A Eulogy to Hemp
the most dangerous substance in the universe
I didn’t really discover cannabis until well into my twenties. I’d smoked a few js back in my late teens, quite enjoyed them but didn’t mix in such circles so forgot about it, gave up smoking altogether and entered the rat-race.
I’d been an idiot at school, bottom in every subject. I sort of knew I wasn’t exactly stupid, just incapable of organising my thoughts, particularly if they had to climb on board the time train for tests and exams. But finding I understood telephone circuits at least as well as most telephone engineers, I lied my way onto a government training programme and six months later qualified as a computer engineer.
Computers were very simple in those days, programs were tiny, and where I found a job, mostly written directly to PROMs – and, no two computer systems spoke entirely the same language. I was working with was something completely alien to ASCII, or EBCDIC, or BCD or… and consequently it required translation for communication. And, as if by magic, Hey Presto! cannabis again popped into my life.
As a kid I’d always loved puzzles, the more complex the better (think the Rubik’s Cube took me about six months) – it didn’t matter how long they took, the importance lay in the achievement – and with cannabis, logic danced: albeit to a primordial beat. I was always the slowest engineer, slowest at fixing things and slowest on the uptake, but given enough time and space, and puff, it seemed as if there was nothing I couldn’t do with a bit of boolean algebra, a few conditional statements, and a little wiring. Cannabis enabled me to focus, to shut out everything but the here and now, and the problem at hand – it truly was a wonder drug.
That was some years back, companies no longer tolerate days down time, everything is replaceable, modularised, universalised. And I’ve long since become disillusioned with the capitalist model. Nice house, smart car, expense account, holidays wherever… – plenty of prestige and loose cash, but really I found precious little time to enjoy it, and when I did, in reality it was mostly shallow and meaningless. I found far more joy and wonder, and meaning in nature, most particularly with cannabis catalysing perception.
Colin died in ’97 from a stroke. He was my younger brother and had done as much as anyone to enhance my perception of cannabis and the world of nature, and, consequently, the meaninglessness of materialism. Spent a week in France effectively waiting for him to die – the doctors had given him 48 hours, but bloody minded to the end, he lived on for six days – where my few remaining attachments to consumerism were well and truly undermined. I returned to the UK and was Prozaced back to work, but beyond the puzzle solving, which had effectively become history, I found nothing of value.
Two years later, the last day of 1999, I quit my job deciding to search for a more meaningful path. Bummed around for a while and found myself in the Corbieres (land of the Cathars) come the summer of 2001, where my appreciation of nature and cannabis scaled new heights. Then I discovered what had happened on 9/11 – on top of a mountain – and the brutality of humanity came crashing back in.
I wintered in London, holed up in my mum’s back room, writing countless letters, email, articles about the blind, ignorant violence being perpetrated on the poor people of Afghanistan, supposedly in response to 9/11: knowing that understanding why people would willingly go to their death for a belief was key to any genuine solution. But the “Why?” question was simply not part of anyone’s agenda, not press, not politicians: it was enough to label the supposed perpetrators as ‘evil doers’, with knee-jerk violence to obliterate all dissenters to their particular model of the world order.
I spent early 2002 in North Wales painting and decorating and working on the land – admiring sunsets across the Menai Straits – yet knowing this was no more than escapism and a waste of my analytical reasoning, unlocked by the herb, and, in truth, not any genuine long term solution. So after much contemplation and deliberation I chose to enter the lair of the beast: I applied for, and was accepted, to study International Politics at Aberystwyth University (the birthplace of ‘International Relations’), commencing that September.
However, at uni, despite my enthusiasm and commitment, and love of learning, I found myself plunged back into school days: simply not finding enough time to organise my fragmented thoughts into rational arguments, in the couple of hours allocated for exams. A fellow student mentioned he also he also had this difficulty and had been diagnosed with dyslexia. Dyslexia hadn’t been invented when I was at school so I contacted the authorities and asked if I could be evaluated. They agreed and organised for a specialist to visit and make a psychological assessment.
