It’s amazing how little you really don’t know about marijuana unless of course you or someone you know uses it or has used it. If so, then whoever it is seems to be an expert. (?) Tragically a lot of families become experts too late when they lose the life of a teenage child to marijuana as the result of a vehicle crash.
After alcohol, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana, is the substance most commonly found in the blood of impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Studies in several localities have found that approximately 4 to 14% of drivers who sustained injury or died in traffic accidents tested positive for THC. Considerable evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver’s attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences. Research shows that impairment increases significantly when marijuana use is combined with alcohol.
According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 10.3 million people aged 12 or older (or 3.9% of adolescents and adults) reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed. Makes you want to be even more of a defensive driver!
The plant, as it’s known today, has been with us since maybe before 2,900 BC. The oldest known written record on cannabis use comes from the Chinese Emperor Shen Neng in 2727 B.C. Ancient Greeks and Romans were also familiar with cannabis, while in the Middle East, use spread throughout the islamic empire to North Africa where it was first used to get “high” and was ground up and smoked and was known as Hashish. In 1545 cannabis spread to the western hemisphere where Spaniards imported it to Chile for its use as fiber. In North America cannabis, in the form of hemp, was grown on many plantations for use in rope, clothing and paper.
Have you ever wondered what the Cannabis Sativa L flower might of looked like in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve brought sin and therefore its evil mutating genetics into the world? I wonder if our first parents used hemp to make anything? (More about hemp later.)
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug (17.4 million per month users and growing). Marijuana is used by 76.8% of current illicit drug users and was the only drug used by 60.1% of them.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), a system for monitoring the health impact of drugs, estimated that marijuana is a contributing factor in over 376,000 emergency department visits per year in the United States, with about 2/3 of patients being male, and 12% between the ages of 12 and 17.
Smoked or Chewed
THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana, responsible for most of its known effects. When marijuana is smoked, its effects begin almost immediately. THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to organs throughout the body, including the brain. The effects of smoked marijuana can last from 1 to 3 hours.
If marijuana is consumed in foods or beverages, the effects appear later – usually within 30 minutes to 1 hour – but can last up to 4 hours. Smoking marijuana delivers significantly more THC into the bloodstream than eating or drinking the drug.
Scientists have learned a great deal about how THC acts in the brain. THC binds to specific sites called cannabinoid receptors (CBRs) located on the surface of nerve cells. These receptors are found in high-density in areas of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination, and sensory and time perception.
CBRs are part of a vast communication network known as the endocannabinoid system, which plays a critical role in normal brain development and function. In fact, THC effects are similar to those produced by naturally occurring chemicals found in the brain (and body) called endogenous cannabinoids. These chemicals help control many of the same mental and physical functions that may be disrupted by marijuana use.
When someone smokes marijuana, THC stimulates the CBRs artificially, disrupting function of the natural, or endogenous, cannabinoids. An over-stimulation of these receptors in key brain areas produces the marijuana “high,” as well as other effects on mental processes. Over time, this over-stimulation can alter the function of CBRs, which, along with other changes in the brain, can lead to addiction and to withdrawal symptoms when its usage stops. In fact, heavy marijuana users have have an abnormal brain structure as well as poor memory. You can read more about that HERE as well as some other very useful marijuana facts, too.
The THC content or potency of marijuana, as detected in confiscated samples over the past 30+ years, has been steadily increasing. This increase raises concerns that the consequences of marijuana use could be worse than in the past, particularly among new users, or in young people, whose brains are still developing.
Effects on the Brain
As THC enters the brain, it causes the user to feel euphoric – or high – by acting on the brain’s reward system, which is made up of regions that govern the response to pleasurable things like sex and chocolate, as well as to most drugs of abuse. THC activates the reward system in the same way that nearly all drugs of abuse do: By stimulating brain cells to release the chemical dopamine.
Along with euphoria, relaxation is another frequently reported effect in human studies. Other effects, which vary dramatically among different users, include –
- heightened sensory perception (e.g., brighter colors)
- altered perception of time
- increased appetite
Marijuana use impairs a person’s ability to form new memories and to shift focus. THC also disrupts coordination and balance by binding to receptors in the cerebellum and basal ganglia – parts of the brain that regulate balance, posture, coordination, and reaction time. Therefore, learning, doing complicated tasks, participating in athletics, and driving are also affected.
