Hemp: A Help Or A Hindrance?

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Hemp: A Help or a Hindrance? Hemp, also known as Cannabis sativa, marijuana, grass, and by many other names, has not been a legal commercial crop in the United States for almost sixty years. As common two centuries ago as cotton is today, hemp is not seen on the market. As many groups fight for hemp to become legalized as a drug, many people are battling for the plant to become legalized for its industrial and medical uses. From Disney Indiana Jones hats to fuel for our automobiles, hemp is a hardworking, environmentally sound renewable resource. People have become so wrapped up in the "drug" aspect of marijuana that many are forgetting its uses as an industrial material. Hemp is an ancient drug, first mentioned in a Chinese manuscript in 2700 BC. Its uses included treating gout, malaria, gas pains, and absent-mindedness. Hemp was an integral part of early Indo-European religious ceremonies for thousands of years. Records from Assyria in 650 BC referred to it as a drug called azulla that was used for making rope and cloth, and which was also used for experiencing euphoria. Hempen sails brought the Spanish, Dutch, and British conquerors to the new world (Charpentier 18). In North America, hemp was planted near Jamestown in 1611 for use in making rope. In order to keep a constant supply of hemp available, a law was passed in Massachusetts in 1639, requiring every household to plant hemp seed. In Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, hemp was even used as a monetary unit. Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence, released by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, was written on paper made from hemp (Whole Earth Review 46). And the 49ers washed gold from California creeks in Levi's made from hemp. In 1937, the United States government passed the Marijuana Tax Act which prohibited the use of marijuana as an intoxicant and regulated its use as a medicine. Although there are hundreds of ingredients in marijuana, the main ingredient is a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC affects the brain and the circulatory system, especially the heart. This makes the heart beat faster and causes small blood vessels to expand. This is the most visible in the eyes, where tiny capillaries swell and fill with blood, giving the eyes a bloodshot look (Ravage 6). Marijuana had its day of glory in the 1960s. Casual use was widespread, mai... ... middle of paper ... ...aren't afraid to take the risk. The government may not approve of this, but it is going to happen. Legalize hemp to be used for its practical purposes. For many years, there has been debate on whether or not to legalize marijuana. Hemp has been used in many ways. From using it to get high, to making paper for money. Throughout its history the plant has been very useful. It has proven to be a valuable asset to our economy and is something that cannot simply be brushed away. Although there are many people that abuse it, they are far many more people that can benefit from its legalization. Works Cited "Tree Free Paper." Whole Earth Review Fall 1993: 46 Charpentier, Sean. "Kentucky's Tobacco vs. Hemp." Dollars and Sense May-June 1991: 18 "Can hemp help Northwest solve its timber problem?" Wood Technology May-June 1993 : 8 Ravage, Barbara. "Hemp or Health?" Current Health 2 Oct 1994 : 6 Mason, Alan. "Hemp for Victory." Whole Earth Review Fall 1993 : 48 Barry, John Byrne. "Is grass really greener?" Sierra Nov-Dec 1995 : 22 "Marijuana use among teens nearly doubles in two years." USA Today Nov 10, 1995 : Money

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