Hemp is currently one of the most misunderstood plants on the planet. It wasn’t always like that, though.
Industrial hemp has been used for thousands of years, for food, textiles, building, and medicine. In the early part of the 1900s machinery was being developed to make hemp processing easier and more efficient. This was a threat to the paper, chemical, timber, and petroleum industries. Pharmaceutical companies were creating new medicines and drugs, and were also threatened by the natural healing properties of the plant we know as hemp.
Because the timber, petroleum, and chemical investments were threatened, propaganda was then spread to make people believe that it was a ‘drug’ and was ‘evil’, causing people to display horrendous acts of violence, all of which were untrue. (To read more about this, please see my post titled Why U.S. Hemp Farming Was Banned.)
Hemp was classified as a drug, due to it’s cousin (marijuana, the plant with THC). Hemp, of course, has very minute amounts of THC and is strictly grown for food (seeds and oil) and fiber.
In 1938 a movie was released titled Reefer Madness (you can see it on Youtube by following this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54xWo7ITFbg). This film, while mainly falsely portraying marijuana as a dangerous drug that induces crime and violence, portrayed hemp and marijuana as being in the same class – a narcotic.
Hearst’s newspapers continued with the propaganda, and subsequently the word ‘hemp’ was automatically labeled as being evil drug; that belief has continued today.
This is where this post takes a personal turn. I have spoken loudly and often on the benefits of hemp – for nutrition, medicine, textiles, housing, fuel, etc. I have spoken personally with people who visibly recoiled when I mentioned the word hemp. I have had people remove me from their Facebook friend lists and Twitter feeds. That’s ok, because I have no judgment whatsoever about that. It will not keep me from talking and teaching.
I have made it my personal mission to continue to learn and educate about the benefits of hemp. Ok, how many people do you know who, when they hear or see the word hemp, visualize the wild 60s with ‘flower power’ painted on the sides of their cars, celebrating and partaking in marijuana? Ok, maybe not too many anymore. And don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a beautiful thing! However, I would also like to see people embracing this plant that has so much to offer without instant judgment and aversion.
Hemp is becoming more accepted and used and as long as we keep sharing the benefits, and work toward educating those who are willing to open, learn, and understand, there will be less stigma and revulsion attached to the plant that could, literally, save this planet – economically and environmentally – and improve our health and help treat and cure our diseases.