Marijuana users who have taken large doses of the drug may experience an acute psychosis, which includes hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of the sense of personal identity. Short-term psychotic reactions to high concentrations of THC are distinct from longer-lasting, schizophrenia-like disorders that have been associated with the use of cannabis in vulnerable individuals.
Marijuana, Memory, and the Hippocampus
Memory impairment from marijuana use occurs because THC alters how information is processed in the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for memory formation.
As people age, they lose neurons in the hippocampus, which decreases their ability to learn new information. Chronic THC exposure hastens age-related loss of hippocampal neurons. Individuals who quit marijuana, even after long-term, heavy use, might recover some of their cognitive abilities. Marijuana’s effects on the brain can build up and deteriorate critical life skills over time. Such effects may be worse in those with other mental disorders, or simply by the normal aging process.
Effects on General Physical Health
Within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke, an individual’s heart rate speeds up, the bronchial passages relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red. The heart rate – normally 70 to 80 beats per minute – may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute, or may even double in some cases. Taking other drugs with marijuana can amplify this effect which can cause a deadly situation.
A person’s risk of heart attack during the first hour after smoking marijuana is four times his or her usual risk. This observation could be partly explained by marijuana raising blood pressure (in some cases) and heart rate and reducing the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen.
The smoke of marijuana, like that of tobacco, consists of a toxic mixture of gases and particulates, many of which are known to be extremely harmful to the lungs. Someone who smokes marijuana regularly will have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers do, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illnesses, and a greater risk of lung infections. Even infrequent marijuana use will cause burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, often accompanied by a heavy cough. Extra sick days used by frequent marijuana smokers were often because of respiratory illnesses.
Within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke, an individual’s heart rate speeds up, the bronchial passages relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red.
Babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies display altered responses to visual stimuli, increased tremulousness, and a high-pitched cry, which could indicate problems with neurological development. In school, marijuana-exposed children are more likely to show gaps in problem solving skills, memory, and the ability to remain attentive.
In addition, marijuana has the potential to promote cancer of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract because it contains irritants and carcinogens – up to 70% more than tobacco smoke. It also induces high levels of an enzyme that converts certain hydrocarbons into their cancer-causing form, which could accelerate the changes that ultimately produce malignant cells.
And since marijuana smokers generally inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers, the lungs are exposed longer to carcinogenic smoke.
However, while several lines of evidence have suggested that marijuana use may lead to lung cancer, the supporting evidence is inconclusive. The presence of an unidentified active ingredient in cannabis smoke having protective properties – if corroborated and properly characterized – could help explain the inconsistencies and modest findings.
Basic Consequences of Marijuana Abuse
Acute (present during intoxication)
- Impairs short-term memory
- Impairs attention, judgment, and other cognitive functions
- Impairs coordination and balance
- Increases heart rate
- Psychotic episodes
Persistent (lasting longer than intoxication, but may not be permanent)
- Impairs memory and learning skills
- Sleep impairment
- Impairs the immune system
Long-term (cumulative effects of chronic abuse)
- Often leads to addiction
- Increases risk of chronic cough, bronchitis
- Increases risk of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals
- May increase risk of anxiety, depression, and amotivational syndrome (diminished or absent drive to engage in typically rewarding activities)
There’s strongest evidence that there’s a link between cannabis use and psychosis. For example, a series of large prospective studies that followed a group of people over time showed a relationship between marijuana use and later development of psychosis. Marijuana use also worsens the course of illness in patients with schizophrenia and can produce a brief psychotic reaction in some users that fades as the drug wears off. The amount of drug used, the age at first use, and genetic vulnerability can all influence this relationship.
In addition to the observed links between marijuana use and schizophrenia, other less consistent associations have been reported between marijuana use and depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents, and personality disturbances. One of the most frequently cited, albeit still controversial, is an amotivational syndrome, defined as a. Because of the role of the endocannabinoid system in regulating mood, these associations make a certain amount of sense; however, more research is needed to confirm and better understand these linkages.
Marijuana addiction is also linked to a withdrawal syndrome similar to that of nicotine withdrawal, which can make it hard to quit. People trying to quit report irritability, sleeping difficulties, craving, and anxiety. They also show increased aggression on psychological tests, peaking approximately 1 week after they last used the drug.
