Hemp And Cannabis in Southern Oregon Skirmish

As Oregon’s legal marijuana market goes official on July 1, 2015, two different aspects of cannabis agriculture are at odds.

Some of the world’s finest wines are produced from grapes grown in southern Oregon. In nearby fields, some of the planet’s choicest cannabis strains benefit from the same climate. The medical marijuana plants appear like small trees, protruding with arm-sized buds worth big money when harvested, dried and trimmed.

Cannabis Bud

Cannabis Flower Without Seeds

The aromatic female cannabis flowers glisten as they await the wind-borne arrival of pollen from male cannabis so they can produce seeds and complete their reproductive cycle. But the pollen never arrives, as growers are quick to uproot any male plants. Pollination would ruin the monetary and medical value of the crop as surely as a late season hail storm. Sinsemilla (Spanish for “without seed”) cannabis can sell for up to two thousand dollars a pound; seeded marijuana has no market value.

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp crop.

Now a new player is entering the Oregon cannabis agriculture: hemp. Like medically valuable sinsemilla, hemp is also marijuana, cannabis sativa. Unlike sinsemilla, hemp is grown for the seeds; they are the most valuable part of the hemp crop, although the entire plant is useful in dozens of ways. Indeed, hemp seeds themselves and the oil produced from them are arguably the world’s most nutritious food. They are sources of essential oils and proteins that our bodies cannot produce themselves, and they provide perfectly balanced omega 3 fatty acids, excellent nutrition for brain and body. If you were abandoned on a desert island with the choice of one food, hemp seeds might be your single best pick. Continue reading

Fly your American grown hemp Star Spangled Banner this Fourth of July

usa flagThis Fourth of July fly your American grown hemp Star Spangled Banner. Oh, that’s  right, you can’t. Americans are prevented from growing hemp by their own DEA. You can get a hemp flag, maybe even one produced in the USA. But not from hemp grown here by American farmers; all this vital raw material must be imported. Chinese farmers and Canadian farmers grow hemp, some for lucrative export to the booming American market. The practice of growing hemp and using it for food, fiber and fabric is thousands of years old in China.

If an American farmer should plant 40 acres in this same industrial, non-psychoactive hemp crop as imported from China to provide to American manufacturers and food producers, he would be considered as the worst sort of criminal by the DEA and federal criminal code, subject to arrest, decades in prison and forfeiture of the family farm. Any production of over 100 plants puts the farmer in jeopardy of severe federal sanctions.

Your inability to buy an American flag made from American-grown hemp is hugely ironic in that the very first American flag was likely made of hemp, a major product in the colonies.The first Declaration was printed on hemp paper.

Now, this Fourth of July, a hemp flag made from newly legalized hemp from Colorado will fly over the capitol building in Washington D.C. Thanks to the intelligent efforts of Reps. Jared Polis D-Colorado, Blumenaur, D-Oregon and Massie, R-Kentucky several pieces of pro-hemp legislation recently put before congress. One right they sought was for universities to be able to study hemp in the states where it is now legal by state law. Such study of hemp for its potential as food, fuel, fiber and fabric are blocked by the DEA, which allows no research on hemp.

 

 

 

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden supports American’s right to grow hemp.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has introduced an amendment to the farm bill to allow American farmers to grow hemp. Currently all hemp raw materials must be imported. The DEA disallows Americans from growing the source plant cannabis sativa, even in the many states where voters, legislatures and governors have acted to allow their farmers and entrepreneurs to profit from hemp. Wyden’s home state of Oregon legalized hemp cultivation in 2009.  Currently, even in these states, planting hemp risks SWAT raids by DEA, forfeiture of land and long imprisonment. The accomplished Democrat Senator seeks to allow American citizens the freedom to help feed thriving markets for the plant’s nutritional and fiber products. The bill, S. 3240 is similar to legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Ron Paul, R-Texas, H.R. 1831. Lucia Graves reports on Wyden’s bill in Huffington Post.

Ironically, this farm bill amendment finally allows Americans farmers to grow perhaps the world’s most nutritious food. The farm bill has been implicated as a prime cause of America’s obesity crisis by subsidizing some of the planet’s least nutritious food. The bill creates a flood of subsidized calories, primarily from corn, including high fructose corn syrup. These excess calories that have swollen the American waistline and have brought the country to a health care precipice. Finally, if this passes, the farm bill amendment S. 3240,  will encourage American farmers to grow and produce hemp seed and its oil, vital sources of essential fatty acids such as omega-3. New research just released shows the cognitive damage caused by excess fructose consumption on the brain and how such damage can be reduced by consumption of fatty acids such as omega-3s.