The day arrived and as a friend had given me a fragment of soap bar just a few days before, it seemed wholly logical to add cannabis to the equation, given its catalysing effects. As per usual, I didn’t finish the tests, cannabis was unlikely to tune me in to that extent, but nevertheless they projected my ‘verbal reasoning’ to be as good or better than 99% of the population and my ‘perceptual organisation’ to be as good or better than 99.9%: it seems the naysayers of cannabis must be struck dumb or recognise my potential score to be even greater Personally I think such tests are both narrow-minded and superficial and do nothing more than isolate fragments. However I do accept that at some level, they point to specific attributes, with, without doubt, cannabis catalysing my performance.
All that’s as maybe (despite extra exam time, PC and whatnot), for my university professors saw no more than my school teachers, and marked accordingly. Still, I had recognised very early into my time at university, marks are no more than marketing, to sell both student and university: and actually, in real life, worthless beyond perceptual value. Genuine value lay in learning: from literature, discourse and interaction, and I had three years of it, uninterrupted, without concern for finance or outside obligations, and my wonder drug.
That was five years back, and although I’d largely brushed over the core texts, seeing them as superficial and confining, still for the most part I’d been trapped within the university’s resources: library, lectures and structured, weighted, confined debate. Since then I’ve discovered the wonders and delights of bittorrent and knowledge/speculation unconfined by structured authority.
Cannabis and I have no interest in material conceptually ‘owned’ by some manifestation of mass media. We are searching for alternate perspectives and ideas, most often that others wish to share, yet state and corporation prefer to see sidelined, silenced, or obliterated. The two that come most readily to mind are, 9/11 and hemp.
This is no place to discuss 9/11, but, hemp, well…
I used to think cannabis was just some drug that turned smokers into peaceniks, opened doors of perception and potentially alienated users from society: which, given government corporate motivation, seemed to me at least, unsurprising. But I was wrong. Well, not wrong exactly, more completely unaware of how woefully superficial and limited my understanding was.
You see, there is no plant, no mineral, no concoction that comes remotely close to cannabis hemp in terms of it’s central value to humanity though its evolution: both material and spiritual.
Such a story, a history, would take many volumes and still it would be little more than a gesture, so what I offer here is a snapshot, woefully inadequate, based on the most superficial research, yet with facts, statistics, uses… true as stated. A glimpse into the depths and profundity of humanity’s age old relationship with cannabis hemp: its tree of knowledge, tree of life.
A history of hemp
Lord Shiva, humanity’s oldest continually worshipped deity, lord of dance and plants and champion of the oppressed, brought cannabis down from the mountain for the delight and enlightenment of us all.
The Chinese, ever the practical, already using hempen fishing nets and garbed in hempen cloth (humanity’s first fabric), recognised cannabis hemp as their earliest medicine, and a millennium or so later as the perfect material for paper making.
The Buddha, ever the ascetic, was nourished on his six year journey towards enlightenment with just one Hemp seed a day.
[Conjecture: In what became known as Mesopotamia however, where male dominated hierarchical society evolved and women were condemned to serve, disseminators of truth were not enamoured with this extraordinary two sexed plant: knowledge and life, male and female. And although they will tolerate the male, knowledge, for cloth and cord, the female, life, was shunned eastward, for all but reproduction.]
So history continued, western man discovered alcohol, rotting fruit, for intoxication, and hemp was restricted to clothing, rope, sail etc. And, in time, oil and paper.
Come the thirteenth century, as knowledge of cannabis hemp’s medicinal and spiritual effects were becoming increasingly known, Pope Innocent VIII associated cannabis with the devil and forbade all intoxicants bar alcohol: under pain of torture and death. So, through fear, herbalism declined and died and knowledge of cannabis for medication and enlightenment passed from public memory.
Yet, with hemp, just two centuries later, Europeanism set about conquering the world. For such a feat would have been impossible without hempen sail and rigging, oakum and clothing: where, in Africa and the East, Europeans rediscovered the medicinal and spiritual properties of cannabis. And with the Roman Church’s monopoly on truth fragmenting come the sixteenth century, cannabis now became a central component in medicine, and favoured inspiration for many of our seminal writers and poets: William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Lord Byron, Alexander Dumas, Arthur Conan-Doyle, John Keats, Mary Shelley, Louisa May Alcott, Oscar Wilde, Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll…
An association across race, time and continents to the early twentieth century blues and jazz musicians and innovators emerging from slavery in the US: … Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington … who, together with cannabis, were set to become the targets of white supremacists in their quest for world domination.
