Video of presentation coming in March so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vote Industrial Hemp: A Practical Policy Issue that Fosters Globalization

written by Jeff Meints


Sometimes in life a person comes across new knowledge that makes them question past beliefs, teachings and points of view. Certain words, issues, images, and subjects that once repulsed them to the core suddenly become compelling curiosities. This curiosity arises from the simple lack of knowledge and only through inquiry can a curiosity be put to rest. When that knowledge is attained it can shake the very foundation of reality and the truth discovered can change everything. My reality was shaken when I learned the truth that the hemp plant is not a drug and cannot be used as a drug, yet the United States government currently defines the hemp plant as a drug through the Controlled Substance Act. A question quickly manifested within my mind, “Why the confusion over hemp and marijuana?”

In this paper I will make the separation or distinction between the hemp plant and the marijuana plant through scientific and legal evidence. I will prove that the hemp plant through the Industrial Hemp Farming Act 2011 is indeed a practical policy issue for the United States and that the legalization of the hemp plant would benefit the United States environment, health, technology and trade in addition to fostering the idea of globalization.

The Separation of the Hemp plant and the Marijuana plant

Cannabis can be thought of as an umbrella term, or as I call it “the family tree,” and within that family tree there exists the hemp plant and the marijuana plant. Each of these plants are different varieties of the same species which means that the hemp plant contains 0.03% tetrahydrocannabinol or THC while the marijuana plant can contain from 3% to 12% or higher tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol is a naturally occurring chemical in Cannabis and in high concentrations it can be used as a medicine or drug such as in the case of marijuana plants, but not in the case of hemp plants (Ballanco, 1995, Pp. 92).

Why the confusion over hemp and marijuana? Cannabis became a very propagandized issue in the 1900’s due to movies like Reefer Madness and in 1937 Cannabis was criminalized through the Controlled Substance Act which “Schedules” drugs and substances into six Schedules (CSA, 2011 and Reefer Madness, 1930). There are three guidelines per Schedule that place a drug or substance into one of the six Schedules such as Schedule I guidelines which are a high potential for abuse, there is no current medical value and there is a lack of accepted safe or medical use (CSA, 2011). Cannabis was placed into Schedule I in 1937 and the public had no other choice but to accept the false stereotype that hemp and marijuana are the same plant denying the public the power of social scientific thinking (Hoover, 2008, Pp. 1). This raises the question that if the hemp plant has health benefits yet is not a drug and cannot be used as a drug then why is the hemp plant currently defined through the Controlled Substance Act, Schedule 1, as a lethal and highly addictive drug with no medical value?” (CSA, 2011).

Scientifically it is clear that the hemp plant and the marijuana plant are not the same plant and there also exist legal evidence of this separation or distinction between the two plants. One example of this separation is exemplified through American state laws where the separation of the hemp plant and the marijuana plant are already in place. There are states such as Kentucky who have legalized the hemp plant while leaving the criminalization of marijuana in place and there is Nevada who has legalized marijuana yet leaves the hemp plant criminalized (NORML, 2011 and ProCon, 2011). Research in Hawaii, North Dakota and Vermont is exploring the separation of the hemp plant and the marijuana plant in addition to the potential profitability of the hemp plant (Vantreese, 1998, Pp. 20). Our friendly neighbor Canada grows the hemp plant and Canadian hemp is certified organic. The Canadian hemp industry is regulated by government agencies that monitor and control the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in hemp fields ensuring that there are no marijuana plants (Canada, 2011, Pp. 2).

In 2004 the Drug Enforcement Agency was ruled against in the case of Hemp Industries Association v Drug Enforcement Administration after the Drug Enforcement Agency attempted to place hemp seeds into Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act. The 9th Circuit, United States Court of Appeals ruled that only marijuana and synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol or synthetic THC are to be applied to Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act excluding hemp seeds and hemp food products (HIA v DEA, 2004). One year later in 2005, the Congressional Research Service found that the United States was the only remaining developed nation where the hemp plant has not yet become an established agricultural crop (Smith-Heisters, 2008, Pp. 30).

The legal precedents of the separation of the hemp plant and the marijuana plant are evident. There is an obvious scientific and legal separation or distinction of the hemp plant from the marijuana plant and now this paper will focus strictly upon the hemp plant leading us back to the question, “If the hemp plant or the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011 was accepted as a practical policy issue and legalization occurred in the United States how would it benefit the environment, health, technology and trade in addition to fostering the idea of globalization?”