A better bill would have done more than simply excluding hemp from the definition of “marijuana,” but this is key reform and Senator Wyden (and Ron Paul) are to be commended. Hopefully, the US Congress, currently one of the country’s historically worst, will support American farmers and entrepreneurs by passing this job-creating amendment.

 

DEA’s regulatory morass stifles American capitalism.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Congratulations to Canadian hemp food producer Manitoba Harvest for its new Hemp Hearts. Long a supplier of hemp foods, the Winnipeg company has come up with a new product mix for hemp seeds.

I am happy to be able to purchase this highly nutritious food, filled with brain friendly Omega 3s, essential oils, fiber and protein, even at $16/pound.  As an Oregonian, though, I am sorry that hemp seeds cannot be grown in my state (and country). Farming is an important state industry and Oregon farmers could doubtless produce a bountiful crop of this food Americans so desperately need. How about an Oregon Harvest, instead of having to import what Oregonians could grow. In 2009, Oregon even passed state legislation, signed by the governor and now state law, allowing Oregonians to grow hemp. But no Oregon farmers are growing hemp because the DEA would crush them and take their land in forfeiture if they did, just one of many ways this bloated agency’s regulatory morass stifles American (and Oregon) capitalism. Silly regulations bluntly enforced by the DEA prevent fellow citizens from growing these powerhouse foodstuffs on American soil.

If the DEA had its way, Americans would have no access to hemp seed foods at all. That’s right, perhaps the most nutritious food on earth would not be a choice available to American consumers. Americans being fattened into diabesity by their obesity-inducing diets could not, by DEA mandate, purchase omega-3 rich hemp seed oils nor seeds until quite recently. Until overturned by court order, this federal bureaucracy restricted the rights of Americans to buy and consume hemp seeds, quite possibly the planet’s most nutritious food. Similarly, the rights are stolen from American farmers and entrepreneurs to grow and monetize one of humankind’s oldest crops.

In addition to supplying sublimely nutritious food, hemp is (or would be) one of American industry’s most useful basic resources. Virtually every part of the plant is usable. Fiber and fuel are two key areas.

Superb hemp-based building materials, comparable and even superior to wood provide vast opportunities in construction and manufacturing. In terms of working and building materials, hemp, of course, amplified the productivity of early Americans by providing them rope, canvass and a host of other materials. Deemed such an important contributor to colonial productivity and prosperity, some colonies required the growing of hemp. Its use declined with the availability of seemingly endless forests for wood building materials and with the introduction of oil-base synthetic fibers. With end of exploitative forestry and the passing of cheap oil, hemp fiber again has a great future as a source of construction material, building material and fiber for fabrication. Many building materials incorporating organic material from cannabis sativa are gaining favor.

  • Hemp can be incorporated into fiber board, insulation, and hempcrete, a more natural form of concrete.
  • Productivity with these materials is multiplied. First, they are carbon negative, a crucial consideration in a warming world. Cannabis plant material comprising hempcrete and similar products sequesters carbon away, out of the atmosphere. Such materials may be locally sourced, as hemp can grow nearly anywhere, saving transportation and carbon costs.

Clothing is a basic human need. Hemp fabric is already a preferred material for providing comfortable, hypoallergenic, UV protective cloth.

Using hemp for fuel offers huge American opportunities. Pure hemp seed oil can be used directly by any diesel engine. For now, hemp oil makes for an expensive fuel, but of course, it is against the law to produce it here in the USA. Maybe that has something to do with the high cost.

Of course, it is probable that medical care is the field where cannabis sativa, if freed of DEA strangulation, could make it grandest contribution to American well being and productivity. With the discovery of the endocannabinoid regulatory system in the 1990s, and subsequent exploration of its many functions in human physiology, and entire new area of medical research was opened. Or at least it would have been, had the entire cannabis plant not suffered DEA Schedule 1 status. Nearly all medical research is stymied by this most restrictive classification.

Recent congressional legislation has enhanced DEA scheduling capabilities. In effect, this bloated federal agency is allowed to write it own laws, on its own, by scheduling any substance it chooses. Bizarrely, legislators running on small government, anti-regulation platforms are quick to burden American capitalists with new regulations that benefit only DEA bureaucrats.

