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AB 1147: Good for Cali
April 14, 2005 10:57 PM   Subscribe

What's Matt Smokin'? (In response to "Dumb as a Potted Plant.")
posted by xowie (31 comments total)

 
I appreciate this post a lot, being an ex-Californian living in Germany who can't keep up on the once-local news so easily. I've long regretted the USA's ban on hemp growing because of those stupid anti-hemp legislators in the '30s. It's way, way overdue, but I was glad to hear it's finally happening.

And I don't know Matt Smith's stuff, but what an interesting change to see the boring politician kick the dynamic young writer's ass!
posted by sninky-chan at 11:26 PM on April 14, 2005


It's good to see one of these weekly rags get smacked down when they needed it - sometimes the Stranger puts out some real shite and I wish people cared enough to write a reasoned counterpoint like this guy. The issue they are 'debating' here, however, seems pretty clear cut. Hemp has little or nothing to do with pot. It's just a useful, profitable crop outlawed a long time ago for no good reason. Time to correct that.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:47 PM on April 14, 2005


If Canada only grows 13,000 acres then I seriously doubt that hemp is a miracle crop, as so many claim.

It should be legal, of course - hemp's ban has no rational basis.

But Mark Leno is full of shit - I see plenty of modern hippies arguing passionately for hemp's legalization. I've never seen a pro-hemp rally full of his " white, middle-class, Christian folk from Kentucky, [and] Virginia".

There is nothing wrong with this. It is, however, vaguely offensive that he is using white, middle-class, and Christian as a barometer to measure social acceptability.
posted by kanewai at 1:56 AM on April 15, 2005


Actually, I think he was just trying to illustrate that white, middle-class, and Christian backed lobbyists are the other side of the spectrum from the drug using thieves and rapists of whom we are so abhorrent.

So what's the story with making hemp illegal? I've heard many a tale in the stoner circle, but nothing I'd put above whimsical speculation.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 2:39 AM on April 15, 2005


kanewai: he was using them (the descendents of hemp growers) as the counterweigh to the idea of "reefer freaks," i.e., pot-smokers who have attached the ban on industrial hemp growing along with medicinal marijuana to gradually chink the armour of prohibition. It's the same as using doctors as counterweights to the pot-smokers in medicinal marijuana. It adds a lot of legitimacy to the movement.

What I don't understand is how I have a hemp wallet (made in the USA) and necklace, my stepmother uses hemp shampoo, and my father has hemp rope in his garage... so is it just imported? That makes no sense... you can import something but can't grow it domestically? Maybe this is the direction anti-prohibitionists need to take, "I swear I bought this ounce in Toronto! We didn't grow it!"
posted by trinarian at 2:45 AM on April 15, 2005


kanewai: he was using them (the descendents of hemp growers) as the counterweight to the idea of "reefer freaks," i.e., pot-smokers who have attached the ban on industrial hemp growing along with medicinal marijuana to gradually chink the armour of prohibition. It's the same as using doctors as counterweights to the pot-smokers in medicinal marijuana. It adds a lot of legitimacy to the movement.

What I don't understand is how I have a hemp wallet (made in the USA) and necklace, my stepmother uses hemp shampoo, and my father has hemp rope in his garage... so is it just imported? That makes no sense... you can import something but can't grow it domestically? Maybe this is the direction anti-prohibitionists need to take, "I swear I bought this ounce in Toronto! We didn't grow it!"
posted by trinarian at 2:46 AM on April 15, 2005


/ notes that hitting stop button after noticing a type doesn't always stop the post
posted by trinarian at 2:47 AM on April 15, 2005


Maybe it was the hemp, trinarian?
posted by fixedgear at 2:57 AM on April 15, 2005


kanewai, I see that hemp only became legal in Canada again in 1998. I'm guessing that it's sufficiently novel that domestic markets for it are slow to develop -- it hasn't been grown there for a long time. That's something that Mark Leno doesn't discuss much: it's not as if there's an industry and infrastructure all lined up and waiting for the stuff, so the use of it would have to develop over time. Maybe if BP and Shell discovered you could economically extract 93-octane gasoline from it...
posted by alumshubby at 3:25 AM on April 15, 2005


I think he was just trying to illustrate that white, middle-class, and Christian backed lobbyists are the other side of the spectrum from the drug using thieves and rapists of whom we are so abhorrent.

