Seems like lately—a handful of mercenary dead-enders and total assholes aside—everybody agrees that marijuana should be legal for all adults. In fact, it’s getting hard to remember exactly how hostile a good portion of polite society used to be to that very idea. But while times have indeed changed for the better, from recreational retail marijuana sales going forward in four states (and counting), to the federal government supplying sick children with highly-concentrated cannabis oil, unfortunately, too many tired, old stereotypes about pot smokers remain firmly rooted in our culture.
Turns out, for example, the hippies were right about weed all along, but it’s still OK to make fun of them and dismiss their high-minded ideas out of hand. Especially the tie-died true believers who keep insisting that cannabis not only gets you blazed, but “it’s gonna save the world, man.”
Of course, those very same hippies did insist on calling medical marijuana a “miracle drug” way back when nobody was listening, and now we know it shows tremendous efficacy in preventing and treating cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and a host of other serious conditions. It kind of makes all those dismissive jokes about needing medical marijuana “to get high” seem kind of lame, doesn’t it? But shrinking tumors and preventing seizures (and getting folks faded) remains a far cry from “saving” a world as tragically fucked up as our own.
It’s not like the cannabis plant also holds the secret to reversing climate change, ending global hunger and malnutrition, and ushering in a new era of world peace and equality, right? Besides, what an embarrassing thing to believe—that a plant could somehow save humanity.
But what if the Weed Eater told you that the establishment’s still ongoing 100-year, trillion-dollar global war against marijuana has been waged not to prevent the species’s supposed harms, but to suppress its benefits? Ask yourself: Do the pharmaceutical companies really want me to grow my own medicine? What happened to Henry Ford’s hemp car? And what else might pot be good for? “Hemp seeds have high levels of vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene and are rich in protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and fiber,” according to physician, author and integrative health guru, Dr. Andrew Weil. “What’s more, a recently published study from Spain’s University of Seville found that hemp has an ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to providing some compounds thought to lower high blood pressure… It also contains sterols, aliphatic alcohols and linolenic acids, including a-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid precursor that the researchers wrote may have ‘favorable nutritional implications and beneficial physiological effects on the prevention of coronary heart disease and cancer.'”
In layman’s terms, the wholly non-psychoactive varieties of cannabis commonly known as hemp produce seeds that are the world’s most nutritionally balanced and complete food source. Hemp may also be the Earth’s oldest cultivated crop. “It would be wryly interesting,” famed astronomer and closeted weed enthusiast Carl Sagan once noted, “if in human history the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization.” The earliest archeological evidence of hemp eating dates to 6,000 BC, though the practice may be much older. By the Middle Ages, hemp was a widely grown industrial crop throughout Europe, with the fibrous plant used to make textiles and the seeds eaten whole or milled into cereal. Despite their ideal nutritional profile and current high price at the health food store, hemp seeds were basically a kind of industrial by-product at the time, which made them extremely cheap and plentiful. In fact, hemp was a common ingredient in gruel—a type of thin porridge made by boiling cereal in water or milk that most people associate with a little Dickensian waif by the name of Oliver Twist.
Hemp also played a huge role in the history of the United States dating back to colonial times. As early as 1619, the Virginia Assembly (earliest predecessor to the US State of Virginia) passed a law requiring every productive farm within its jurisdiction to plant and harvest hemp. It would later help make the American War of Independence possible by supplying the revolutionaries with a homegrown source of rope, sails, and other vital resources, plus food, medicine, and textiles with enough of the crop left over to trade to France for arms.
But in 1937, Congress outlawed cannabis in all forms, denying the most beneficial plant on Earth to humanity, setting us all up for a future of booze, pills, petroleum, and plastics. The good news is that recent moves towards re-legalizing marijuana have led to a resurgence of American hemp as well. As author Doug Fine detailed in his recent book, Hemp Bound, the 2014 US Farm Bill included an amendment allowing universities and state agriculture departments to “experiment” with hemp in any state with a law approving such production, opening the door for America’s first fully legal domestic hemp crop in living memory. “Hemp grain is a superfood, no doubt about it,” Fine tells the Weed Eater from his home on a solar-powered goat farm in New Mexico. “I eat hemp seeds and hemp seed oil nearly every morning. Some days, they go into the morning shakes, and some days into the hemp seed gruel my sweetheart makes to start our day. Never felt healthier.”
Now consider that hemp can be grown in almost any climate, in poor soil and drought conditions, without the use of fertilizers and pesticides. And then imagine what would happen if instead of trying to “save the world” by alternating between dropping bombs on the planet’s most destitute and war-torn regions and sending in shipments of relief food and aid supplies to be stolen and fought over, we instead set a goal of helping those communities collectively plant, grow, harvest, process, and distribute a humanitarian cannabis crop of sufficient size to form the cornerstone of a sustainable local economy; one that’s independently self-sufficient in terms of food, clothing, medicine and even low-cost, high-quality eco-friendly shelter made from hemp.
Couple that with a massive Manhattan project-sized effort to transform the global economy from running on dead dinosaurs to running on a climate-friendly hemp-derived fuel of the future, and we’d really be getting somewhere. Remember, we fight over petroleum not because it provides energy, but because it’s scarce, non-renewable, and concentrated in just a few places on Earth. And the powers-that-be consider that dynamic a feature, by the way, not a bug, since they’re the ones with ready access to all that oil, and they also happen to make a ton of money off the wars we fight to maintain their supply.
So as we approach a new year full of promise and potential horror, isn’t it time that we all stop laughing at “dirty-fucking-hippies” and start asking if marijuana really is the key to our survival on this fragile planet? Something to ponder over a nutritious, delicious, medicinal, planet-healing, fully psychoactive bowl of high-THC, weed-infused hemp gruel.