So American capitalists, entrepreneurs, farmers and dozens of other productive professions are being denied a hugely important raw material of food, fiber, fuel, medications, literally thousands of products to serve the real needs of Americans. The prosperity and well being of millions of Americans are sacrificed at the bureaucratic alter of the DEA. This is big government at its very worst.

Cannabis dispensaries can be true wellness clinics.

Cannabis dispensaries and clinics are multiplying as citizens of ever-more American states vote to decriminalize medical marijuana. Many use the term “wellness” to describe their wider range of services. In fact, as medical cannabis becomes evermore accepted for the variety of conditions for which the herb provides benefit, dispensaries and clinics really can provide a mechanism for providing true wellness services.

The term “wellness” relates to a high level of health status, not simply the absence of disease, but the presence of behaviors that help prevent disease and cause the body to thrive. This behavioral perspective emphasizes the health practices that provide prevention effects from today’s causes of death and disability. High level wellness indicates a body not just disease-free, but strong, toned, nutritionally well fed, and free of excess tension. Wellness also refers to a relaxed but purposeful mental set, engaged with the world.

Several health behaviors are key determinants of our health status and our health future. A few of the physical activity behavioral goals may be beyond the capabilities of those with serious physical ailments, but serve as important guidelines to all. As a wellness center, the dispensary can communicate these basic practices and their importance to all patients in a variety of unobtrusive and complementary ways.

Virtually every person should:

  • Get sufficient exercise, especially walking.
  • Maintain good body composition with considerable muscle and little to moderate fat.
  • Practice good nutrition, focused on nutrient-dense, calorie-lean foods.
  • Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
  • Cultivate a supportive social life.
  • Manage and reduce stress.

Open Source Health Care

Two huge problems, besides the obscene cost, beset the current state of health care in the USA. One is the general non-availability of cannabinoid medications for most Americans. The other is the lack of prevention perspective; in fact, current “health care” is mainly medical care, focusing on relieving and curing established diseases.   Despite the fact that most of the ailments and diseases afflicting Americans are related to health behaviors, there is very little true prevention effort. The open source health care alternative for the 21st Century will enable people to harness cannabis for pain relief, anti-inflammation, glaucoma prevention and a dozen other conditions for which medical marijuana provides results superior to the mainstream medical/pharmaceutical approach. It will also provide a harm reduction, health promotion, preventive alternative to the current curative medical approach. Both these two problems could be addressed by dispensaries providing cannabinoid-based medications and true wellness services. Such services would address the health behaviors above:

Get sufficient exercise, especially walking. Most Americans walk far to little, depriving themselves of muscle and burdening themselves with fat. Taking at least 10,000 steps each day is a key health behavior of huge value to your health, and a crucial foundation for a preventive, wellness lifestyle. Even better is when some of these steps, or additional steps, are taken a faster pace, such as jogging a mile a day. Dispensaries could encourage patients to aspire to such basic fitness guidelines in a variety of ways:

  • Pedometers retail for $5. Providing each patient with one for no cost as part of the wellness services would send a profound message a hugely useful tool. The pedometer would of course bear the clinic’s logo.
  • Posters at the dispensary could impart more awareness of the 10,000 steps per day guideline.
  • If the clinic does the medical evaluations for eligibility for medical cannabis, this presents a perfect opportunity to encourage physical fitness goals such as 10,000 steps per day.

Maintain good body composition with considerable muscle and little to moderate fat.

America, and much of the world is suffering a crisis in body composition. Our bodies are composed evermore of excess fat. Plus we tend to carry too little muscle. Sufficient walking, see above, is key to building muscle tone and preventing fat, but additional muscle building is a healthy practice. A more muscular body composition helps burn calories, but more importantly provides a basic framework of physical strength that provides preventive and fitness dividends. Dispensaries could help patients gain the benefits of strength training with the same method as above, including posters and other messaging. The question of the obesity of its clients is important to a dispensary. Wanting to, “first, do no harm,” the clinic should confirm that its cannabis medication does not contribute to such problems. Cannabis is very effective at ending the wasting syndrome by helping people eat; its effect on people that are overweight may be less helpful. Obesity might even be seen as a contraindication in the prescription or recommendation of cannabis.