For sure, cannabis hemp was indispensable to humanity: our primary crop over ten millennia, but technology moves on and various substitutes appeared: weaker, of poorer quality but also produced on grand scales through industrialisation, by companies eager to expand, monopolise and control. For which cannabis hemp was unsuitable, growing as it does as a weed and more suited to self sufficiency and local processing. And worse, being a plant, beyond patent, therefore outside business control.
Worse still for big business, as technology finally turned its attention towards cannabis hemp, it promised even greater diversity, strength, production and access for the common man. A wholly unpalatable prospect for corporate interests like Dupont, Hurst Newspapers, Big Cotton… with positions to protect, profits to be made and domination pursued, and now intrinsically linked and intermarried with government and law enforcement.
So began a propaganda campaign, to associate cannabis (aka marijuana) with violence and madness, and blacks and Latinos. ‘Reefer Madness’, ‘Assassin of Youth’ and countless fabricated horror stories flooded the popular media. Without foundation but to an ignorant public, and more importantly, ignorant politicians, most of whom were unaware marijuana was cannabis, cannabis hemp now became a menace that must be eradicated.
Cannabis hemp was effectively outlawed through a tax act in 1937, and although it briefly had its praises sung once again in the early ’40s, as no other crop could support the US war effort – when the Ministry of Agriculture produced the famed “Hemp for Victory” (knowledge of which the government attempted to wipe from existence) – once the war was over hemp was again demonised. Only this time, because of Cold War paranoia, for precisely the opposite reason: cannabis did not make people violent: it made them pacifists! and therefore, as a consequence, less likely to participate in imperialist wars.
So henceforth cannabis hemp would disappear from history and corporate interests would fill the vacuum, alcohol would be promoted as authority’s drug of choice and war could continue unabated.
However, come the ’60s, as black musicians and their music found increasing acceptance and bands like the Beatles and Stones ventured beyond the white middle classes for inspiration, western youth culture discovered for themselves the delights and insights of cannabis. And still further, disillusioned soldiers returning from Vietnam also brought home cannabis, together with questions for which their government had no legitimate answers: only violence and repression.
It was in this environment that Tricky Dickey, aka President Nixon, believing it was the pot smokers who were hampering his war games, commissioned a study into the health effects of cannabis, determined to find an excuse to ban cannabis outright: thus enabling him to crush antiwar protests.
The Shafer report gave cannabis a clean bill of health, citing many of its positive qualities, so Dickey ditched the report and used Vietnam and the rampant paranoia of the Cold War to persecute and criminalise users anyway.
Under Reagan the ban became rigorously enforced. He had a particular dislike for kids who “read books, smoked marijuana and talked”, seeing them, one assumes, as somehow a threat to his established order, and the orders of Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama…
Yet, test after test, study after study have been commissioned on cannabis by governments and institutions worldwide and none have found anything significantly harmful. Indeed, what has become clear, although you will never hear it from the popular press, is how benign and beneficial cannabis is: in 10,000 years there is not one reported death due to cannabis use alone (compare that to the three million who die annually from tobacco smoking, or the hundreds of thousands who die annually from prescription drugs), and “one of the safest and most therapeutically active substances known to man”, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s own law judge.
The only exception being to children, whose brain development may possibly be influenced by excessive use of cannabis at a young age: until approximately fifteen.
This, in any rational, humane society, would lead to production monitoring, regulation and licensing, so cannabis was not available to children, potentially contaminated, or bred in secret, artificially, solely for the high. Instead, because of government policy, we have a black market, where dealers sell cannabis of unknown origin, potency or content to anyone, provided they have the cash: and in the process, offer them access to heroin, coke, crystal meth…
This is government undermining the health, welfare and future of our progeny, undermining our trust, and consequentially undermining their very reason for existence.
Why? Given the Cold War is now a memory, what makes cannabis hemp so absolutely, terribly dangerous that truth must be purged from history and our children, our future, are but a minor sacrifice?