Given the politics of the past two years, I don't really see that they are the antithesis of 'drug using thieves and rapists'. Quite the opposite, actually.

I fully understand that he needs to distance the bill from all you lovely Bay Area pot-smoking freaks if it is going to succeed. But I have a hard time buying that this "white/middle class/Christian" troika lends legitimacy to anything these days. In a different year I might not have noticed. But when you're under attack [and oh my yes, I feel the foundations of our country are under attack by 'people of faith' these days], these things seem to stand out in a harsher light.
posted by kanewai at 4:39 AM on April 15, 2005


I'm sure it's a useful plant and all. But it annoys me that people are so pro-hemp-- ostensibly for practical reasons but secretly because they see cultivation of non-pharma hemp as a stepping stone to getting baked legally.

Imagine, if you will, that cultivating hydrangea was outlawed because of some stupid hysteria. Now imagine that I printed out leaflets touting the good quality of hydrangeas, tried to work them into conversations with people, and wrote articles for newspapers about this injustice. You would think I was obsessed and nutty, and rightfully so.

Cut the shit already and say "I would like to legally allowed to smoke weed."
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:42 AM on April 15, 2005


/ notes that hitting stop button after noticing a type doesn't always stop the post

/notes that stopping the browser wouldn't have much to do with what the server does.
posted by quonsar at 5:47 AM on April 15, 2005


kanewai : " If Canada only grows 13,000 acres then I seriously doubt that hemp is a miracle crop, as so many claim."

As has been pointed out, it's only been legal since 1998, and this year will see a 44% increase since last year. That's quite an increase.

trinarian : " What I don't understand is how I have a hemp wallet (made in the USA) and necklace, my stepmother uses hemp shampoo, and my father has hemp rope in his garage... so is it just imported?"

Apparently so:
Article: "This single company, one of 50 hemp companies in California, spends over $350,000 a year importing hemp oil from England for soap and hemp seed from Canada"

trinarian: "/notes that hitting stop button after noticing a type doesn't always stop the post

quonsar: "/notes that stopping the browser wouldn't have much to do with what the server does."

/notes that that is what trinarian was noting.
posted by Bugbread at 6:04 AM on April 15, 2005


[takes a bong hit in retaliation]
posted by Mach5 at 6:33 AM on April 15, 2005


{sees your bong hit and raises}
posted by tr33hggr at 6:38 AM on April 15, 2005


being an ex-Californian living in Germany who can't keep up on the once-local news so easily...

Bollucks! FPP is a link to SF Weekly, here's the Bay Guardian, here's Pacifica radio (no live stream unfortunately, but archives of recent shows); finding the SF Chronicle, SJ Mercury-News, and Oakland Trib are left as exercises for the reader. I think San Fran is actually about the easiest English-speaking city to keep up with from remote, barring NYC and London, I suppose.

This single company, one of 50 hemp companies in California, spends over $350,000 a year importing hemp oil from England.... Has Matt not yet heard of our nation's growing half-trillion-dollar trade deficit?

Now that's some balls, implying that $350 grand is a substantial step towards remedying a $500 billion trade defecit. It's 0.00007 percent! Way to go, Dr. Bronner's! Now we only need 14,000 more like you.
posted by rkent at 6:44 AM on April 15, 2005



Now that's some balls, implying that $350 grand is a substantial step towards remedying a $500 billion trade defecit. It's 0.00007 percent! Way to go, Dr. Bronner's! Now we only need 14,000 more like you.
posted by rkent at 6:44 AM PST on April 15 [!]