Practice good nutrition, especially nutrient-dense, calorie-lean foods.

  • The clinic or dispensary could educate on the quite incredible nutritional value of cannabis itself, in the form of hemp seed and hemp oil. Hemp seed is perhaps the most nutritious single food source, filled with essential fatty acids and proteins. The omega-3 profile of hemp seed is nearly optimal.
  • Good nutrition sets focus on nutrient-dense, calorie-lean foods, nearly the opposite of an American fast food meal.

Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke. The smoke from cigarettes, inhaled directly or as second-hand smoke, is a deadly toxin that kills over 400,000 Americans each year. Avoiding such exposure is a key preventive behavior. The reduction of cigarette smoking and proliferation of non-smoking areas providing freedom from this toxin have been a major public health victory in the last generation (and it was accomplished with zero SWAT raids and no one going to jail.

Although cannabis smoke appears far safer than cigarette smoke (marijuana smoking is not associated with lung cancer nor emphysema, two of the great risks of cigarette smoking, it is still smoke and contains toxins such as carbon monoxide (CO). Vaporizers provide a safe way to gain the medical benefits of cannabinoids with no exposure to smoke, and should be encouraged, and sold in dispensaries. With vaporizers, medical users can titrate dosages nearly as well as with smoking. In California, clinics, dispensaries and collectives have helped pioneer other ways of medicating with cannabis in a smoke-free manner. Tinctures with alcohol and edibles offer yet other alternatives. Invention, or rather reinvention of these medications (tinctures of cannabis were available to Americans 100 years ago) has been a major contribution of dispensaries in California.

Cultivate a supportive social life. Isolation is detrimental to physical and especially, mental, health. Although most important social interactions occur with family and friends, the dispensaries themselves could help provide some of this social glue so important to health.

Manage and reduce stress. Cannabis itself, especially types rich with a variety of cannabinoids, is a natural stress reducer. Indeed, much of the so called “recreational” use of cannabis helps users maintain a relaxed and happy state of mind. Stress reduction is of course a huge topic and the steps a clinic or dispensary might take are virtually limitless, from yoga classes, to progressive relaxation to massage.

Wellness and open source health care are giant topics that will be revisited.

A Cannabis Productivity Revolution

The liberation of cannabis from repressive laws around the globe will unleash a fountain of true human productivity. New foods, new fuels, new fibers and new medicines will issue forth when people are finally free to explore and expand the gifts of this plant. Americans in particular will be quick to exploit the multiple ways cannabis can serve to amplify human productivity when prohibition ends.

The most basic human needs are air, water and food. Regarding air, most of the physical structure of cannabis and other plants is made up of carbon atoms from carbon dioxide pulled out of the surrounding air. While the plant is consuming carbon from the atmosphere, it is also producing oxygen, each human’s most immediate need. The plant also transpires clean water vapor into the air, moisture that will return to earth as rain.

At its most elemental level, human productivity is about creating or gaining food to feed the family. The cannabis plant makes a stellar addition to humankind’s ability to produce nutritional plant foods. The seeds and oil of Cannabis Sativa are arguably nature’s most perfect foods. Cannabis hemp seeds and oil are filled with precious nutritional gems, including omega-3s, essential fatty acids and essential proteins. Silly regulations bluntly enforced by the DEA prevent fellow citizens from growing these powerhouse foodstuffs on American soil.

Shelled Hemp seed

Shelled Hemp seed

Currently, hemp seed and oil must be imported from China, where it is an ancient food, yet currently consumed each day. More hemp products come from Canada. None are grown in the USA, thanks to the DEA and cannabis’ Schedule I status.

So, let’s get this right, the so-called communist Chinese people have the personal liberty to grow and consume hemp, and to sell it to Americans. But the so-called free Americans are bludgeoned by our own government with long-prison terms and social and financial ruin if we plant this same crop?

Another basic aspect of human productivity is in providing clothing and shelter; people need clothes and they need places to live and to work. Again, hemp fibers from the cannabis plant offer bountiful resources. Hemp textiles are exploding in popularity. Part of their attraction is that cloth from hemp offers great environmental benefits, as compared to cotton.

Hemp textiles and clothing.

Hemp textiles and clothing.

