By Natalie M. Williams

There has been much talk in New York State regarding Marihuana and Hemp Legalization.
“Mary Jane”; also known as ‘the sister of man’ has traveled with humanity for millennia. As a person of Jamaican descent; I was familiar with the sacred herb. I was impressed to witness the relief Cannabis provided cancer patients and outraged to learn that the herb was not legally available to all since it had proven itself to be better than the prescription NSAIDs and opioids offered by standard medical practitioners. Marijuana has anti-tumor properties. Even when smoked; exclusive cannabis users do not get lung cancer. Eating cannabis raw will not get you ‘high’. Baking it does. Cannabis ‘edibles’ are far easier on your throat and lungs but do take longer to affect you and have longer-lasting effects. Many have spoken about the medical applications of Cannabis. Our bodies have endocannabinoid receptors; which enable us to be affected by the two main ‘drugs’ found in cannabis – THC and CBD.

Generally speaking, THC is the drug that causes ‘the high’, while CBD is the drug the eases pain and reduces inflammation. The specialty breeders have been hard at work creating genetic strains which have high concentrations of either THC or CBD for consumption. There is a world of controversy over the legalization of THC. It has been known to alleviate many medical conditions. The fact that the US Government has classified THC as a Schedule 1 drug had made it difficult to obtain. Though several states have laws regarding THC medical and recreational use; they are still in defiance of Federal laws.
As THC is a threat to a number of established pharmaceutic industry medications; these vested interests have manipulated the media and public policy to serve their ends. As low-level Marijuana possession has resulted in mass incarcerations; legal reforms are being discussed. Marijuana prohibition in 1937 was the result of a propaganda campaign ( by W.R. Hearst). It came as a response to the end of alcohol prohibition. It had the effect of allowing a reign to terror in which McCarthy-ite politicians, police, and legislators maintained their authority to have ‘something’ to criminalize common people for, and thereby keep themselves employed).

The story of how and why Marijuana was so mischaracterized to be placed on the ‘Schedule One list – a list of drugs which have no purported medical or therapeutic purpose – is one which has sacrificed the national health and economic prosperity in favor of maintaining concentrated power to industrial interests. For now, please realize that the calls to ‘more research’ and the confusions brought before the public regarding the efficacy of the endemic Marijuana medications THC and CBD are by design. Israel is in the forefront of Cannabis research; the benefits of Marijuana are undeniable. Marijuana is safe. No one has ever – that’s right ever – died from a Marijuana overdose. That cannot be said for any of the other Rx’s being pushed.

No ‘additional research’ needs to be done. This established pharmaceutical industry calls for ‘more research’ are actually delay tactics which allow big Pharma to search for patentable ways to capitalize on nature’s compounds; in an effort to re-package Marihuana into its various component parts – so that they can sell these to consumers for a profit. Marinol; a less effective pill form of Marijuana – is one such an example.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, made a public apology for having mischaracterized Marijuana in 2008. He had stated that the medical literature was full of many ‘negative’ studies. And, he admitted that he failed to search deeply for the truth on the matter. Through his investigative television special “Weed”; he met people who have benefitted miraculously from self- treatment with Marijuana. Gupta even admits to having tried Marijuana himself. Perhaps you are like him, dear reader – before his revelation.

Any freedom-loving American – i.e. Democrat, Libertarian, Republican or Independent – would have to agree that Marihuana decriminalization is all about personal choice and freedom. And that the government should not interfere with anything that a person wants to do so long as they are not harming anyone else.

Marijuana has been in general, maligned in the press, and criminalized under Federal Law. The New York State Legislature will be wrangling with these issues in their sessions beginning in the Autumn of 2019. Overall, New York State is searching for a way to benefit through the taxation of legal medical, and perhaps legal recreational Marijuana; while attempting to reform criminal laws regarding Marijuana possession – which has unfairly impacted Black, Brown and poor communities.