Research has shown that marijuana’s negative effects on attention, memory, and learning can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off. Consequently, someone who smokes marijuana daily may be functioning at a reduced intellectual level most or all of the time. Not surprisingly, evidence suggests that, compared with their nonsmoking peers, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school.
Marijuana users report poor outcomes on a variety of life satisfaction and achievement measures. One study compared current and former long-term heavy users of marijuana with a control group who reported smoking cannabis at least once in their lives but not more than 50 times. Despite similar education and income backgrounds, significant differences were found in educational attainment: Fewer of the heavy users of cannabis completed college, and more had yearly household incomes of less than $30,000. When asked how marijuana affected their cognitive abilities, career achievements, social lives, and physical and mental health, the majority of heavy cannabis users reported the drug’s negative effects on all of these measures. In addition, several studies have linked workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover. For example, a study among postal workers found that employees who tested positive for marijuana on a pre-employment urine drug test had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries, and a 75% increase in absenteeism compared with those who tested negative for marijuana use.
A graduate student from the University of Rhode Island in November, ‘14 sued a textile company for refusing to hire her for a two-month internship because she uses medical marijuana to treat frequent and debilitating migraine headaches, a decision her lawyer calls discrimination.
Carly Iafrate, the attorney who filed the lawsuit for Callaghan, said if employers are allowed to discriminate against medical marijuana patients, then its legalization would become “an empty promise.”
“People with disabilities simply cannot be denied equal employment opportunities on the basis of the type of medication required to treat their particular condition,” she said.
Employment discrimination lawsuits have appeared in other states that have legalized medical marijuana. Patients who have been fired, disciplined or denied a job after testing positive for the drug have previously sued in states including New Mexico, Maine, Colorado and New Jersey.
Rhode Island legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 2006, although pot is still illegal under federal law. To use it, patients must get a doctor’s OK and an identification card from the state. According to the lawsuit filed in superior court, Callaghan received her medical marijuana card in February 2013.
Darlington Fabrics Corp. and its parent, the Moore Company did not respond to the lawsuit because it’s company policy not to comment on litigation. But, in my opinion they KNOW what marijuana usage does and therefore has a policy to not hire anyone regardless if it’s for medical or recreational usage. Can’t blame them for protecting their company.
One of my mentors, Eric R. Braverman, M.D. says it best on page 226 of his book, “Younger Brain, Sharper Mind” – “Medical Marijuana Won’t Help Your Thinking: Medical marijuana is a hot topic right now, and I’m not referring to the kind you smoke. Most responsible doctors who treat patients with a cannabis-based therapy prescribe Marinol pills – not in any sort of tobacco form. I’ve prescribed Marinol for a small set of my patients suffering from cataracts or cancer. But in the long run, medical marijuana is still dope and is neurotoxic, meaning that it destroys the brain. Worse, it’s often unclear when, or whether, it might work better than traditional drugs, which come with established dosing regimens.”
Marijuana dependence appears to be very similar to other substance dependence disorders, although the long-term clinical outcomes may be less severe. On average, adults seeking treatment for marijuana abuse or dependence have used marijuana nearly every day for more than 10 years and have attempted to quit more than six times.
It is important to note that marijuana dependence is most prevalent among patients suffering from other psychiatric disorders, particularly among adolescent and young adult populations.
Also, marijuana abuse or dependence typically co-occurs with use of other drugs, such as cocaine and alcohol. Available studies indicate that effectively treating the mental health disorder with standard treatments involving medications and behavioral therapies may help reduce cannabis use, particularly among heavy users and those with more chronic mental disorders such as seen in obama.
Behavioral treatments, such as motivational enhancement therapy (MET), group or individual cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and contingency management (CM), as well as family-based treatments, have shown promise.
Unfortunately, the success rates of treatment are rather modest. Even with the most effective treatment for adults, only about 50% of enrollees achieve an initial 2-week period of abstinence, and among those who do, approximately half will resume use within a year. Across studies, 1-year abstinence rates have ranged between 10 to 30% for the various behavioral approaches. As with other addictions, these data suggest that a chronic care model needs to be considered for marijuana addiction, with treatment intensity stepped up or down based on need, co-morbid addictions or other mental disorders, and the availability of family and other supports.