In terms of working and building materials, hemp, of course, amplified the productivity of early Americans by providing them rope, canvass and a host of other materials. Deemed such an important contributor to colonial productivity and prosperity, some colonies required the growing of hemp. Its use declined with the availability of endless forests for wood building materials and with the introduction of oil-base synthetic fibers. With end of exploitative forestry and the passing of cheap oil, hemp fiber again has a great future as a source of construction material, building material and fiber for fabrication.

  • Many building materials incorporating organic material from cannabis sativa are gaining favor.
  • Hemp can be incorporated into fiber board, insulation, and hempcrete, a more natural form of concrete.
  • Productivity with these materials is multiplied. First, they are carbon negative, a crucial consideration in a warming world. Cannabis plant material comprising hempcrete and similar products sequesters carbon away, out of the atmosphere. Such materials may be locally sourced, as hemp can grow nearly anywhere, saving transportation and carbon costs.
  • Paper has been integral to mankind’s productivity ascent, as books and publications allowed idea sharing. But paper, when rendered from the wood of trees, exerts huge environmental costs. Hemp based paper, made from one year-old plants instead of centuries old trees could revolutionize, and clean up, the paper industry. Better paper products for less inputs equals true productivity.

Another aspect of the American economy in vast need of productivity improvements is health care. Huge cost increases in the American system have not resulted in superior health status. Other countries do far more for far less.

Cannabis, again, offers the American health care system a quantum leap from its pharmaceutical-based doldrums. The drug so outlawed by its Schedule I status as having no medical value now demonstrates its overwhelming medical, preventative and palliative benefits. As Americans demand their medical liberty in the coming years, the non-elected bureaucrats in the federal government will not much longer keep from its citizens this medication they demand.

True health care productivity is demonstrated when a patient can dispense with an entire array of debilitating pharmaceutical drugs after finding relief with medical cannabis. This is the actual case for many victims of disease, injury and pain. Relief is attained with far fewer narcotizing opioid drugs when supplemented (or even replaced) by phyto-cannabinoids, pain-relieving, inflammation-reducing, antioxidant molecules from the cannabis plant.

Even now in California, where voters have demanded cannabis medical liberty, health care innovation exploiting the plant is underway. New cannabis strains are being developed to best address the vast array of medical problems treatable with cannabis. Genetic mixtures of phyto-cannabinoids mix cannabinoid molecules such as THC, CBD, and THCV, to better treat different medical conditions. Novel harm-reducing ways of taking cannabis medicine have developed. Smoking has been replaced or supplemented with vaporization along with tinctures, teas, and edibles. The open-source nature of medical cannabis makes its economics exactly the opposite of pharmaceutical drugs it will, in many cases, replace.

Arguably, in a state in desperate need of jobs, innovation and prosperity, the most thriving new industry in California is the cannabis medicine sector.

Harm reduction is a term often associated with drug prohibition and enforcement.  This approach is diametrically opposite the American drug war harm maximization model that uses militarized police, private property forfeiture and decade’s long incarcerations for “crimes” involving nothing but a plant.

Harm minimization can also refer to productivity. Productivity gains made as a result of exploitative activities that cause environmental damage are false. A true productivity gain does not occur if the process of creating the product creates other, larger problems. Productivity is not true if it squanders resources and despoils surroundings. A mine that produces minerals for a few years, then despoils a stream for a century is not a productive resource.

Cannabis and hemp-based foods, fuels, fibers and medications do create opportunities for innovation, propel productivity increase, and gain prosperity in a way that minimizes harm. Every cannabis plant grown sequesters carbon dioxide. It is a local resource, open-source, available to everyone to grow, to innovate, to increase prosperity and to improve health.

The major impediment to these real world solutions are bureaucratic. Cannabis and hemp need to be freed from their dishonest and draconian Schedule I status. The jack-boot of the DEA needs to be removed from the necks of American citizens. Onerous international treaties, those that mandate prohibition of cannabis and its products, need be repudiated.

The planet and its people are in need of productivity and prosperity gains that don’t harm the biosphere. Americans, in this time of economic flux, need be able to explore and to use the huge productive resources of cannabis hemp. Much of this freedom could be attained from the rescheduling, by the President or Attorney General, of cannabis, hemp and cannabinoids from Schedule I to Schedule V.

Cannabis Prohibition: Schedule I idiocy extended 20 years ago today.