Unfortunately, the criminalization of Marijuana in the United States, and throughout the rest of the world due to the influence of US policies, has lead to epic numbers of Marijuana prisoners. America’s incarceration rate is the highest in the world. Global crime rings and terrorist groups sell drugs – including Marijuana for high profits. An army of ‘anti-drug’ police are in force to “fight drugs”; a veritable prison industrial complex has been formed through the criminalization of Marijuana. If we were to ‘legalize “pot”’ – what would we do with all of the empty prisons; and worse; with all of the personnel ( cops, jailers, and lawyers) employed to “fight” Marijuana? Isn’t it more sensible to remove the profit motive of criminal enterprises by making Marijuana legal and thereby less profitable? By allowing people to ‘grow their own’ marijuana and hemp plants; people would not have to be exposed to the criminal elements.

Best of all, the price of Marijuana, in a true supply and demand marketplace – would go down. But, that’s not what America’s states have let happen in practice. The State of Colorado is experiencing a renaissance, due to their state’s legalization of Marijuana; and the tax profits have gone to pay for schools and state services. Other states; such as the State of Ohio – back in 2008, seemed intent on becoming a corporatized, taxation profiteer on behalf of the ‘Big Marijuana Industry’; much like the drug cartels, they sought to displace. The State of California has perhaps, provided the most livable solution; in its active defiance of federal law.

New York State will likely look to its neighbors for legislative guidance. Massachusetts allows for every citizen to grow up to six plants for their own consumption. Maine and Vermont have decriminalized possession of small amounts. Canada has completely legalized Cannabis. [Practically speaking – the recreational Marijuana user who is a New Yorker has two options – get some from someplace else where it is legal, or get some which has been grown illegally here…]

In the meanwhile, the NYS legislature will look for answers; which will likely result in an unsatisfactory compromise. The arguments and distractions surrounding Marijuana will likely continue for some time. Since controversy continues to embroil us in debate regarding “Cannabis or Marijuana” let’s turn our attention to Marihuana’s genetic cousin – Hemp.

The Answer to our Health, Healing and Economic Success is before us: Hemp. Hemp is a plant variety which has minimal amounts of THC; and can be used as a basis for a plethora of products. Before 1937 – when Hemp and Marijuana were criminalized in US law; hemp was a major cash crop.

Hemp was a common farm staple; useful for food, as hemp seeds; hemp clothing, hemp fiber rope, and hemp oil. Hemp oil was used for medicine, and it was used as a fuel.
The true reason for the banning Hemp, dear reader – has everything to do with scapegoating and suppressing competition. The oil industry, newspaper industry and ‘new’ synthetic fabric industries benefitted from eliminating hemp as an option for American consumption. The change in US law had the effect of forcing American consumers – ‘us’ – to burn fossil fuels, rather than use hemp oils; cut down trees for paper pulp rather than using hemp fibers; requiring us to buy ‘polyester’ and ‘nylon’ clothing and rope, rather than using hemp fiber to spin cloth and rope; and steering us to get medical treatments with opiate-based drugs and synthetic creations – when our bodies already responded to the soothing anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving CBD found in hemp.

The illegality of Hemp; as we know it in the US and abroad – was designed to protect the economic prospects of certain industries; particularly, the oil industry. “We, the People” – have been created as a consequence. Cheated – of a potential ‘cure‘ for cancer’ (anti-tumor properties ); of a pain reliever (CBD is an analgesic for which we have endo-cannabinoid receptors for ); of a pressure reducer (glaucoma treatment); as an access to greater creativity (the ‘high of THC in it’s cousin plant Marijuana, allows for transformational creative expression ); of a ‘tough’ fabric (the original Levi’s jeans & sailing ship canvas were made with hemp ‘cannabis’ fibers ); of a nutrition source (hemp seeds are high in protein ).