Currently, no medications are available to treat marijuana abuse, but research is active in this area. Most of the studies to date have targeted the marijuana withdrawal syndrome. For example, a recent human laboratory study showed that a combination of a cannabinoid agonist medication with lofexidine (a medication approved in the United Kingdom for the treatment of opioid withdrawal) produced more robust improvements in sleep and decreased marijuana withdrawal, craving, and relapse in daily marijuana smokers relative to either medication alone. Recent discoveries about the inner workings of the endogenous cannabinoid system raise the future possibility of a medication able to block THC’s intoxicating effects, which could help prevent relapse by reducing or eliminating marijuana’s appeal.
One report shows 10.8% of Americans now admit to occasionally smoking marijuana – compared to 10.2% the previous year. But, which states smoke the most? And what’s up with New England – literally? We knew the west coast was up in smoke, but New England? Wow!
1. Alaska – 16.29% of the state’s residents use the substance, making it the top stoner state in America.
2. Vermont – 16% of its citizens reporting they consume marijuana.
3. Colorado -15.09%
4. New Hampshire – 15%
5. Massachusetts – 14.55%
6. Oregon – 14.45%
7. Rhode Island – 12.32% of its population use cannabis.
8. Washington, D.C. – 14.29%
9. Maine – 13.56%
10. California – 12.88%
11. Washington State – 12.84%
12. New York – 12.83%
13. Connecticut – 12.53%
15. Montana – 12.21%
16. Michigan – 12.16%
17. Hawaii – 12.01%
18. Delaware – 11.86% of the population smoking pot.
Moves by some U.S. states to legalize marijuana are not in line with international drugs conventions, the U.N. anti-narcotics chief said on Wednesday, adding he would discuss the issue in Washington next week.
Residents of Oregon, Alaska, and the U.S. capital voted this month to allow the use of marijuana, boosting the legalization movement as cannabis usage is increasingly recognized by the American mainstream.
“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told reporters.
Asked whether there was anything the UNODC could do about it, Fedotov said he would raise the problem next week with the U.S. State Department and other U.N. agencies.
The Oregon and Alaska steps would legalize recreational cannabis use and usher in a network of shops similar to those operating in Washington state and Colorado, which in 2012 voted to become the first U.S. states to allow marijuana use for fun.
Marijuana remains classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law, although the Obama administration has said it was giving individual states leeway to carry out their own recreational-use statutes.
Fedotov suggested the U.S. developments may be part of a wider trend that he said the UNODC was following.
On the international level, Uruguay’s parliament in late 2013 approved a bill to legalize and regulate the production and sale of marijuana – the first country to do so.
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has said Uruguay’s new bill contravened the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which it says requires states to limit the use of cannabis to medical and scientific purposes, due to its dependence-producing potential. The Vienna-based INCB monitors compliance with this and two other drug control treaties.
Proponents of medical marijuana argue that it can be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, and other conditions. They refer to dozens of peer-reviewed studies, prominent medical organizations, major government reports, and the use of marijuana as medicine throughout world history.
Opponents of medical marijuana argue that it is too dangerous to use, lacks FDA-approval, and that various legal drugs make marijuana use unnecessary. They say marijuana is addictive, leads to harder drug use, interferes with fertility, impairs driving ability, and injures the lungs, immune system, and brain. They say that medical marijuana is a front for drug legalization and recreational use.
Excellent web site: https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881
My bottom line regarding Marijuana
It does not give you the power to be well when used as a recreational drug.
It does not give you the power to be well if you use it as a medical drug because it only treats symptoms at the same time causing numerous very bad side-effects as does any medical drug. Regardless, it’s the patient’s choice. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it’s truly the devil’s weed when used for anything but its industrial aspects.
No article about marijuana is complete without discussing “hemp”. Most people think it’s the same and therefore hemp has a really bad name. Yes, marijuana and industrial hemp both come from the Cannabis sativa L plant, they each come from their own variety of the plant. Marijuana is referring to the variety of Cannabis that’s grown for the buds of the plant that contain THC (these are the shorter bushy plants), while industrial hemp (look more like tall skinny stalks) is referring to the variety of Cannabis sativa plants that are grown for its fibers and seeds use for nutritional purposes, clothing, oils and many other purposes that have nothing to do with getting high.
The reason the THC is practically non-existent in industrial hemp is because it’s not cultivated to produce the buds that contain THC. In fact, industrial hemp contains Cannabidiol (CBD) that actually lessens the psychoactive effects of THC by stabilizing disrupted receptor pathways in the brain.
