Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Lamplighter

In between my quaffing martinis and arduous lounging, I have been writing a column called "Green by Proxy" for the Lamplighter about how said laziness is difficult to maintain when married to the Greenest Man on Earth. In between the complaints and the punchlines there actually is a helpful sentence or two on how to greenify your existence. I'd love to provide a link to my latest entry, but that Lamplighter is SO green that they don't even want to waste space on the interweb with all the linkage.

But I don't have a problem with wasting space. Here is September's entry.


GREEN BY PROXY
by Melissa Anderson Sweazy

"Green Acres"

Just so we’re clear: I’m about as counter-cultural as Donna Reed. I live in midtown, but I’m still not exactly sure what a roach clip is or why anyone willingly places tie-dye on or even near their body. I want to trust the folks in charge. If the sky were to start falling, I would be likely to just curl up in the lap of Uncle Sam, a compliant little lamb who just wants to be told that everything will be okay. So no one was more surprised than me when I found myself encouraging Caleb’s dream of adding hemp farmer to his varied resume.


Every few months or so my husband would declare that he wanted to grow hemp, I would roll my eyes, and the balance that keeps our earth from spinning off its axis remained so. He would launch into an impassioned defense of the much maligned crop, explaining that it had thousands of uses, was easy on the land and – most importantly – lacked the chemicals or THC its cousin marijuana has to provide the high. The only thing I knew about hemp is that Woody Harrelson likes it a lot, he of the flavored oxygen bars and prodigious love of smoking some herb. Hemp, like marijuana, isn’t grown in this country without permits, so by extension, hemp – and Woody Harreslon - must be evil, right?

So I was a little confused when I found hemp milk on the shelf at my local Kroger. Having just weaned the kiddo, I was desperate to find her something to drink. She hated cows milk. It hated her. Soy with its suspect pseudo estrogen was out. Rice milk didn’t contain the fat necessary for brain development. And then there was hemp milk, right there on the shelf next to the Rice Dream. Made by Living Harvest, the packaging explained that it was brimming with protein and omega-3s and even came in chocolate and vanilla. Harlow loved it. Did a dance, sang, and performed tricks for her “ba-ba” loved it. When I mentioned to friends how much she loved it I’d get the same jokey “well – she must reeeaally like it,” response, the stretched syllables taking on a Cheech and Chongish inflection. And then I’d laugh, because the idea of my toddler getting stoned off of her daily sippy cup is perversely funny and because, according to DEA policies, it seems that is exactly what they believe could happen.

Now I was really confused. Hemp, I discovered after no small amount of research, is an amazing plant. In the early twentieth century it was the United States’ primary source for rope and sails. (Hemp comes from the Arabic word meaning canvas) With over 25,000 uses (everything from rope to paper to waffles), it’s truly the greenest of plants. It is biodegradable and an excellent rotation crop. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers, and hemp even provided the paper Jefferson used to draft the Declaration of Independence. But what it is not is a narcotic. Hemp (cannabis satvia) is in the cannabis family, but at the reunion it’s the bookish type in the corner while its wild cousin arrives on the motorcycle with the pregnant teenaged girlfriend. Because of its trace amounts of THC, it is impossible to achieve the high from smoking hemp. If grown in the same field as marijuana, hemp will choke its wilder cousin (jealous much?) and drastically reduce its THC content. So it would seem that the DEA was just misinformed, a bit hasty in declaring hemp an offender equally as heinous as marijuana. Right?

According to current policies, hemp is technically legal to grow in the United States but a permit to do so must be obtained first through the DEA – and there lies the catch-22. The Controlled Substances Act unequivacly equates marijuana with hemp, and despite legislature passed in states such as North Dakota that licenses their farmers to grow hemp, the DEA has yet to comply. Dave Monson, the first North Dakotan to receive such a license has since sued the DEA. When not farming, Mr. Monson is a high school principal and a State Representative – as a Republican. Not exactly a countercultural trouble maker. But such stubborn resistance is not a new trend.

According to pro-hemp literature, publisher tycoon William Randolph Hearst used his newspapers to report on the dangerous link between hemp and marijuana in the 1930s. Mr. Hearst had millions invested in timber forests, and these news reports circulated at the same time a machine had been invented that simplified making paper from hemp. In 1937, Dupont patented nylon rope, the same year that also saw the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act, inextricably linking hemp to marijuana and destroying the hemp industry. So it would seem that big businesses might actually depend on hemp’s unfairly sullied reputation to keep it from becoming a competing cash crop. But then, that would be awfully counter-cultural of me to suggest so. Visit votehemp.com for more information.

1 comment:

PrankCrank said...

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