The billion dollar crop
As previously mentioned, as technology caught up with hemp, a world of new potential materialised. In 1938 ‘Popular Mechanics’ prepared an article on Hemp called ‘The Billion Dollar Crop’, in which they stated hemp fibres could be converted into 5,000 products ranging from rope to lace and the remaining woody ‘hurds’ containing 70% cellulose, converted into 25,000 products ranging from dynamite to cellophane.
This however was four score years ago. Technology has moved on, as has inflation. To a point where it would not unreasonable to see cannabis hemp as a Trillion Dollar crop.
To give the briefest glimpse of hemp’s potential:
Fabric of any quality and consistency, from coarsest sackcloth to finest silk, without the need for pesticides or fertilisers, or, genetic modification: with twice the yield per acre of cotton, and at least three times its strength, absorbency, warmth and longevity.
Plastics of every kind, from earplugs to aeroplanes, packaging to insulation: biodegradable, without poisonous by-products, toxic fumes or excess CO2.
Finest bond paper that does not yellow or disintegrate through time, card and board, stronger and more enduring than wood pulp alternatives, renewable, sustainable: at five times the yield per acre of forest, and without producing acid rain.
For construction: hemp is ideal for fireproof insulation, and board made from hemp fibre has several times the tensile strength of wood-chip and can be fireproofed and weather proofed for walls and roofs. And, in time, given cannabis hemp’s extraordinary strength to weight ratio, likely an ideal material for bridges and skyscrapers.
For fuel: cannabis hemp produces more net biomass than any other plant on earth. With small adjustments in processing it can produce, ethanol, acetone charcoal, tar, creosote… and has the potential to replace all fossil fuels: without pollution, as it does not require poisonous processing chemicals, or produce excess CO2.
For food: hemp seed is the most nutritionally complete food on earth. Second only to soy in the plant kingdom as a protein source, but much higher for essential fatty acids, including Omega 3 and 6 oils and vitamins A and E, both powerful antioxidants: and, without genetic modification, pesticides or fertilisers.
And medicine, for literally thousands of ailments and diseases: from cancer to glaucoma, MS to depression, obesity to AIDS… the list appears endless, with the likelihood of overdose: Zero.
Cannabis hemp is also an excellent base for cosmetics, cleaning products, paints, varnish…
Plus, cannabis hemp works in harmony with the environment, grows just about everywhere, without fertilisers or pesticides, is renewable, sustainable, and with its long tap root, ideal for ground reparation.
All this from a plant anyone can grow in their garden! – sound too good to be true?
The most dangerous substance in the universe
As history is my witness, even without twentieth century technology, cannabis hemp has been interwoven with our evolution: From the spiritual gift of Shiva, the god Indra’s favourite drink and nectar of the gods in Vedic symbolism and tradition, cannabis hemp spread across culture and continent as our first and primary fibre, be it for clothing, fishing, bow strings, cordage… and as medicine, central to well-being: acknowledged since before the written word across Asia, and, come the twentieth century an ingredient in 50% of all medicines. Established as the best and most durable material for paper by the Chinese, a position unchallenged until industrialisation laid claim to the forests: and a jealously guarded secret, that did not find its way to Europe until the eighth century: on which, by the light of hemp oil lamps, monks and scholars produced our most enduring texts.
Artists painted with hemp oil paints on hemp canvas (canvas finding its entomological root in cannabis), and hempen rope and sail powered and steered Europe’s mighty galleons as they set sail to conquer the earth.
In the Americas, settlers set about conquering the continent with canvas covered wagons. The original Levi jeans were made from hempen sailcloth, riveted, tough enough for the 49ers to load their pockets with gold. Hemp could hardly be more central to US culture, for, together with its hempen flag, the declaration itself was drafted on hemp paper. Homesteads would invariably cultivate a ‘hemp patch’ and president after president sung hemp’s praises:
George Washington: “Make the most of Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!”
Thomas Jefferson: “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of our country.”
Abraham Lincoln: “Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp and playing my Honer [harmonica].”
John Adams: “We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our consumption.”
Sentiments continuing into the Twentieth Century where Henry Ford, the great industrialist, asked: “Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making or the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?”