20 years ago today, an unelected bureaucrat extended the restrictive Schedule I status of cannabis. On December 30, 1989, DEA administrator Jack Lawn overlooked the evidence from every valid investigation of cannabis and decreed that it would remain on the DEA’s Schedule I, the most restricted status. Despite ample evidence for its medical value, the DEA left it in the only category declared without medical use.

In making his decision, the DEA administrator had the recent opinion of his own DEA law Judge Francis L. Young. Judge Young had investigated the scheduling of marijuana by the DEA. His extensive study reached remarkable conclusions:

  • The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision.
  • Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.
  • Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.
  • It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.

Twenty years ago the DEA administrator acted in just such an unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious manner and refused to down-schedule marijuana, retaining total control of all medical research and quashing any industrial hemp applications. For this next 20 years, cannabis has retained its erroneous federal status as a dangerous drug without medical use.

Millions of Americans had their lives damaged, their property confiscated and their selves imprisoned by unjust laws based on this Schedule I falsehood. For the DEA as a bureaucracy, though, the ruse has been effective. The agency has grown cancerously as law-makers threw money at what they perceived a political asset, the war on drugs. Ten million marijuana arrests in those two decades fueled an enormous drug war industrial complex.

Cannabis remains Schedule I today. President Obama seems unwilling to lift a finger to change this great injustice. Indeed, Obama seems paralyzed in taking even the smallest steps for reform of this cruel and counterproductive policy. He has even failed to replace the current DEA administrator, leaving in place an authoritarian neo-con appointed by George Bush.

Either Barack Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder could begin to right this historic evil by ordering the down regulation of cannabis and all cannabinoids. A Schedule V rating would free cannabis from the DEA boot on its neck. So too, it would free the American people from criminalization and repression by drug war bureaucrats and allow medical cannabis research to flourish.

By the way, a second drug war evil took place on this day. On December 30, 1996, President Bill Clinton authorized a federal attack on recent gains by medical marijuana proponents, specifically California’s Proposition 215, voted in a month and a half earlier. Already overseer of a hugely expanded Justice Department with big jumps in marijuana arrests, prosecutions and jailings, Bill Clinton now sought to specifically override the choice of California voters and prepared an attack on American medical rights that culminated in one of the most egregious modern attacks on the American Freedom of Speech.

Specifically, Clinton and henchmen Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey and representative Rahm Emanuel sought to deny the rights of physicians to speak of the possible utility of medical marijuana. Doctors were threatened with denial to pharmaceutical drugs if they counseled glaucoma victims about the eye pressure-lowering power of marijuana. They were told they might lose their right to practice medicine if they mentioned to the retching patients undergoing chemotherapy that some find nausea relief with cannabis.

Fortunately the courts saw the grievous unconstitutionality of such restrictions and ended this government thought control for doctors and their patients. Despite this setback, every government bureaucracy benefiting from the drug war has continued this attack on the medical rights of their fellow American citizens, rights about which medication they choose with their doctors.

Thanks to StopTheDrugWar.org ‘s Drug War Chronicle’s This Week in History for noting the dates of the above misdeeds.

Global warming as planetary inflammatory disease.

The biosphere of planet earth is in great peril from global warming. In many ways this on-rushing planetary disaster is like an inflammatory disease.

Red deserts of Africa

Red deserts of Africa

Inflammation was described 2,000 years ago in Roman medicine, recognizable as calor, rubor, tumor, and dolor, heat, redness, swelling and pain.  Later the historic physician Galen added loss of function. Although inflammation can be a healthy response to threats such a bacterial infections, it is always stressful and accompanied by cell damage.

Chronic inflammation is key to cellular damage caused by autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis. Inappropriate chronic inflammation is currently seen as basic to a host of modern diseases. Any source of long term inflammation, any condition ending in -itus, such as gingivitis, should be avoided. Obesity is some real ways an inflammatory disease.

The planet Earth now seems afflicted with an inflammatory-like disease.