If you read your own pull quote, it says that the company is one of FIFTY hemp companies in California. Given our laws, those FIFTY companies also have to import their hemp. So, let's mutlitply 350K by 50. That gives us 17.5 million. Now let's assume that there are some other companies in other states also importing hemp. Let's say there are only ONE in each of the other 49 states. That gives us another 17 million. That brings the number to 34.5 million per year.

Now, let's say we abolish the law on growing hemp. Don't you think that might eliminate trepidation on the part of other companies to use more hemp? You see where I'm going here?
posted by spicynuts at 7:11 AM on April 15, 2005


{raises both bong hits with a vaporizer hit}

Seriously, though. Nice point/couterpoint. Good post.
posted by brand-gnu at 7:32 AM on April 15, 2005


Well, I would like to legally grow high-thc hemp and then smoke it.

One of the most annoying things about the pro hemp movement is that they insist that "hemp" and "marijuana" are different plants, that "hemp" has a low content of THC, or even none at all!. Hemp is just an English word for the plant.

The problem I see with legalizing hemp is that you can't tell how much THC a plant has by looking at it. So if you had a hemp farm, you could grow high-potency stuff with the rest of it, and no one would know. It would make law enforcement more difficult, because if you were growing hemp in your house, the police would not only need to see it, but also know that it was "weed" and not "hemp".

Personally I'd consider those both to be positives, but yeah I believe most pro-hemp people support hemp in all it's gradients of potency. Too bad some farmers are getting a bad deal out of it, I guess, but given the pervasiveness of pot-smoking there's no reason to think that just because they are white people from Kansas they're not stoners.
posted by delmoi at 7:37 AM on April 15, 2005


The problem I see with legalizing hemp is that you can't tell how much THC a plant has by looking at it.

So how does Europe and Canada deal with this issue? If they can handle over and up there, is there any reason we can't handle it here?
posted by spicynuts at 7:43 AM on April 15, 2005


Well, for one thing, I don't have a list of the 50 companies he's talking about so I can't tell for sure, but I bet he'd pick one of the most prominent, hemp-usin'-est companies he could find for his example, so I'm betting most of the others (in-state at least) are lower and we could knock that estimate in half. But it doesn't really matter, since we're talking about multiplying seven hundred-thousandths of a percent (!) by either 50 or 100, which can't bring us up to more than seven ten-thousandths. Of a percent. I'm curious what portion of the entire trade deficit is made of hemp products; that's all that could possibly be eliminated by domestic production.

Anyway, I don't oppose domestic hemp production; I think it's rather ridiculous to ban production of such a strong and multi-useful fiber. My point is just that to assert it's going to make a substantial dent in the trade deficit is kind of ... bold. In a "I can't believe he really said that" way.

Also, on preview, delmoi: wouldn't it actually be problematic to integrate drug plants into a field of industrial hemp? I think the cross-pollination would ruin one or both of them. Not that the DEA is about to be persuaded by logic, but still.
posted by rkent at 7:49 AM on April 15, 2005


which can't bring us up to more than seven ten-thousandths

Um... 0.00007 x 100 = 0.007, seven thousandths of a percent. Sorry; in a previous life I could do math.
posted by rkent at 7:51 AM on April 15, 2005


If Canada only grows 13,000 acres then I seriously doubt that hemp is a miracle crop, as so many claim.

There's insufficient room here to discuss all the many impediments there are to the growth of Canada's hemp industry, but here's a quick list that someone like this Matt Smith might want to consider before decreeing that the "free" market has spoken:

- incredibly complex legislation, including all kinds of complicating provisions designed to appease the just-say-no crowd and the DEA, such as not permitting hemp cultivation within some radius (I seem to recall five km) of a school, etc.

