It’s not easy being green. There are people who make a lot of money by keeping cannabis and its cousin hemp illegal. The smear campaign has been going on for more than 80 years, so it’s been an uphill battle fighting the propaganda of the powerful.
Hemp is a wonderful, renewable source of durable fiber for clothes, ropes, and paper, as well as human and animal food and medicine, and so much more. It’s a value-packed resource. It’s easily replenished and a very hardy plant that grows abundantly in a variety of environments. So, naturally, our government has made it illegal. You’re welcome, China and Canada (the world’s two top hemp-producing nations).
Follow the money
Who makes the most money because the cannabis and hemp plants are illegal? That’s a tough one to answer, but if you factor in jobs, power, and profit, law enforcement and its veritable alphabet of agencies are strong contenders.
The DEA, FDA, ATF, FBI, and your local PD all depend heavily on the “Drug War” and especially cannabis. Hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on the ongoing Drug War. Seizures, impounds, and fines provide billions of dollars of income. Whether they address the actual problem of drug use is another matter.
It can be costly to get caught with cannabis. Depending on the circumstances, it can be anywhere from a pain in the neck to losing your car, your house, your boat, and ending up in jail and/or paying fines. And while there are a few states that have legalized cannabis for discretionary use, technically it’s still considered a federal crime. As such, there is always the very real danger that even legal businesses that dispense the herb to patients can be raided and have their assets seized.
The prison system is becoming increasingly privatized and makes plenty of tax money off each inmate. Corporations understandably would much rather house non-violent folks arrested for cultivation, possession, and sale of cannabis than murderers and rapists. It’s easier and safer.
Pick up a new paper
Converting trees to paper requires a plethora of toxic chemicals. Wood is not white, so chlorine and bleach are used to whiten the pulp. Over three million tons of chlorine are dumped into our waterways annually, with the paper industry being the largest contributor. Chlorine is a confirmed source of the carcinogen dioxin, which is linked to cancer, liver failure, birth defects, miscarriages, and many more harmful effects.
Hemp, on the other hand, can be whitened with hydrogen peroxide which is relatively harmless compared to chlorine and bleach. In addition, it takes a long time to grow trees to paper-making size, while hemp grows much faster and can be harvested multiple times per year.
As an extra added benefit, hemp paper also lasts longer. Paper made from wood pulp yellows with age; hemp paper does not. It also disintegrates more slowly. So, with demand for paper still skyrocketing despite the widespread use of the internet and e-mail, why is it still illegal to grow? That’s easy. Because the timber industry makes more money that way.
Hemp fiber makes fine, breathable textiles and works as well as nylon for most applications. So why is it still illegal? Because duPont and other large plastic-making corporations make more money that way.
Down on the pharm
And, of course, drug companies are terrified of cannabis being legalized. Consuming the herb provides a wide variety of potential health benefits, outside the profit realm of the medical and pharmaceutical industry. So it’s still illegal, because the drug industry makes more money that way.
Most cancer patients who die during chemotherapy die of chemo, not cancer. Chemo works in approximately two percent of cases. Cannabis has cancer-killing properties. Now, it doesn’t treat all cancers or all patients, but breast, prostate, and many other prevalent types have been studied, and cannabis has had great success. Cannabinoids THC and CBD (cannabidiol) not only kill cancer cells, but also aid in slowing tumor growth and metastasis (spreading). As a side bonus, cannabis has never killed anyone.
Cannabis also shows great promise in addressing not only glaucoma caused by diabetes, but diabetes itself. Add to that the scientifically accepted use of cannabis to treat pediatric and adult epilepsy, chronic pain caused by inflammation, nerve pain, digestive conditions, and so much more. These chronic conditions are “normally” treated by opioids or other synthetic drugs, representing uncountable billions of dollars lost to cannabis by pharmaceutical companies.
Crime does pay
Illegal crime syndicates are some of the best organized and connected lobbyists. They will stop at nothing to have their way. Bribery and death are just part of their game. The drug cartels have actually adapted the best, being willing to shift their inventory to other products. But make no mistake, they want cannabis to remain illegal. As long as it’s illegal, it’s quite literally a “cash” crop for black market dealers, who care nothing about quality, brand reputation, or the nation’s youth.
All this holds significant sway over our politicians. They get elected by being “tough on crime” but get paid by lobbyists. The lumber, plastic, law enforcement, pharmaceutical, and crime industries all have ways to get their wills enacted, often at the expense of the people.
The excuse that has been used to ban hemp production is that the plant is first cousin to the cannabis plant. Some strains of cannabis are comprised of over 30 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), unlike hemp, which has only scant traces of the psychoactive compound. The powers that be have decided that THC is so bad that even plants without it are off limits. (Apparently, since it’s a mood booster, it’s got to be banned. Unlike other medical mood “boosters” like Xanax or Ritalin, which both just happen to be on this list of 9 Most Addictive Prescription Drugs.)
Change the times
Now more than half a century since Bob Dylan wrote “The times, they are a-changin’”, they finally are, with respect to cannabis freedom. (At least in some parts of the country.) Many Americans have tried it, liked it and (*gasp*) not died from it, or even gotten sick, or let their life slip away on the sofa playing video games and guzzling Doritos. It’s becoming rarer by the day for an American not to have read about or spoken to someone who’s had a positive experience with medical cannabis. It’s important that we keep the conversation going and keep informing the public when new studies come out.
Want to pitch in? You can help by sharing posts, talking with your families and neighbors, and letting your elected leaders know that legalization is important to you. Together, we can make this green plant with so many wonderful properties available to those who need and want it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amber Boone considers writing the cornerstone of communication. She interviews MMA (mixed martial arts) athletes for CombatPress.com and opines on MMA at FightItOut.com. 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.