HEMP: CANNABIS SATIVA GROWING IN NEW YORK
(photo) Daby B.Carreras
One issue that Daby might be asked to vote on in Albany is hemp. While not grown in NYC, it is upstate & LI, where permits are given to growers who have low THC varieties. These are often used for rope and textiles, but since the US does not have the infrastructure to produce hemp textiles, most hemp is grown for the seeds and the oil.
This plant certainly has an interesting history, of which I wrote an entire book in 2006. Woody Harrelson joined in by providing a foreword and moral support. The issue is believed by many to belong to the left, but my activism in environmental circles proves otherwise. The left’s involvement was shallow, and often limited to THC varieties known as marijuana.
Medically, those varieties, containing THC and +90 other compounds known as cannabinoids, are of great use to humanity. Two groups oppose medical marijuana; one is big pharma, which cannot exploit it for patents, and the other is the drug dealing community, which is greedy and wants to sell a cheap product for much money.
Hemp is believed to have originated in China, where it is called ‘MA’. For millenia it was used for rope and textiles in the East. The first paper fragments ever made still exist, and contain hemp. Almost two thousand years’ old, they attest to hemp’s usefulness.
Hemp grows in just about every country, and easily at that, with little or no pesticides.
Much record over the years places it in Europe, in Russia, and possibly in the New World before Europeans arrived. The most common use has been for sails and cordage, with centuries of use in paper making and some use in textiles. Italy led the world in fine hemp clothing, with the Piedmonte region being famous for the quality of Italian hemp. A stamp from the 1950s depicts a woman working with ‘canapa’, the Italian word for hemp, liguistically derived from the word cannabis, which is the Latin name for hemp: Cannabis sativa.
European Celts and Picts were known to have cultivated cannabis, and it is believedthat hemp reached western Europe and the British Isles through these tribes. A study published by Professor Harry Godwin of Cambridge University discusses evidence establishing hemp shortly after the time of Christ, the earliest being a well rope from ca. 140 AD found at Bar Hill, Dunbartonshire.
This was from a Roman fort on the Antoine Wall, and would be consistent with the habit of hemp use by the Roman army. Godwin analyses cannabis pollen samples from Old Buckingham Mere, in Norfolk, and places them at around 400 AD, a time when Anglo-Saxon settlers were
initiating cultivation in England.
(“Hemp for Victory” – cover designed by Sir Cameron)
Hemp was mandated throughout the British Isles, a fact which
allowed the British to take command of the seas.
Napoleon, whose navy was never able to surpass that of the British, tried to undermine
the power of his enemy by asking the Russian czar to stop all sales of hemp to the United
Kingdom. When he met the czar earlier in Europe, they forged their friendship on the basis
of their common hatred of the Brits. “I hate the British as much as you”, the czar told Napoleon;
the Corsican replied that with those words they would ever be friends.
But the czar’s hate of Britain did not last. Russia was at the time the leading supplier of hemp,
and Russia was not about to lose money to please the French. Sales, however, were made discreetly, with British paying middlemen to load the hemp in Archangel and deliver it to Liverpool or London. The French were wise to this ruse, and subsequently, despite much advice against such a move, Napoleon moved 600,000 men towards Moscow in the Spring. The Russian winter came early, and few ever made it back to Paris. The British got all the hemp they wanted, and France never ruled the seas.
Britain’s dependence on foreign hemp had been addressed before these shenanigans; the main reason for such a dependence was that transporting goods by land around the realm was more expensive than maritime transport from far off docks. Parliament debated the wisdom of a dependency upon foreign hemp, and was not the only political body to hold a discussion on domestic hemp vs. Russian hemp. In the United States debates raged in Congress, with the verdict being that the Russian hemp was stronger, and thus the Navy needed to have it despite the desire to use domestic supplies.
Kentucky was the main hemp growing state in America, of which James Lane Allen in his 1900
book “Reign of Law” wrote prosaically. Shortly after that, however, hemp was replaced by other crops; tobacco came to be the main crop in the bluegrass state.
(Photo) UrbanXtracts Farm Warwick, Orange County.NY
Hemp never completely ceased in the US until laws brought about under the guise of
marijuana’ laws made it difficult to grow. Farmers in 1937 had no idea that marijuana even referred to hemp. They did not equate the rather racist diatribes written against marijuana smoking Mexicans in the Hearst press with an attack on hemp, but it was. William Randolph
Hearst, the famous Democrat, twice a congressman for Manhattan, and once a presidential candidate, was a racist and had ties to Adolf Hitler. The farmers were not able to argue against
the Hearst press, so many simply stopped growing what had been a staple crop in the New World for ages.
WWII brought about a call for hemp however, as it was feared that Manila hemp, grown exclusively in the Philippines, might fall into the hands of the Japanese. The US government went on a ‘Hemp for Victory’ campaign, encouraging farmers to grow it.
But not long after the war, the farmers were again prohibited from growing it. In the 1980s the hemp movement in the US was led by marijuana smokers, often writing books that were mainly focused on pot. Jack Herer’s “The Emperor Wears no Clothes” sold over 100,000 copies in many editions, and it was followed by a number of books, mainly by West Coast authors.
In the 1990s, encouraged by my sister Mina Hegaard, I started to look at C. sativa in a different light. Up till then all I knew was that it produced marijuana. But when I studied hemp, I found that for millenia it was primarily a textile/food/oil/medicine crop. Henry Ford had written that it had 25,000 uses. So I decided to research the industrial uses, and write a book without any focus on marijuana. I had never used any drugs, and had no interest in the recreational uses of hemp, but was working with both sides – the recreational users and the industrial users – to present to the public a treatise that would serve as a basis for hemp cultivation.
Presently, this is of great interest to Americans, as dependence on China for goods is out of the question. Under the Trump administration, hemp is legal on the federal level, with each state granted the right to decide on the legality at the state level. Texas, Kentucky, Colorado and a number of other states have made it legal.
Leafing through what I wrote in 2006, I came across the last paragraph in the chapter on North America, which reads like this:
America and Canada are both taking another look at the reasons why hemp was outlawed; the latter, having relegalised its cultivation, is finding a profit from it, and it is hoped that the US will follow suit. Patriotism is one reason for doing this, as overused as that term may be; not that there need be in fact any such dramatic argument, for, as so many Americans have pointed out, hemp is a sensible crop, and for that reason alone it is expected that the ‘fields of living emerald’ which so moved Kentuckian James Lane Allen to write of it in 1900 will once again grace the nation’s farmlands. When that happens, it will be one of the biggest blessings to be bestowed upon the nation.
That was how I closed that chapter then, and I would note once again that hemp is a necessary raw material from which the US could make a number of products including the paper, rope and twine, textiles, medical supplies, food, oil, cattle feed, etc.
Presently, China grows most of it. Let Americans buy no more from this Goliath but grow it here on US soil and manufacture products so as to bring back jobs to America. Be it patriotism, or common sense, or both, there is reason enough grow this crop that Thomas Jefferson once exhorted by sown ‘for the wealth and defence of the nation’, and that other Founding Fathers grew extensively.
Daby and his crew will stand with the Founding Fathers on this issue and will look to bring hemp back as a raw material that will bring back jobs and prosperity to this country.