Legalizing hemp while continuing the prohibition on marijuana would not burden local police forces. In countries where hemp is grown as an agricultural crop, the police have experienced no such burdens.
HEMP: Every industrialized nation, except the USA, allows cultivation.
Again, hemp isn’t marijuana. It has zero drug value. Hemp is one of the most nutritious and sustainably-grown plants in the world. And it makes great tasting products that are good for you and the planet. For these reasons and more, certain folks want to bring hemp farming back to the US.
When it comes to food, fabrics, rope, paper and building materials, industrial hemp has a longstanding history in the U.S. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both cultivated hemp on their farms. Even drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper.
After the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970, hemp was classified with marijuana and was deemed illegal to grow in the US. Today, hemp is proving to have even greater value as a potential source of renewable energy, and as a raw material for biodiesel and ethanol.
No other natural resource offers the potential of hemp. Hemp is capable of producing significant quantities of paper, textiles, building materials, food, medicine, paint, detergent, varnish, oil, ink, and fuel. Unlike other crops, hemp can grow in most climates and on most farmland throughout the world with moderate water and fertilizer requirements, no pesticides, and no herbicides. Cannabis Hemp (also known as Indian Hemp) has enormous potential to become a major natural resource that can benefit both the economy and the environment.
No member of the vegetable kingdom has ever been more misunderstood than hemp. For too many years, emotion-not reason-has guided the US’s policy toward this crop. And nowhere have emotions run hotter than in the debate over the distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana.
Hemp is grown quite differently from marijuana. It’s harvested at a different time than marijuana. Cross-pollination between hemp plants and marijuana plants would significantly reduce the potency of the marijuana plant.
Industrial hemp is a plant, one of the hardiest plants around actually. Its dense foliage and planting density prevent weeds from growing without the use of herbicides. That makes it a favorite of farmers practicing sustainable farming methods. Hemp can be grown with no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides. It’s completely organic. It’s also a great weed control against bad weeds like dandelions. Hemp is easily cultivated and grown in a variety of areas, even those that are particularly dry, with poor soil and short growing seasons.
Hemp is typically grown up, not out, because the focus is not on producing buds but on producing length of stalk. In this way, hemp is a very similar crop to bamboo. The stalk contains the fiber and hard, woody core material that can be used for a variety of purposes, even carpentry.
Generally, THC-producing marijuana plants are grown to an average of five feet in height. Industrial hemp on the other hand is grown to a height of ten to fifteen feet before harvest. Also, it is fairly difficult to grow concealed marijuana within industrial hemp crops as the DEA alleges. Since industrial hemp is grown so close together and is generally a very narrow, vertical growth crop, any THC-producing marijuana would stick out like a sore thumb. Its wide growth would require a large amount of space to itself in order to get adequate sunlight from beyond the tops of the competing industrial hemp plants.
Usually, industrial hemp grows best on fields that provide high yields for corn crops, which includes most of the Southwest, Southeast, and Northeast United States. Furthermore, since industrial hemp can use male plants as well as female plants (since the object is not THC production), higher crop yields can result.
Hemp oil is an increasingly popular product, used for an expanding variety of purposes. The washed hemp seed contains no THC at all. The tiny amounts of THC contained in industrial hemp are in the glands of the plant itself. Sometimes, in the manufacturing process, some THC- and CBD-containing resin sticks to the seed, resulting in traces of THC in the oil that is produced. The concentration of these cannabinoids in the oil is infinitesimal. It’s impossible for anyone to get high from using hemp oil.
Feral hemp, or ditchweed, is a remnant of the hemp once grown on more than 400,000 acres by U.S. farmers. It contains extremely low levels of THC, as low as .05%. It has zero drug value. It offers important environmental benefits as a nesting habitat for birds. About 99% of the “marijuana” being eradicated by the federal government – at great public expense – is this harmless ditchweed. Might it be that the drug enforcement agencies want to convince us that ditchweed is hemp in order to protect their large eradication budgets? Bunch of greedy dummies.
There’s no way of knowing whether feral hemp has been sold as marijuana. What we do know is that if this were done, it would be to fatten the profits of the drug dealer, not to increase his supply of drugs. Feral hemp, like oregano, parsley, and kenaf, has been used to dilute marijuana and defraud drug customers. That’s no reason to outlaw hemp nor to burn down oregano and parsley patches. We don’t make sugar illegal because it’s used to cut cocaine.