  • Heat is a prime manifestation of inflammation. Excess heat is also the prime driver of the on-going climate change. The atmosphere of earth, plagued with historically high levels of carbon, is retaining more of the heat energy pouring in from the sun. The earth’s biosphere, the only sphere of life that we know to exist in the entire universe, is suffering from a dangerous warming. Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, are heating up like an injured limb.
  • Redness is a second manifestation of inflammation. Startlingly, new sources of redness have emerged on the earth’s surface and water. Red tides stain the oceans with zones of death. Great rivers carry red earth, eroded from dry hillsides, far out to sea. Dust storms visible from space carry red dust clouds from Africa to spread over Europe. Red dots of flame, visible from space, glow in oil producing areas as gas bi-products are burned off. Other areas of red flame issue from the remains of the world’s rain forests being torched in an equatorial zone of fire stretching around the globe.
  • Swelling is another inflammatory symptom that is reflected in the rising oceans. Sea levels climb not only as great glaciers melt, but also the oceans bulge with warmth. CO2 counts swell in ever higher parts per million of the atmosphere.
  • Pain is an unwelcome manifestation of inflammation. A human feels pain as an injury or autoimmune condition causes inflammatory pressure on nerves and release of pain biochemicals. Unfortunately, people and other lifeforms on the planet are in for a lot of pain as warming shrinks habitats, both from sea level rise and desertification. The melting of river-filling glaciers will cause the pain of great thirst across much of the globe.
  • Loss of function is the last symptom of inflammation. With a significant portion of the world’s human population and economy living and working near the oceans, rising sea levels will inflict incalculable damage and hardship. This at the same time as hundreds of millions displaced by drought seek refuge.

It is a bit startling to compare the inflammation symptoms of the planet with the function of inflammation in the human body. Acute inflammation is a life-saving response. Bacteria entering any small flesh wound would soon multiply enough to kill a human if the person’s body did not answer quickly with an immune response using inflammation. Invading bacteria are killed by this response before their number can rise to the point of danger to life.

Is the planet’s inflammation also a life-saving response, in this case the life of the biosphere? The result of global climate change may be end up reducing the number of carbon producing units on its surface. Six and a half billion people is probably far more than the biosphere can support; the nine billion predicted in 2040 will compete, and probably fight, for ever diminishing land and fresh water.

Continuation of his heating would/will result in catastrophes of colossal proportions. The Copenhagen conference has done little to change things.

Interestingly, the cure, or at least reduction for inflammation on the planetary level might be similar to an effective treatment for humans suffering inflammation. A subsequent post will explore how cannabis can moderate inflammation, not just in the human body, but also for the planet Earth.

Drug War Idiocy – Importing hemp from China

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp

China is currently the world’s largest producer of hemp and exports fiber and seed products to the USA. World trade opportunities are growing rapidly for hemp seed, hemp oil and fiber, textiles and other products of the plant cannabis. Only the USA is being left behind, a consumer, not a producer, of new green agricultural products that provide food, fuel and industrial and textile fibers.

American hemp entrepreneurs are crushed beneath the heels of tax-paid bureaucrats. Green, tax-paying jobs and products are being sacrificed to the whims of the DEA, a self-serving government agency working to maintain its power and enormous budgets.

Hemp seed is arguably the humankind’s single most nutritious food. To its shame, the DEA tried to ban Americans from all access to this food in the 1990’s. The agency, by administrative fatwa declared that because of THC content, no hemp product could be even imported, much less grown domestically. The federal bureaucrats were finally dissuaded from their dishonorable hack only by the courts. Their efforts to deprive their countrymen of nutritionally supreme products such as hulled hemp seeds were declared to be over-reaching by one of the few good court decisions of the drug war.  A federal court rejected the DEA’s strangle-hold on hemp food.

The current situation where Americans import hemp seeds and products from China (along with Canada and other countries) illustrates, in microcosm, the USA’s perilous economic situation. China sells 4 times more to the USA than it buys. American money and assets flow to China, now holder of nearly  a trillion $ of US debt. Chinese goods and products, including foodstuffs such as hemp seeds and fiber products, flow to the USA.  Dollars to pay for them flow to China. For Americans to be importers, not exporters, of such an agricultural product is ludicrous. American farmers are the most productive on earth, at least when not crippled by inane federal restrictions. The free market in the USA for the potentially highly valuable hemp crop has been crushed by the DEA. Like the apparatchiks of the Soviet Union telling farmers what to grow, the bureaucrats at the DEA exercise total control, backed by vast powers of punishment.

A dozen states, Oregon the latest, have passed laws specifically trying to give their farmers and entrepreneurs the freedom to produce and profit from hemp. But there is a catch. No American can currently grow even one cannabis plant without breaking federal law and risking ruin by the DEA.