The hemp plant is one of the most environmentally beneficial plants on the face of the planet. That is by far the grand canyon of all claims so let me attempt to demonstrate why the claim might possess a degree of validity. In Russia, the power plant at Chernobyl melted down and to this day the environment is contaminated by radiation. Scientists began using the hemp plant to remove the radioactive waste from the soil due to the hemp plant’s soil cleansing attributes (Smith-Heisters, 2008, Pp. 24-25). In addition, there are numerous contaminated areas or sites around the world from cadmium and copper mines which the hemp plant can assist in revitalizing and cleansing the soil (Kozlowski, 1995, Pp. 86). There are currently over 10,000 waste sites in the United States that require state funded clean up and the hemp plant can be used for that clean up as demonstrated in Chernobyl (Waste, 2011). Solutions will soon be needed for Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster which will no doubt require some means of radioactive cleanup. Drought tolerant as well as disease and pest durable further displays the environmental benefits of the hemp plant when considering issues such as water shortages or the $9.6 billion dollars spent by industry to clean up pollution created by pesticides and herbicides. There are currently no new technologies that can even compare to the environmental cleansing properties of the hemp plant (Smith-Heisters, 2008, Pp. 5, 9).

Fuel independence for the United States was once speculated could be achieved through the overproduction of corn in order to produce ethanol fuel. However, a problem arises of requiring a crop rotator because corn drains and depletes the nutrients and nitrogen from soil. The hemp plant possesses an attribute which returns nutrients and nitrogen back into soil making it an ideal crop rotator (VoteHemp, 2000, Pp. 24). Also, during combustion the hemp plant burns as a carbon neutral fuel and energy source, and when burned creates an ash that contains beneficial nutrients and nitrogen for soil (Hemp Technology, 2009).

The hemp plant produces twice the oxygen of most plants and at high altitudes where the oxygen is thin the hemp plant can exceed tree oxygen production equating to more carbon dioxide or CO2 intake (Kozlowski, 1995, Pp. 87 and Smith-Heister, 2008, Pp. 6). In theory, the hemp plant’s immense carbon dioxide and methane intake could be used to improve air quality by planting hemp along our freeways, highways, cow pastures and installing hemp greenhouses on top of all the office buildings in smog ridden cities like Los Angeles. The hemp plants along our freeways and highways could assist in absorbing car exhaust and the hemp in our pastures could absorb methane gases created by cow farts and decomposing compost. The hemp plant greenhouses on top of the office buildings could be used city sky filters. The hemp plant could assist in reducing dramatic global climate change by assisting in the reduction of greenhouses gases worldwide which is currently a global concern (MacIver, 2008, Pp. 185). Yielding around three to four times as much paper as would an acre of trees creates the possibility that the hemp plant could assist in reducing deforestation. Houses made from hemp wood composite, insulation and other construction materials possess carbon neutral attributes making these hemp houses more energy efficient, better insulated and fire durable (Smith-Heisters, 2008, Pp. 6).

It is difficult to know the full environmental benefits of the hemp plant due to current criminalization and prohibition of hemp research by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The Maine Agricultural & Forest Experiment Station in 2005 acknowledged that the hemp plant has many environmental benefits but until the legalization of hemp the full benefits will never be known (Smith-Heisters, 2008, Pp. 31). There is one final environmental benefit worth mentioning before moving on to the health benefits of the hemp plant. In these times of scarcity it is important to note that every part of the hemp plant can be used when the plant is processed for production equating to zero waste making the hemp plant that much more environmentally beneficial (Wang, 1999, Pp. 346).


It is easy to think that when discussing the hemp plant and health that the discussion is going to stray into medicinal rhetoric. However, when discussing health and the hemp plant the real focus is on the hemp seed and hemp oil. Hemp food products are derived from the hemp seed. Products such as cereal, milk, candy bars and hundreds if not thousands of other foods can be derived from the hemp seed making it potentially one of the “most promising staple crops in North America for natural foods” (Leson (a), Pp. 1).