The Perfect Food?
Hemp food products are, now more than ever, facing a growing demand by US consumers. With food allergies on the rise, natural, unprocessed, raw and organic foods are widely becoming the new norm. As an agricultural crop, hemp is a plant-based superfood. It offers an exceptional alternative to dairy, nuts and soy. It’s vegan and gluten-free. Hemp is sustainable, non-GMO and grown without herbicides or pesticides, with no known allergens. I highly recommend it.
Hemp grown for fiber is planted in narrow row spacing (4 inches apart). Branching is discouraged, and plants are not allowed to flower. The stems are kept small by the high density and foliage develops only on the top. Hemp plants crowd out weeds and other hemp plants not equal to the competition.
Marijuana plants, on the contrary, are spaced widely to encourage branching, and the flower is the harvested product. Marijuana is a horticultural crop planted in wide spacing to minimize stand competition and promote flower production. It branches thickly like a Christmas tree. In contrast, hemp selected for fiber has only a few branches.
What about seed producers who space their plants widely? Where seed is the harvested product, whether as reproduction seed or oil-seed, purity is critical to marketability. The mixing of off-type genotypes would be scrupulously avoided in seed production fields.
The difference is in its use. Hemp and Marijuana both come from the same plant – Cannabis Sativa L. The term ‘Hemp’ commonly refers to the industrial/commercial use of the cannabis stalk and seed for textiles, foods, papers, body care products, detergents, plastics and building materials. The term ‘marijuana’ refers to the medicinal, recreational or spiritual use involving the smoking of cannabis flowers. Industrial hemp contains only about 0.3% – 1.5% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinoids, the intoxicating ingredients that make you high) while marijuana contains about 5% – 10% or more THC.
Hemp fiber is the longest, strongest and most durable of all natural fibers. Again, hemp cultivation requires no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides. Grown in rotation with other crops such as corn and legumes, hemp farming is completely sustainable. Hemp produces 4 times as much fiber per acre as pine trees. Hemp tree-free paper can be recycled up to 7 times, compared with 3 times for pine-pulp based papers. Hemp is easy to grow, and actually conditions soil where it grows. The seed and seed-oil are high in protein, essential fatty and amino acids, and vitamins. Hemp would be an ideal source of biomass for fuel, and hemp Ethanol burns very cleanly.
Hemp and humanity have been linked for over 6,000 years. Hemp was our first agricultural crop, and remained the planet’s largest crop and most important industry until late last century. Most of the non-Western world never stopped growing hemp, and today hemp for commercial use is grown mostly by China, Hungary, England, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, India and throughout Asia.
Hemp is legally grown by 29 countries around the world at present, with almost half of these having made hemp cultivation legal only in the last few years. In 1996 world hemp production was about 100,000 metric tons. Four-fifths of this total was grown in China, Russia, and South Korea. Each year the U.S. government identifies those countries that it considers to be drug-exporting nations. None of the major hemp growing and exporting nations has ever been listed.
The History and Benefits of Industrial Hemp
There has never been a plant so troubled with confusion and controversy. The word itself carries a confusing history. “Hemp” was for medieval Europeans a generic term used to describe any fiber. With European expansion, fiber plants encountered during exploration were commonly called “hemp”. Thus we have a bewildering variety of plants that carry the name hemp: Manila hemp (abacá, Musa textilis), sisal hemp (Agave sisalana), Mauritius hemp (Furcraea gigantea), New Zealand hemp (Phormium tenax), Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), Indian hemp (jute, Corchorus capsularis or C. clitorus), Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum), bow-string hemp (Sansevieria cylindrica).
This botanical confusion was compounded by the introduction of a new word to describe hemp-marihuana (now commonly written “marijuana”). The word was first coined in the 1890’s, but was adopted by the Bureau of Narcotics in the 1930’s to describe all forms of Cannabis and to this day U.S. drug enforcement agencies continue to call the plant marijuana without regard to botanical distinctions. Indeed, a recent conference held in Jefferson City, Missouri and sponsored by Drug Watch International and the Drug Enforcement Administration was entitled, “Marijuana: Myths, Concerns, Facts” – yet much of the discussion concerned industrial hemp and the legal products made from it.