The success of the Canadian company, Manitoba Harvest, is impressive. It demonstrates the type of innovative, entrepreneurial and jobs-providing enterprise the natural resource of hemp can provide. FoodBizDaily reports:

  • Hemp foods are one of the hottest health food trends in North America, and a fast-growing Canadian company is demonstrating that there is a healthy appetite for nutritious hemp foods overseas.
  • Due to a vigorous international sales initiative over the past few years by Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils (www.manitobaharvest.com), exports of their hemp foods beyond North America have skyrocketed more than 500% over the past year.  So far in 2009, the company has exported products to eight nations (in addition to the United States) including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan.

Good for Manitoba and Canada, but let us also have a Montana Harvest, and Oregon Harvest and Idaho Harvest of hemp. Such success could be emulated by American hemp farmers and entrepreneurs, were they free of the bureaucrats and ill-conceived laws that restrict them. Growing hemp for nutritious food, strong material, fine fabric and alternative fuel is the most basic kind of productive activity, adding value by feeding, clothing, sheltering, transporting and employing people. For Americans to be denied participation in this productive, innovative, worldwide hemp boom is a disgrace. This is a clear example of another way drug war idiocy is crippling the USA. Supposedly living in the land of the free, Americans are not free to grow, thrive and prosper this extraordinary plant resource.

A great resource for promoting hemp is Vote Hemp. The single issue advocacy group provides useful political tools, such as an automated way to write your congress person and request support of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009. Let American be growers, producers and entrepreneurs of hemp based products! We will export hemp foods, fibers, and fuels to the world!

Victory for hemp in Oregon!

With the signature of Governor Ted Kulongoski, Oregon has agreed to allow its citizens the freedom to farm and develop industrial hemp. Hemp is one of humankind’s oldest and most useful crops. It provides great value in thousands of uses. A century ago hemp was an important American crop. The renaissance of hemp cultivation in the USA could provide a major stimulus of true productivity to a country sorely in need of solutions. Hemp can help provide for the most elemental of human needs, by producing food to eat, fibers to wear and materials for building products and structures.

After passing with big majority in both of the house and senate in Oregon, and now signing by the state;s chief executive, Oregon has declared an independence from a smothering federal policy on industrial hemp. Oregon freedom fighter Sen. Floyd Prozanski was the sponsor of state Senate Bill 676. The state senator has sponsored similar bills going back to 1997.  Prozanski commented,

Unlike its pioneering bottle bill, Oregon was not the first state to free the production and use of hemp. Over a half dozen other American states now allow use of hemp for for fiber, food and fuel. The actual senate bill language hints at some of these productive uses:

Oregon’s law is different from most of the new state laws freeing up the farming of hemp in that it does not require a permit from the DEA. This unreasonable requirement by most of the states is a non-starter as the DEA would never grant such a permit. Oregon is also the first western state to begin to free this resource from the federal DEA bureaucracy.  The Beaver State is first in the west only because California governor Arnold Swartzenegger twice vetoed hemp freedom legislation that had passed California’s legislature.

The change in Oregon law, however, does nothing to change the asinine and cruel federal designation of cannabis sativa as a Schedule I drug with draconian restrictions on its cultivation. In the eyes of the DEA, it may be a capital crime to grow a field of hemp. Although hemp has very few of the cannabinoids that give other forms of cannabis their mild psychoactivity, the DEA could still persecute any large hemp grow as a grave federal crime. Just how hemp agriculture will get underway in Oregon (and other states) is unclear.

  • Any Oregon farmer brave enough to exercise his new state’s right to grow a hemp crop could be fairly certain he or she would be inviting a raid by dozens of armed, armored, jack-booted and masked government goons. Arrest at gunpoint while sprawled on the ground would quickly follow, then land forfeiture, months of prosecution and perhaps years of imprisonment.

A solution to the increasingly assertive voice of the American people demanding change on cannabis/hemp issues, changed gained through state initiatives or legislation, is to reschedule cannabis sativa. Changing it from Schedule I down to Schedule V would avoid catastrophic raids and persecutions. Americans could regain the productive resources from hemp, and curative medicines from cannabis, that they enjoyed a century ago.

In any case, Oregon’s actions help unleash Oregonian entrepreneurs wishing to develop hemp crops and products from their choke-hold by federal bureaucrats. Oregon’s governor and legislators, especially Senator Floyd Prozanski, deserve thanks and praises for this liberating legislation. Hopefully, federal changes will allow Oregonians to use hemp to provide people with food, clothing, shelter and fuel.