A diet of hemp seeds will provide rare nutrients such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that assist greatly in treating or preventing disorders, diseases, illnesses, cancers and inflammation. There is a very long list of medicinal and nutritional benefits related to the consumption of hemp seeds as well as the fact that no cooking or de-shelling is required unlike most other seeds and nuts (Leson (a), Pp. 3 and Clarke, 1995, Pp. 65). Research continues globally such as in Finland where at the University of Kuopio rare super fatty acids of the hemp seed assisted patients combat diseases and ailments (Leson (b), Pp. 1-2). Overall, hemp cosmetics and body care products can assist in lowering healthcare costs through application and use (Tanelian, Pp. 3). It is also worth mentioning that livestock and pets can consume hemp seeds and hemp pet food products to attain all the above nutritional benefits improving the health of livestock and of pets (VoteHemp, Pp 14 and Smith-Heisters, 2008, Pp. 8).

When considering the full nutritional benefits of hemp seeds and when considering the hemp plant’s attributes of being a drought and disease durable plant it becomes clear that the hemp plant would be ideal for isolated regions around the world that might lack food, water or both. A news article published in the Sydney Morning Herald discussed how hemp seeds alleviated hunger in times of famine during the 1800’s in Australia (Elliott, 2010). Countries such as Africa, the Middle East and the United States for example, could produce hemp seeds in areas that are unlivable and un-arable due to the extremely low maintenance required for hemp to grow. There have even been attempts made in response to the United Nations declared world food crisis by proposing that hemp seeds be a possible food source for areas afflicted by famine (Famine, 2011).

The health benefits of the hemp plant are as clear as the environmental benefits after examining the historical and scientific evidence. Whether it is through the nutritional benefits from consuming hemp seeds or it is through the health benefits from the application of hemp cosmetics there are clear benefits to health in addition to nutrition. Now it is time to explore the benefits the hemp plant would have on United States technology.


An issue arises when discussing hemp technology and that issue is the lack of hemp research performed in the United States. Since the placement of the hemp plant into Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act in 1937, all hemp related research has been prohibited by the Drug Enforcement Agency preventing the progression and discovery of new hemp technologies by the United States (Smith-Heisters, 2008, Pp. 28). This creates the dilemma of accuracy in determining the true range of hemp products and determining the full potential of hemp technologies. For the past seventy four years of hemp prohibition Western Europe and Asia continue to make advances in hemp technologies through processing and production while the United States remains technological stuck in the 1930’s (Vantreese, 1998, Pp. 28).

Due to this hemp research prohibition there are only rough estimates of the variety of products and things that be derived from the hemp plant. Some scholars estimate that there are a few thousand products that can be made while other scholars estimate around fifty thousand products that can be made from hemp (Vantreese, 1998, Pp. 8). In February of 1938, Popular Mechanics volume 69, number 2 declared the hemp plant the “new billion dollar crop” despite the hemp plant’s criminalization one year prior in 1937 (Popular Mechanics, 1938, Vol. 69, #2). Three years later in December of 1941, Popular Mechanics volume 76, number 6 wrote about a new plastic composite car that Henry Ford had created. Ford’s creation was a car with a biodegradable hemp plastic body that was ten times as strong as steel, one thousand pounds less in weight hence improving gas mileage and was powered by hemp fuel (Popular Mechanics, 1941, Vol. 76, #6).

The hemp plant can also be turned into a fuel and energy source through hemp oil and hemp hurds. When hemp is combusted it burns as “carbon neutral” and could power vehicles such as Henry Ford’s hemp composite car or replace current sources of energy (Hemp Technology, 2009 and Smith-Heisters, 2008, Pp. 6-7). The California Energy Commission listed the hemp plant as a potential biomass energy crop through the use of hemp pellets in addition to a local fuel source (Smith-Heisters, 2008, Pp. 20). Again, it is difficult to determine the full technological scope of hemp fuel and hemp energy due to current research prohibition. The undiscovered technological possibilities of the hemp plant are as attractive and alluring as the possible discovery of a new resource, species or planet. The global hemp market is an untapped global industry that the United States has yet to enter into and compete in. Only when the United States enters into this global hemp market will the technological possibilities and potential behind the hemp plant be discovered.

