Sunday, February 15, 2009

21st Century Prohibition - The Goods

Cannabis Sativa - an annual plant in the Cannabaceae family. It is a herb that has been used throughout recorded history by humans for various purposes such as fiber, for its oil, and as food, as a drug, as medicine, and for spiritual purposes(from Wikipedia)

This is hemp. It's also Marijuana. The only difference is the potency of the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of the leaves and flowers.

This drawing from 1900 shows the different
parts of both male and female plants

THC potency is varied depending on the plant subspecies and the method of cultivation. Cannabis is a sexual plant, meaning that it reproduces by pollination from a male plant to a female one. The female has flowers that are more resinous by nature to produce seeds, the males only produce flowers for production of pollen. Males are genetically lower in THC than females. By encouraging female flower growth and eliminating male genomes, THC potency can reach as high as 22%. This is the desired effect of marijuana growers.

By planting close together, restricting flower growth and encouraging height and stalk size, potency is as low as .5%. Commercial grade hemp is grown in this fashion, which makes the product unusable as a psychoactive drug. A user would have to smoke or ingest 15 to 50 times the plant matter to achieve the same 'high' as normal or average potency cannabis. Most of the THC resides in the flowers and stamens, small leaves and stem have less and large leaves and stalks have almost none. This is a close-up of the flower bud with resin coated stamens.

Female flower bud with resin-coated stamens

Industrial hemp is usually harvested before flowering, avoiding any confusion with marijuana. Hemp that is grown for seed is cross-pollinated with male plants to produce seeds which further reduces THC levels. Also, specific subspecies of cannabis have been bred to favor stalk growth, large leaf production and increased yield of seeds; all of which decrease potency. Thus, the production of hemp is counter-productive to the marijuana grower. The two crops would have to be segregated to keep the marijuana plants from going to seed and losing its value. Segregation would be cost prohibitive, especially if done illegally.

So, why go to all the trouble of legalizing hemp production and the processing of hemp products?

Hemp is one of the most versatile plants in Mother Earth's Kitchen. Hemp can be used to make paper, textiles, building materials, food, fuel and plastics. Hemp requires little to no pesticides, no herbicides, controls erosion and produces oxygen (as most plants do). Hemp products can replace many non-renewable items currently on the shelf such as plastic containers, cardboard boxes, ink, and cellophane.

Hemp fiber can be combined with other fibers such as silk, linen, or flax to produce softer textiles, but new refining methods are producing softer hemp with very little to no need to blend with other fabrics. Replacing cotton with hemp would mean a significant reduction in pesticide use since cotton uses almost 25% of the world's total. Hemp is naturally resistant to many pests and diseases and can be rotated to ensure proper soil nutrition.

Hemp can be used for food. It's nutritive value exceeds that of many other, more processed foods:
About 30–35% of the weight of hempseed is an edible oil that contains about 80% as essential fatty acids (EFAs); i.e., linoleic acid, omega-6 (LA, 55%), alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 (ALA, 22%), in addition to gamma-linolenic acid, omega-6 (GLA, 1–4%) and stearidonic acid, omega-3 (SDA, 0–2%). Hempseed also contains about 20% of a highly-digestible protein, where 1/3 is edestin and 2/3 are albumins. Its amino acid profile is close to "complete" when compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy.
Cannabis Sativa as a drug is gaining support among mainstream medical journals and groups. The old 'Reefer Madnees' of the 1930's is starting to fall by the wayside. However, there's a long way to go before the old ways are replaced with logical thought and consideration.

Research is difficult because of the stigma surrounding the drug and the layers of government intervention and red tape that must be completed before any trials can be started. The government's 'War on Drugs' counter-indicates any medical or commercial uses of marijuana thereby establishing a wall of resistance to accept any proof otherwise.

The current research done by other countries establishes the minimum requirements to begin responsible and extensive research here in the United States. The Obama administration should at the very least, remove cannabis from the Schedule One:

Schedule I.—
(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision."
No prescriptions may be written for Schedule I substances,

As research has indicated and as information is disseminated, we can conclude that cannabis no longer falls into the criteria set forth by the DEA's own guidelines.

Many of us would like to see cannabis regulated by the government, taxed and provided legal for responsible adults in the same way alcohol and tobacco are. But, we acknowledge, that one must learn to crawl before you walk. Decriminalization of cannabis would remove the harm that has been perpetrated on millions of people by their use of marijuana.

It's time to bury the memory of Harry Anslinger once and for all.

Update: I got my titles mixed up, this post is "The Goods", one of my next posts will be about those who fight the good fight on the Pot Prohibition front.

So Mote It Be,
David A.


Liberality said...

oh my gosh...a rational discussion about an herb that has been criminalized.

nunya said...

Wow, you just shot down my love for cotton clothing.

Let's hope Obama doesn't have to fight the DEA. They're not going to like giving up their planes and stuff.

Posted on Monday, 02.16.09 Recommend (1)share email print comment
DEA spends $123,000 to fly agency chief to Colombia
McClatchy Newspapers

Anonymous said...

I personley never done any & wouldn;t know any about it.but I am willing to read about it & decide for myselve & see what I come up,understanding about it. in the main time I will study what information I can get,ok?