You don’t have to inhale. You don’t even have to put it in your mouth. We don’t need it for recreational use, we need it for work, jobs, and a more productive Mississippi. Our great agricultural state needs to take the lead in Industrial Hemp production. And we need to do it quickly.
The New York Times has been running some interesting articles about legalization of marijuana- the inhaling kind. Longtime Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon told the crowd at the Neshoba County Fair Wednesday that he predicts marijuana will be legalized in Mississippi within the next decade. Now, we know Governor Bryant won’t allow that while he’s in the mansion, but we can hope Bryant may see the benefit in Industrial Hemp before it is too late to get ahead of the curve.
There is a difference between the recreational stuff and the stuff that could really change our future: a big difference based on potency. The term ‘marijuana’ refers to the medicinal, recreational or spiritual use involving the smoking of cannabis flowers. Industrial hemp contains only about 0.3% to 1.5% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinoids, the intoxicating ingredients that make you high) while marijuana contains about 5% to 10%, or more, THC.
Hemp fiber is the longest, strongest and most durable of all natural fibers. Hemp was a dominant crop on the American landscape, refined for various industrial applications, including paper and textiles. In fact, our U.S. Constitution was drafted on Hemp Paper. Thomas Jefferson loved the stuff. Our Founding Fathers did some of their best work on Hemp.
Over time, the use of industrial hemp has evolved into an even greater variety of products, including health foods, organic body care, clothing, construction materials, bio-fuels, plastic composites. Industrial Hemp is a major crop in throughout Europe, Canada, and Asia.
It grows in just about any soil, requires no pesticides, and needs little maintenance. No tree or plant can produce more paper, per acre than Hemp and it creates much less pollution.
Hemp has long been considered a threat to paper, timber, and the petroleum industries and their lobbying power has been able to prolong Hemp’s status as a pariah crop. Hemp Conspiracists blame Andrew Mellon and the Dupont family for making it illegal to grow Hemp under the Hoover Administration, banning it as a competitive threat more than a drug threat. Just in case anyone thought our capitalist system was about competition. Andrew Mellon was Secretary of the Treasury at the time and the Mellon Bank was major investor in Dupont Chemical. Mellon even appointed a family member to Head a newly created Bureau of Narcotics designed specifically to destroy hemp production in the U.S.
But less than 10 years later, we needed Hemp desperately. The Japanese had cut off our supply from Asia, and farmers were encouraged to grow loads of Hemp during WWII as part of the Defense Department’s “Hemp for Victory” Campaign. It produced rope for Navy towlines, mesh and webbing for parachutes, and laces for the boots on the ground. American Hemp defeated Hitler.
In the interest of fairness, let’s consider Mary Jane’s alternative use just in case the High-THC advocating Cannabis Crew takes the cause for Industrial Hemp a bit too far.
Gateway drug? Sure it is, but let’s make one thing clear about drug use. Other than the fact that far too many people do it, regular use denotes a “soul problem.” It is a “soul problem” no different than regular runs to KFC or any other fast food joint, which keeps your spouse awake with your snoring and clogs up your arteries. Those unhealthy-eating “soul problems” also create enormous healthcare costs for your family and your state, unless you kick the bucket-of-extra-crispy right away. Then you just have to pay funeral costs.
Other “soul problems” include gambling, overspending on designer clothing, energy drinks, SEC football or over sharing on Facebook, which may be as lethal as crack cocaine. No matter, “Soul problems” such as these don’t go away when you make them illegal. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be saddled with the costly drug war and the numerous incarcerations and deaths associated with it. As Nancy Reagan said, we should teach our children, as well as ourselves, to just say “NO” when it comes to such drugs.
Because of our nation’s obsession for drug criminalization coupled with our psycho-neurotic demand for recreational drugs and our willingness to pay both top dollar and through the nose, thousands of children are crawling to our border to escape drug gangs and cartels that run much of Central America. Our nation will be burdened with this problem until our drug policy becomes a health concern and not a criminal issue.
But back to our cause: low-THC Industrial Hemp production for paper, textiles, construction materials, and food. Mississippi needs to say “YES” and soon before Florida or Alabama lifts the banner for “King Hemp.”
» David Dallas is a political writer. He worked for former U.S. Sen. John Stennis and authored Barking Dawgs and A Gentleman from Mississippi.