- enormous barriers to cross-border trade in the commodity with Canada's primary trading partner (just look at how well Canada's cattle industry has done without reasonably unfettered access to the US market)

- enormous political pressure and legal harassment from the DEA and the rest of America's lucrative war-on-drugs industry to impede, slow, and otherwise curtail the growth of the hemp industry

And despite this, as others in this thread have pointed out, the hemp crop in Canada is slowly growing and finding niche markets. As to whether it could, for example, seriously challenge the timber industry as the main source of pulp for paper - a claim made by many advocates - this will only ever be legitimately field-tested in some utopian future age in which DEA agents know the difference in terms of potential social harm between a bushel of hemp and a vial of heroin.
posted by gompa at 10:16 AM on April 15, 2005


But it annoys me that people are so pro-hemp-- ostensibly for practical reasons but secretly because they see cultivation of non-pharma hemp as a stepping stone to getting baked legally.

But there are practical reasons that people avoid listening to because once they hear a reference to hemp they immediately think "those crazy stoners, always going on about the weed".

they see cultivation of non-pharma hemp as a stepping stone to getting baked legally.

So how again does cultivation of a non-pharmaceutical product lead to pharmaceutical use? We still allow cultivation of California Poppies even though they are close relatives to the (more) pharmaceutically active Opium Poppies. They have little to no pharmaceutical value, but maybe we should ban them, I mean, those "scientists" and "gardeners" that grow them - ostensibly for their beauty or to "study" them are obviously just interested in them as a stepping stone to smoking opium legally.

Imagine, if you will, that cultivating hydrangea was outlawed because of some stupid hysteria. Now imagine that I printed out leaflets touting the good quality of hydrangeas, tried to work them into conversations with people, and wrote articles for newspapers about this injustice. You would think I was obsessed and nutty, and rightfully so.

Or maybe not?

Cut the shit already and say "I would like to legally allowed to smoke weed."

Well, most of them do, but then their rational viewpoints on the usefulness of hemp industrial processes are often overshadowed by their separate desire to also have recreational cannabis. Huh. I wonder where they got that half-baked idea?

Now that's some balls, implying that $350 grand is a substantial step towards remedying a $500 billion trade deficit.

I think what he was implying is that hemp cultivation would be an additional source of value, not that Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap was going to take care of the deficit. Yes, it's a very political thing to do, but he is a politician, and more trade isn't usually a bad thing.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:43 AM on April 15, 2005


their rational viewpoints on the usefulness of hemp industrial processes are often overshadowed by their separate desire to also have recreational cannabis.

I think the pro-hemp lobby tends to lose it's rationality in hyperbole. An article from the
Christian Science Monitor
claims that hemp will be used to make circuit boards, cars [!], fibers stronger than steel, and fuel. Other sites argue that it will stop erosion, promote biodiversity, reverse the trade deficit, save family farms, and free us from dependence on oil. It's all rather much - hemp is legal in most countries, and most face much worse environmental and economic crises than we do.

The legalization argument I like best, from the same article, was that: When hemp cross-pollinates with marijuana, it cuts the drug's potency in half, making it useless for illicit purposes.

Modern pot is so damn strong that I can't smoke anymore. One hit knocks my ass out. Weaken it by cross-breeding pot with hemp and many of us will be able to enjoy again those mellow highs that disappeared from the scene so many decades ago.
posted by kanewai at 11:26 AM on April 15, 2005


Also the first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging deeper.

trinarian : so is it just imported? That makes no sense... you can import something but can't grow it domestically?

Yep thanks for contibuting to our trade surplus.
posted by Mitheral at 11:27 AM on April 15, 2005


I thought you meant this Matt.
posted by chai-rista at 12:04 PM on April 15, 2005


trinarian : so is it just imported? That makes no sense... you can import something but can't grow it domestically?

