world had an industry making hemp rope. Since 1750, Russia has been the world's largest producer and best quality manufacturer of hemp. It was used in the manufacture of a sealant against salt water, as well as nets, sails, flags, and ropes used on ships.

Textiles and fabrics for clothes, tents, linens, rugs, drapes, quilts, bedding, and towels were made from hemp fibers because of its advantages over cotton: it's softer, warmer, stronger, and more durable. Cotton became cheaper to produce with the invention of the cotton gin but hemp continued to be the second most used natural fiber.

Cannabis hemp has been used as a medicine for at least 3,000 years.

Research has demonstrated that it is safe and effective in the treatment of many health problems including asthma, glaucoma, epilepsy, anorexia, and stress, to name a few. The leaves can be brewed into a tea or extracts made from the buds, leaves, or roots.

The seed of this plant is a complete source of vegetable protein. It can be sprouted and used in salads, ground into meal for cereal, or pressed into oil, which produces a high-protein seed cake that can be used like tofu, or used as animal feed.

One acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fiber pulp as four acres of trees and is perfect for particle board and concrete forms. It has been used throughout history for carpet backing, paints and varnishes, and could be used in plastic pipe. It could replace drywall and plywood if used in a process which applies heat and compression to agricultural fiber to create strong paneling.

Well, that gives you an idea of how hemp can be used for clothing, medicine, food, and shelter. It can provide sufficient fuel and oil as well.

Biomass conversion is a process which applies high heat to organic material to make charcoal. Cannabis has more cellulose than cornstalks, sugar cane, or trees, making it earth's #1 biomass resource.

Experts agree that 90% of all fossil fuel used in the world today (coal, oil, natural gas, etc.) should long ago have been replaced with biomass.

A shift to the use of biomass would cleanse our air, end sulfur-based smog, and reverse the planet's atmospheric carbon dioxide imbalance. Using biomass fuel is different than using up our fossil fuel reserves because biomass comes from living plants that remove carbon dioxide pollution as they grow, through photosynthesis. Biomass fuels do not contain sulfur, which is the primary cause of acid rain.

Hemp seed contains 30% oil and this oil has been made into fuel oil throughout history. It makes high grade diesel fuel oil, and aircraft engine and precision machine oil. Biomass conversion, in addition to producing charcoal, can be adjusted to produce oils for fuel, or methanol, which can be converted to gasoline.

Paper made from long-lasting hemp enabled the Oriental people to accumulate and pass on their knowledge for generations. It lasted longer than papyrus and was easier and cheaper to make. The problem of dioxin contamination of the rivers is avoided, as chlorine bleach, which wood pulp papermaking requires is safely replaced by hydrogen peroxide when using hemp.

But we no longer live in a plant-matter-based economy. Much of what we come in contact with every day has been made from petrochemicals. Hemp rope has been replaced mostly by petrochemical fibers. "Plastic fibers" such as nylon replaced hemp around 1940. Synthetic petrochemical oils have replaced hemp seed oil. We cut trees to make paper and building materials.

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Yet this plant has literally thousands of critical uses.

It can be grown in virtually any climate or soil condition and reaches a height of 12-20' in a growing season. It could replace the majority of uses of fossil fuels, timber, and petrochemicals. So why is it not in commercial use today? Good question, considering that in 1938, mechanical harvesting equipment became available and it was forecast to be a billion-dollar crop. New jobs producing hemp products -- the end of the Great Depression!

Well, certain businesses such as timber, paper, and large newspaper holding companies stood to lose billions of dollars and possibly go bankrupt if hemp pulp became readily available. Dupont stood to gain enormously from making plastics from oil and coal and paper from wood, processes they had just patented.

Dupont was originally a munitions maker for World War I. Since the process for producing explosives from cellulose is similar to producing synthetic fibers and plastics from cellulose, the US federal government placed much of the textile production for the domestic economy in Dupont's hands. Dupont was allowed to supply synthetic fibers to the domestic economy without competition with the passage of a prohibitive tax, the motive of which was to discourage hemp production rather than raise revenue. This tax came into being in the US in 1937.

Our troubles began in Canada in 1922 when the racist and prohibitionist judge, Emily Murphy, brought the cannabis law into being by declaring that users are immune to pain. "... They become raving maniacs and are liable to kill or indulge in any form of violence to other persons, using the most savage methods of cruelty without, as said before, any sense of moral responsibility" [Murphy, E. (1973). The Black Candle (pp. 332-333). Toronto: Coles]. Her evidence was comprised of sensational, racist newspaper articles compiled from US newspapers run by her friend, W. R. Hearst, portraying Blacks and Mexicans as violent frenzied beasts under the influence of hemp. A blatant lie, this picture more accurately describes the effects of alcohol used to excess. The hidden agenda behind this legislation was racially motivated and targeted Oriental immigrants in Canada, it plundered them. Ms. Murphy apparently believed this prohibition would safeguard white women. It was improperly passed into law without a vote or a referendum during the Christmas holidays in 1922 -- law created to protect and serve special interests.

It seems that the bigger the lie, the more it is believed.

Even the opposite story emerged in the US with a link to a potential Communist takeover, stating that users became peaceful, pacifistic and lost their will to fight -- a great loss to a war-mongering nation like the US that depends on conflict for economic renewal. The deception was deliberate and it continued for about 30 years until cannabis research revealed an incredible therapeutic potential. Although new research is outlawed, cannabis has been shown to be one of the safest drugs known. In fact, there's never been a single death or case of lung cancer due to the use of marijuana and it hasn't been proven that the use of marijuana leads to harder drugs.

The LeDain Commission Report (1972) sponsored by the Canadian Government Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs reported that the debate on non-medical use of cannabis "all too often has been based on hearsay, myth and ill-informed opinion about the effects of the drug."

It's time for us, Canada, to get serious about saving the environment and decriminalize, industrialize, and commercialize cannabis hemp. People's lives are being destroyed or restricted by being branded criminals, and the life of our planet is at stake. England and Holland have adopted policies of tolerance which are more effective and popular than prohibition. Australia recently announced its decision to commercialize hemp. And quite frankly, we don't have much time left. Scientists have predicted world-wide disaster within 30 years if we do not resolve the problems our environment faces. Cannabis can rejuvenate the earth's environment and bolster the economy at the same time.


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