Back before independence, the U.S. relied heavily on cannabis.
Cannabis is as American as apple pie and baseball.
No matter what people think or say about weed, it’s hard to deny that the herb has helped shape American culture and history. Don’t believe it? This Fourth of July holiday weekend, consider these seven reasons that cannabis is patriotic af. Happy Hemp Day!
Farmers required to grow hemp
Back before independence, the U.S. relied heavily on cannabis — not the psychoactive drug smoked today, but industrial hemp.
Regional governments encouraged farmers to grow hemp in the 17th century for the production of rope, sails, clothing and other textile products. In 1619, the Virginia Assembly passed legislation requiring every farmer in the state to grow hemp.
If citizens did not have paper money, hemp was accepted as legal tender in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland.
The Founding Fathers grew hemp
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp, the first on his plantation in Mount Vernon, Va., and the latter on his estate in Monticello, Va. Both Washington and Jefferson wrote often about the glories of the crop. Washington’s diaries indicate that hemp was cultivated at all his five farms.
NOTE: There is no historical evidence to suggest that either founding father smoked the herb. There are plenty of Internet quotes and myths out there, but the fact remains that hemp grown at the time was not used for intoxicating purposes.
The Declaration of Independence and hemp
No, the actual document declaring our independence from Great Britain was not printed on hemp paper. The historical document was printed on parchment made of animal skin, which was common at the time.
However, the first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper. The first draft was written on Dutch hemp paper on June 28, 1776; the second draft was written on hemp paper on July 2, 1776.
Betsy Ross, the American flag and hemp
The first American flag made by Betsy Ross was made from industrial hemp, according to some experts. Of course, there is still a lively debate as to whether or not Ross even made the original flag.
“Many of the very first American flags were made from hemp cloths. So there’s a real tie in to our country’s history and the important rule industrial hemp played in agriculture in our country,” said Representative Jared Polis of Colorado.
In 2013, hemp flag was flown over the Capitol for the first time in more than 80 years on July 4. Former Drug Enforcement Administration administrator Michele Leonhart, an ardent anti-marijuana drug warrior, said the lowest point in her 33-year career at the agency was when she learned they’d flown a hemp flag over the Capitol on July 4.
Hemp For Victory!
In 1942, the U.S. Department of Agriculture produced an informational film called “Hemp for Victory.” The movie, which was seen by most farmers during the height of World War II, extolled the virtues of the industrial hemp crop, detailed its history, showcased its myriad uses and provided tips and methods for growing it.
The government needed more hemp because of an import shortage. America needed hemp to help the war effort because it was used in ship’s rigging.
In the film, the federal government announced a goal to increase the acreage of the crop from 32,000 to 50,000 in 1943. Patriotic American farmers responded by growing 375,000 acres of industrial hemp. Farmers who committed to grow industrial hemp received a draft deferment.
Hemp saved a president’s life
In Jack Herer’s seminal book The Emperor Wears No Clothes, he writes: When the young pilot George Bush bailed out of his burning airplane after a battle over the Pacific, little did he know the following:
- parts of his aircraft engine were lubricated with cannabis hemp seed oil;
- 100 per cent of his life-saving parachute webbing was made from U.S. grown cannabis hemp;
- virtually all the rigging and ropes of the ship that pulled him in were made of cannabis hemp;
- the fire hoses on the ship (as were those in the schools he had attended) were woven from cannabis hemp;
- finally, as young George Bush stood safely on the deck, his shoes’ durable stitching was of cannabis hemp, as it is in all good leather and military shoes to this day.
Hemp saves the lives of those who served our great nation
As we send our young men and women overseas to fight for our national interests, more and more of them are suffering not from bullets, but from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An estimated 8,000 veteran commit suicide a year — that’s 22 a day.
In March, a pair of key bills that could expand veterans’ access to medical marijuana passed in a House Committee. One piece of legislation would allow Veteran Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana prescriptions in states with legal programs, something doctors are currently prohibited to do. The second bill would direct VA to conduct a clinical trial in the efficacy of cannabis in treating PTSD, chronic pain and other health conditions connected to service.
A recent study suggests that access to cannabis was associated with an 11 per cent reduction in the suicide rate of males aged 20 to 29 and a 10 per cent reduction in the suicide rate of men aged 30 to 39. Another study shows that deaths from opiate overdoses decreased 25 per cent in those states with legally accessible cannabis.
The FreshToast.com, a U.S. lifestyle site that contributes lifestyle content and, with their partnership with 600,000 physicians via Skipta, medical marijuana information to The GrowthOp.
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