I seem to recall there are all manner of products like this, at one point I heard that neoprene could not be made in this country because the process is too toxic, yet it is widely sold here. (a quick google search didn't turn up anything definitive)
posted by edgeways at 12:41 PM on April 15, 2005


So how does Europe and Canada deal with this issue? If they can handle over and up there, is there any reason we can't handle it here?
My guess is that they don't worry about it too much, at least in Canada. Why worry about hemp plantations when every second house seems to have a grow op ?

The idea that since "potheads" seem to be the main proponents of legalizing hemp that somehow the cause is less important is a red herring. Some claims about its utility may be overblown, but arguing that point seems a bit ironic, considering the reefer madness hysteria that got it banned in the first place. That's why potheads and hemp advocates are so intertwined; if you see through the misinformation on one issue, you probably see through the misinformation on the other.
posted by jimmy76 at 1:26 PM on April 15, 2005


Just a note, I make soap and other body products. And while I'm nowhere near the commercial venture that Dr. Bonner is, I too have to import hempseed oil, when I'd just as soon be able to buy it from the ranch next door when I went to pick up goat's milk, if I could. It has a short shelf life, and needs to be kept cold. Eliminating the shipping surcharges would drastically impact my bottom line, and the prices I have to charge for the products that contain it.

As to why people would want containing hempseed oil, it is an excellent source of important fatty acids such as Omega-6 Linoleic acid and Omega-3 Linoleic acid. In addition, it contains Gamma-Linoleic Acid (GLA) which helps to provide antioxidant protection. It is unique in its ability provide a perfect proportion of these fatty acids. These fatty acid components help to protect our skin from excessive water and moisture loss.

Hemp oil contains 57% linoleic (LA) and 19% linolenic (LNA) acids, in the three-to-one ratio that matches our nutritional needs. These are the essential fatty acids (EFAs)-so called because the body cannot make them and must get them from external sources. The best sources are oils from freshly ground grains and whole seeds, but EFAs are fragile and quickly lost in processing. EFAs are the building blocks of longer chain fats, such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that occur naturally in the fat of cold-water fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, bluefish, herring, and, to a lesser extent, tuna.

It's quite a treat for your skin. And, oh my goodness, you should see how shiny and lovely hair becomes when HO is applied. Also, it's an interesting cooking oil which adds a piquant nutty flavor to sauteed vegetables.

[homer voice] Sativa, sweet sativa...is there anything it can't do? [/homer]
posted by dejah420 at 5:40 PM on April 15, 2005


This thread has been such a nice illustration of the original point it raises, namely how ignorant people feel empowered to talk smack about things like legalizing the cultivation of low-THC cannabis as an industrial crop, because, you know - silly goddam stoners!

There is in fact a significant pro-industrial-hemp contingent in the U.S. that has an attitude towards the legalization of marijuana that ranges from neutral to firmly against. I know this not because I like to generalize my experience with tie-dyed jackasses in college to some ignorant generalization to smear around the internet but because I met with and worked with these people and researched their efforts when I worked with the alternative industrial materials group of an internationally known public policy think tank back in the mid-90's. Hemp can be simply an agricultural issue: it is an internationally significant fiber and oilseed crop and many US farmers want a piece of the action.

There are also pro-marijuana advocates who recognize that there are benefits to the industrial and medicinal legalization of cannabis that could be realized apart from the more controversial legalization of cannabis the intoxicant, and would like society to realize those benefits even if it is not ready to legalize marijuana. And of course there are those who don't really give a rat's ass about industrial or medicinal hemp and just see them as wedge issues on the way to their ultimate goal. And what exactly is wrong with that? It is the most ordinary sort of politics in the world. Reversing the (arguably) irrational demonization of the cannabis species by degrees is a perfectly sensible and ethical approach.

Anyone who argues that hemp is industrially or medically insignificant is arguing from a position of ignorance, plain and simple. If you don't know what you're talking about, try keeping your mouth shut and trying to learn something instead.
posted by nanojath at 9:31 PM on April 15, 2005


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