Pendulums swing. It’s what they do. They move in space from side to side, and even though pendulums in grandfather clocks can seemingly simulate perpetual motion, they still need winding to keep moving.

Human nature is like a pendulum. As a species, we tend to oscillate from one side of an issue to another. Prevailing attitudes are in reaction to the previous prevailing attitudes. Cars get bigger and smaller, hair and hemlines get longer and shorter. Constant change is the only constant. The same holds true for substance prohibition: the obsessive compulsion—indulged by people with a controlling mindset—to force behavioral change on individuals en masse, to replace their private vices with virtue, by depriving them of things they want or need.

10,000 years of testing

Hemp cord in pottery discovered at the ruins of an ancient village on the island of modern-day Taiwan dates to around 8000 B.C. This find places hemp among the first known crops ever cultivated by humans. (Cannabis sativa literally means “cultivated hemp”.) The first record of medicinal use comes from China in 2727 B.C. Since then, the seeds of cannabis and hemp have been spread all over the globe. Cannabis in particular has been used medicinally and ceremonially in all corners of the world for millennia, especially Asia.

China also holds the record for earliest known alcohol, dating to about 7000 B.C. As we all know, its use has been well documented in every civilization as well. Fermented grapes, rice, and other plant products can all make wine, which has been consumed by the masses and the nobility since the beginning of civilization.

For thousands of years, alcohol and cannabis lived peacefully, side by side, each being consumed by many millions of humans over the years. Around A.D. 900, Arabic scholars debated as to the pros and cons of eating hashish, a much stronger product of cannabis flowers. Despite the debate, cannabis and hashish use continued to spread across the Middle East.

The pendulum swings

It didn’t spread without controversy, though. Leaders of each dynasty had differing views on the appropriateness of hashish and alcohol, especially in the Middle East. Persian kings, Egyptian princes, and Islamic mullahs have all voiced stern opposition to any type of intoxicant, cannabis and alcohol included. Even today, carrying alcohol into Saudi Arabia carries the death penalty. “Civilization” is, clearly, a relative term.

Use of hemp preceded cannabis consumption in western Europe, the former being found near what is now Berlin as early as 500 B.C. The non-psychoactive sister of cannabis became a staple of European civilization, for making clothes, rope, sails, and other essentials that allowed Europeans to eventually circumnavigate the globe. (Without hemp, who knows how long it would have taken them to find the New World?)

Welcome to Reefer Madness, the Prologue

Once those European explorers had picked their way to Asia, cannabis and hashish became a staple of trade between the civilizations. Use of the herb was met with open arms by some (especially royalty) and with contempt and fear by others, notably the middle class. British clergy were afraid that women and the Irish wouldn’t be able to control their use of exotic plants, like tea, cannabis, and hashish. (Welcome to Reefer Madness, the Prologue.) Despite the concerns, hemp was always considered essential. And, people were allowed to consume cannabis and tea, along with hashish, morphine, snuff, and tobacco.

Hemp was actually a mandatory crop for farmers to cultivate in Virginia, Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts in the 1600s, to help make a new nation self-sufficient. It remained a vital crop through the 1800s. But when the pendulum swung, and Prohibition spread across the land, industrial hemp was irrationally lumped in with cannabis, alcohol, and other drugs. After Prohibition 1.0 ended, government agents, suddenly left with nothing to punish, promptly sparked up 2.0—a huge “drag” on American freedom.

Back and forth

The cultivation of hemp and cannabis was outlawed in 1937, as Americans were brainwashed to be afraid that women, Mexicans, and black men wouldn’t be able to control their use. Overnight, a fantastic source of food, renewable energy, and industrial-strength fiber suddenly became taboo. For five years, that is, until the pendulum temporarily swung back, and the federal government began wheedling and cajoling farmers to please grow “Hemp for Victory”.

Did you know that diesel engines were designed to be able to run on vegetable and seed oil? Henry Ford even had a biofuel plant at the turn of the 20th century. Then cannabis and hemp were demonized as one profoundly evil entity. (The two are like breeds of dog: the same species, but bred to be very different from one another.) The winners ever since have been the companies that supply oil, and countless other products, NOT made from the cannabis plant.

For around 100 years the use of hemp and cannabis has been discouraged by both the powers that be and most of the population of the United States. But the pendulum is swinging back in the direction of common sense and freedom, because the people are becoming better informed.

Cannabis is a very low-risk, high-reward pain reliever, appetite stimulant, and anti-inflammatory. No one ever died from an overdose of cannabis, unlike many of the toxic drugs marketed by the pharmaceutical industry. So why is it illegal to grow in most of the US?

Hemp is a sustainable energy source, a tree-sparing substitute for making paper, and even better for the environment than growing cotton. So why is it illegal to grow in most of the US?

Money?! No way!


Money. Plain and simple. Entrenched industries worry about cash flow first, last, and always. The makers of products like beer, synthetic fiber, synthetic drugs, gasoline, cotton cloth, and paper from trees only care about the environment in their own back yard. The short-term bottom line is more important than the long-term future. Hemp and cannabis are a threat to their stranglehold on the marketplace. But, the people are catching on. The pendulum is swinging.

Information about the health benefits of cannabis as medicine, cannabis being a safer social relaxant preferred by many over alcohol, and the herb’s incredibly low overall risk profile all point to legalization. Hemp’s unmatched versatility and the indefensible, un-American ban on its production make it another arrow in our quiver. As the people become more informed, the pendulum swings further and faster, the overturning of the ban on the twin plants becoming ever more inevitable.

The people refuse to be hoodwinked into senseless Prohibition any longer. Especially with their health—and the health of the planet—at stake.

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Amber Boone considers writing the cornerstone of communication. She interviews MMA (mixed martial arts) athletes for and opines on MMA at She’s passionate about helping folks tell their stories and making the world a better place, which includes working to win the freedom of Americans to partake of the herb. When not writing or playing beach volleyball, she can be found at her day job—for now. Follow Amber on Twitter @thruthetrees11.