Before moving on to the benefits the hemp plant would have on United States trade it is important to keep in mind that the criminalization of the hemp plant seventy four years ago has restrained advancement in hemp research due to strict Drug Enforcement Agency enforcement (Vantreese, 1998, Pp. 19). This is important because this hemp research prohibition has diminished the competitive advantage the United States might possess in the global hemp market. Consider the United States lack of processing capacity, the local labor costs and production inefficiency all of which place the United States in a vulnerable position against global entrenched hemp competitors (Wang, 1999, Pp. 346, 352). The technological advancements other countries have made in processing hemp such as spinning it and creating a finer quality of hemp fiber versus the crude hemp fiber processed in the 1930s provides those countries a competitive advantage over the United States (Kozlowski, 1995, Pp. 86 and USDA, 2000, Pp. 8). This lack of competitive standing the United States currently maintains in the global hemp market should be considered when examining the benefits the hemp plant would have on United States trade.


Migration and trade has spread the hemp plant around the globe and the hemp plant has been present throughout the development of almost every nation in the world since the dawn of the agricultural revolution (Li, 1974, Pp. 447). For over 5,000 years the hemp plant has been entwined into the fabric of Chinese life and currently China dominates the world hemp market (Li, 1974, Pp 447). Russia dominated the hemp industry during the Napoleonic Era in the 1800s but lost the number one ranking with the signing of the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807 (Meints, 2011). Canada has created new processing and production methods in addition to refining the process of marijuana plant separation and extraction from hemp fields (Canada, 2011, Pp. 2 and USDA, 2000, Pp. 2). This research data could lead to a renewed sense of economic importance over the hemp plant and could increase hemp trade.

There have been attempts to encourage global hemp trade through the National Hemp Corporation through creating connections among growers regarding importing and exporting hemp in order to help lower processing and production costs, enhance the quality of hemp products and work collectively to develop new hemp technologies (Porter, 1940, Pp. 7). This global competitive spirit infused with a team effort mentality is vital for the global hemp community to work towards shared technological advances for the benefit of the global community.

Currently there are thirty countries who have established hemp as an agricultural commodity such as China, Korea, Canada and Russia, and fourteen of those countries trade on the global hemp market (Rawson, 2005, CRS-1). There are countries like Austria who depend on this competitive global hemp market because while Austria might grow the hemp plant in mass it lacks the technological capability to enact production (Vogl, 1995, Pp. 99). While the rest of the developed world is engaged in the competitive hemp market and making technological advances through competition the United States remains the final developed country that has not accepted the hemp plant as an agricultural crop. Oddly, the United States currently ranks number one in hemp imports from Canada (Canada, 2011, Pp. 31).

When attempting to consider the full scope of the benefits the hemp plant has on United States trade unfortunately only half the picture is provided. Strict Drug Enforcement Agency enforcement and prohibition of hemp research has led to a massive lack of research and technological advances hindering United States hemp trade. This places the United States at the mercy of major hemp producers such as China, Korea and Russia who now control the global profitability and cost of hemp (Wang, 1999, Pp. 355). The competitive race over the global hemp market has already begun and the United States is currently playing the role of the tortoise.

A Practical Policy Issue That Fosters Globalization

What is globalization? There are many varying definitions and expectations over the concept of globalization. Opposition to globalization, such as the Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, define globalization as a destructive force that will bring about the extinction of the world’s cultures, will threaten world communication, understanding and dialogue among countries around the globe (Lieber, 2002, Pp. 281). This polarizing view is not an isolated opinion and in more traditional societies there is a growing sense of insecurity when newly established regimes are put into power. History has demonstrated that this societal change to modernity tends to lead to ethnic conflicts (MacIver, 2004, Pp. 56).
The fear that globalization is a threat to world cultures and will spread violence to areas once untouched by the developed world is further intensified when considering the effects of industrialization and modernization (MacIver, 2004, Pp. 61). The history of destruction to natural environments and the exploitation of natural resources around the globe through overproduction leading to contamination and pollution are outcomes that do not paint globalization in the most positive of lights. There is also the fear that traditional and stable social structures long ago established will be replaced by global instability (Rodrick, 1997, Pp. 19).

On the other side of the debate are those who support globalization but even these scholars cannot seem to find a consensus on a proper definition. Thomas Friedman best describes globalization as the convergence and integration of the world economies with technology being the driving force through the sharing of technological advances and data, creating new forms of communication to connect the world and the creation of a “global popular culture.” This world trade system should be all about “power, cooperation, competition and allocation of resources” creating the team effort mentality and competitive spirit required for future global developments (Friedman, 2002, Pp. 64 and Lieber, 2002, Pp. 64).