And, also as a medicine (CBD’s ‘anti-epileptic’ & pain reducing ) qualities have been studied extensively. There is a high CBD strain of Cannabis known as ‘Charlottes Web’; which both pediatricians and parents observe to provide epileptic children with more relief than could be had with any other prescription drug.

Eighty-five years later; post Marijuana and Hemp Prohibition – what have we got to show for it?- A US economy desperately dependent on fossil fuels; and a planet overwhelmed with pollution from plastic product wastes derived from these fossil fuels. We have toxic wastes, oil tanker spills, and a ‘global economy’ invested in getting ‘our oil’ from ‘their land’. We live with a contentious war based international climate in which America must seek out more and more in the way of fossil fuels – to fuel our vehicles, manufacture our products, etc.- all the while polluting the soil, water and air as part of the extraction and transport process.

And worse of all – Climate Change resultant from centuries of burning of these fossil fuels have lead us on the planetary death spiral of ‘Global Warming’. Given the greed and recalcitrance of the fossil fuel industry; combustion of these fuels will result in increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide emissions which will not abate. This has already caused our Earth to warm to the point of prompting an agricultural option could, in and of itself, rescue the New York State economy. Having Marihuana included would also be a boon to the economy.

With hemp, the small farmer would experience financial liberation. Are you aware that Henry Ford had experimented with Hemp resins and fibers as natural product panels of his automobiles; creating a hemp plastic compound which was twice as strong as steel? Did you know that the first American Flag was made from Hemp fibers? The Declaration of Independence was written on Hemp paper. The country’s money was printed on hemp linen paper. Are you aware that the old ten dollar bill had a hemp field being harvested printed on it’s back? The versatility and durability of hemp fabrics is unmatched. Did you know that the ‘Founding Fathers’ advocated that the ‘growing nation’ produce hemp as a staple crop?
Hemp was thought to be the basis of economic production for the then young country. The same hope for America exists today. We must recognize that we have all been duped. The answer to our Health, Healing and Economic Success is right before us. The Answer is Hemp.

Just as Hemp was a competitive threat to major corporations such as Standard Oil [ fossil fuels ], Dupont [synthetic fibers & plastics] and Hearst Publications [ wood pulp paper processing] back then; the use of Hemp as a crop presents a threat to Big Pharma and Big Tobacco today.

Whatever political decisions ensue, all of us can recognize that the solution is obvious. Fortunately, Hemp is a plant. It is a ‘weed’ which can be grown anywhere. And so, for , Hemp; and it’s THC containing cousin Marijuana, it will be. ‘We, the people’ have and will continue to harvest nature’s bounty regardless of state laws and federal restrictions. But, bearing the burdens of illegal status are tedious for the grower, and ultimately are ineffectual for the state. It is well past the time to change all of that.

With Hemp – anyone with a clay pot can be a ‘pharmer’. Who needs addicting opioids when you have access to CBD oil? Why bother with getting oil from the Middle East when we can grow and press our own from hemp seeds?

Marijuana and Hemp prohibition was brought about due to economics; their continued suppression by ‘vested interests’ has resulted in blocking innovation and independence up until today. Pick your philosopher – from Benjamin Franklin to Karl Marx; hemp brings prosperity to the small farmer. With hemp fields, people cannot be enslaved to an external economy which requires one to buy outside that which you can otherwise grow yourself. If you have a place for hemp to grow – you are set. Because with it – you have food, medicine, fiber & fuel.

My investigation of this topic can be summarized thus: Hemp was the ‘cash crop’ that this country’s prosperity was based on. Corporate profiteers have manipulated laws, legislation has criminalized and propaganda has been used to eliminate the use of marijuana and hemp – as these threatened their profits. The citizens and the planet have suffered as a result.

NYS citizens must demand our right to Nature’s Bounty. Hemp farming is the solution to economic success and fossil fuel independence. Hemp farming can reduce fossil fuel caused by global warming and plastics pollution.

Take a stand. Legalize it! Grow your own. New York State & hemp; America – for Hemp!

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