And finally, delving further into hidden history, one other use for this remarkable little weed. As settlers – Europe’s poverty stricken oppressed – began their quest for independence, to undermine British sterling, hemp became recognised as an alternative currency for trade and commerce: a currency all could find value in. Indeed, hemp was still used to pay taxes long after Limey had been vanquished from the ‘New World’.
Plastic, paper, pharmaceuticals, fuel, food, fabric, finance, soil enhancer, pollution devourer, spiritual benefactor: cannabis hemp is a complete companion, and the answer to a prayer for our desperately beleaguered and polarised world. Cannabis hemp, together with its multitudinous material uses, also engenders balance and harmony, through its catalysing effects towards spirituality: and returning value to nature, where, in reality, it belongs.
But, the more one owns: property, status, ego, power…, the less one finds a taste or use for cannabis hemp. Silk for nobles, canvas for peasants, meat for the elite, gruel (originally hemp seed) for the surf, alcohol for society, grass for the dispossessed, materialism for the wealthy, spirituality for the poor.
So through history, it was ever thus: hemp had its place, service, for the job at hand: functional, reliable, adaptable, and cheap – and everywhere. Shiva’s gift to the wretched: sustenance, shelter and spirituality.
Until now, where nature is outlawed. Outlawed, not for it’s danger to humanity, far from it, cannabis hemp could catalyse our saviour: but to the power hungry egotists who would own our world – and others besides.
Cannabis hemp comes head-to-head with all of our world’s most powerful corporations: oil, big pharma, big cotton, lumber, seeds and genetic modification, alcohol and tobacco, and the war machine. Furthermore, what government, after decades of dishonest and ill conceived laws that have destroyed the lives of millions (with law enforcement and private prisons now as powerful lobbying groups in their own right), could ever dare recognise their woeful error and duplicitous complicity in the persecution and attempted annihilation of God’s greatest gift to humanity?
So we are left with a world of poisonous chemical, genetically modified unnatural alternatives, dictated and dispensed by a handful of merchants and their whores defining our world order, who see power and wealth and expansion as primary objectives in themselves. A world without balance or harmony, driven by materialism and insecurity, where all must remain hungry and all must remain fearful, forever: as fuel, for the insatiable engine of capitalism.
To governments and corporations, and bankers: Cannabis Hemp is indeed, the most dangerous substance in the universe.
A personal perspective:
It is easy to become trapped in the brutality and injustices of our polarised, intolerant world, or overwhelmed by the sensory images that bombard us 24/7, together with the fragmented sound bites fed to us as truth. A chaotic mass of apparently unrelated data, seemingly incoherent and disparate, yet nevertheless, designed to shape the thought and motivation of populations: hungry, fearful, clueless populations.
Cannabis engenders dispassionate reflection and harmony with all. It diffuses blame with understanding, prompting us to stand back and consider the bigger picture, to take a holistic perspective: beyond the establishment narrative. Beyond little stories in boxes, couched in terms of ‘good and evil’, that invariably hide strategic and economic motivation and racial and religious bigotry, and consequences beyond the pocket story. In today’s world, even to suggest such connections, brands one a psychotic or a terrorist, or some other such label, packaging the non-conformer as at odds with establishment order and establishment thinking.
And this, to me, is where the true beauty (and danger) of cannabis lies: in smashing illusions, opening doors of perception – beyond the personal and possessive, beyond the immediate and simplistic, beyond the agenda driven bullshit defining parameters and perspectives – as a gateway to nature and the now, to being, and as the progenitor of question and a catalyst to wonder.
Our tree of life, real life: imbuing holism and harmony, reflection and understanding, peace, and love. So to those who would command, who would see our world owned and who would live off hate and the toil of others, Shiva’s seminal offering truly is: the most dangerous substance in the universe.
Sources: (video): The Union – Run from the Cure – The Hemp Revolution – Magic Weed – The Hemplands Conspiracy – Hemp and the rule of Law – The Medicinal use of Cannabis – In Pot we Trust – The Emperor of Hemp – Hemp for Victory – The History of Marijuana – American Drug War, the Last White Hope
(books/literature): Cannabis, a History – Shiva, the Wild God of Power and Ecstasy – The Forbidden Medicine – The Emperor Wears no Clothes – The Shafer report