Friedman’s definition indicates that globalization requires constant competition which leads to global discoveries benefiting the environment, health, technology and trade which further enhances the globalized world. Through this global structure can connections be created leading to a sense of a global team effort yet still maintaining that competitive spirit driving the creation and sharing of new technologies (Wells, 2001, Pp. CRS-12). Now that the idea of globalization is clearer in our minds, as set forth by Thomas Friedman, it is time to examine if the legalization of the hemp plant as a practical policy issue can foster globalization.

The hemp plant is a highly competitive agriculture commodity and every developed country in the world is making advancements in hemp technology. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization have declared the hemp plant a “valid agricultural crop” demonstrating once again the global importance of the plant (Vantreese, 1998, Pp. 18). Competition and technological advances are essential to globalization, so Friedman’s positive and beneficial definition of globalization is derailed when governments allow domestic corporations and firms through interest groups to successful pressure government intervention and prevention of global competition. This government intervention protects domestic investments by limiting or ceasing foreign competition and is detrimental to the image of globalization. This interference and prevention of competition, such as the criminalization of the hemp plant, eventually decreases or freezes economic and technological growth (Wells, 2001, CRS-24). When competition is prohibited and monopolization occurs is when that negative definition of globalization that the Iranian President Mohammed Khatami expressed is once again manifested and reinforced.

Therefore, the acceptance of the hemp plant or the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011 as a practical policy issue in the United States will reintroduce America back into the global hemp market increasing global hemp competition and leading to a new wave of technological advancements, hence fostering the idea of globalization through an observed global competitive spirit and team effort mentality (Friedman, 2002, Pp. 64).


Throughout history there have been instances where a government must make tough decisions that are in the best interest of the public health and public welfare. During both the Revolutionary War and World War II, the United States government made the decision to encourage the production of the hemp plant due to fiber shortages. In both instances hemp mills were quickly erected and hemp was even imported from countries around the world, such as Russia (Herndon, 1963, Pp. 89, 90, 93). American historians tend to not give the hemp plant much attention or praise even though from 1943-1944 around 60,000,000 pounds of hemp was harvested by War Hemp Industries (Ash, 1948, Pp. 169 and Garland, 1946, Pp. 128, 131). In 1994, President Clinton created an executive order called The National Defense Industrial Resources Preparedness and listed the hemp plant as a “strategic crop” to be used in times of emergency (Rawson, 2005, CRS-6). It is historically apparent that the United States government long ago acknowledged the practicality and viability of the hemp plant.

Since 2005, a bill called the Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in Congress where it was voted through but perished while in committee. The bill would have separated the hemp plant from the marijuana plant and would re-Schedule the hemp plant into a lower Schedule in the Controlled Substance Act allowing nationwide hemp production. Despite the bill dissolving in committee in 2005, every two years the Industrial Hemp Farming Act has been reintroduced by Senator Ron Paul. In 2011 the bill was once again submitted and accepted into committee where the practical policy issue is once again awaiting to be decided upon. This reinforces the validity in the argument that marijuana laws can remain in effect while hemp laws allow the United States to enter into the competitive global hemp market finally allowing research, production and advancements in hemp technologies and trade (Ballanco, 1995, Pp. 92).

The philosopher John Stewart Mills would agree with author Karen Sanders regarding liberty and truth when she wrote that “the service of truth requires freedom for the good that it allows us to achieve” (Mill, 2010 and Sanders, 2003, Pp. 71). Only through a compelling curiosity can the service of truth be sought out and achieved revealing the benefits and worth behind the curiosity that once was demonized and misunderstood. The truth in this case is there is a separation of the hemp plant from the marijuana plant through scientific and legal evidence. The truth is that the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011 is a practical policy issue and the legalization of the hemp plant would bring to the United States cleansed environments and healthy citizens who would finally have the freedom to compete towards new hemp technologies nationally and globally. Most importantly, the legalization of the hemp plant would enhance global connections through hemp trade and foster the idea of globalization through global competition and cooperation. All that is left for the United States to do is to accept these truths and become a competitor in the global hemp market. Perhaps the tortoise can still win this race despite the competitions enormous lead.


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