The conflation of the word “marijuana” and the word “hemp” has placed a heavy burden on public policymakers. Many believe that by legalizing hemp they are legalizing marijuana. Yet in more than two dozen other countries, governments have accepted the distinction between the two types of Cannabis and, while continuing to penalize the growing of marijuana, have legalized the growing of industrial hemp. The U.S. government remains unconvinced (must’ve caught the “stupid virus” I reported here on “Ebola Part 3”).
Since there are so many differences between industrial hemp and high-THC marijuana, it seems to make sense that it would be a fostered, rather than demonized crop. Although technically hemp is not illegal to grow, it requires obtaining a special permit from the DEA. These permits are rarely given out and require that the crop be surrounded by security measures such as fences, razor wire, security guards, or dogs. For a crop that has zero potential to get people high, the current attitude is both irresponsible and draconian. I look forward to the day when hemp – with none of the restrictions it has now – is grown widely throughout the US.
- Industrial hemp could transform the economy of the United States in a positive and beneficial way, and therefore should be exploited to its full potential.
- The federal government subsidized hemp during World War 2 and U.S. farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.
- Hemp, is not only not marijuana, it is “anti-marijuana” .
- Hemp can be grown organically. Only 8, out of about 100 known pests, cause problems, and hemp is most often grown without herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. Hemp is also a natural weed suppressor due to fast growth of the canopy.
- Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp’s low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and its creamy color lends itself to environmentally-friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical by-products.
- Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. Hemp paper can also be recycled more times than wood-based paper.
- Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard. No additional resins are required due to naturally-occurring lignins.
- Kimberly-Clark (a Fortune 500 company) has a mill in France which produces hemp paper preferred for bibles and cigarette paper because it lasts a long time and doesn’t yellow.
- Fabrics made of at least 50% hemp block the sun’s harmful UV rays more effectively than other fabrics.
- All schoolbooks were made from hemp or flax paper until the 1880’s.
- It was legal to pay taxes with hemp in America from 1631 until the early 1800’s.
- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers grew hemp. Jefferson smuggled hemp seeds from China to France then to America.
- Benjamin Franklin owned one of the first paper mills in America, and it processed hemp.
- Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic.
- Because of its importance for sails (the word canvass is rooted from the word “cannabis”) and rope for ships hemp was a required crop in the American Colonies.
- Refusing to grow hemp in the 17th and 18th Centuries was against the law. You could be jailed in Virginia for refusing to grow hemp from 1763 to 1769.
- Henry Ford’s first Model-T was built to run on hemp gasoline and the car itself was constructed somewhat from hemp. The car, “Grown from the Soil” had plastic panels made from a mixture of 70% cellulose fibers from hemp whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel at 2/3 the weight. Alcohol prohibition prevented Ford from powering his fleet with “plant power”. Check out this website for more information.
- We popularly think that ethanol and bio-diesel “flex fuel” systems are all very cutting edge, but bio-fuel development is not a new science because hemp helped to start the technology.
- In the 1930’s, Ford was hard at work in the alternative fuels sector and in 1941, he constructed a hemp fueled and hemp-bodied prototype car as pictured.
Hemp is not a cure all for our social, economic, and environmental woes – no single crop can do that.
But, as we work toward a future that embraces more sustainable agriculture practices industrial hemp can help lead the way. With focused and sustained research and development, hemp could spur dramatic positive ecological and economic benefits. For instance, renewable, fast-growing hemp is a substitute for many unsustainable products like non-organic cotton (which currently uses more than 25% of the world’s insecticides and more than 10% of the world’s pesticides) and many plastic products.
In addition to supporting a federal policy change on industrial hemp, you and I can help grow the hemp marketplace by buying hemp products and also by staying informed and talking to our state and national representatives, and our friends and family, about the benefits of industrial hemp for the economy and the environment.
Based on public opinion statistics from Gallup, opinions about marijuana use are changing for the worst in my opinion. For the first time in U.S. history, the morality scales now tip in favor of legalization. More than 58% of people now favor it.
This means that more than half a church’s congregation are probably in favor of it. But, are pastors and church leaders ready to intelligently discuss recreational pot use with their youth, young adults, parents, and singles? Even more importantly, can your pastor or church leaders talk about it without oversimplification? When a pastor’s advice on a moral issue fails, the usual culprit is legalistic oversimplification. Rather you absolutely need to consider the impact of substances such as marijuana upon the virtue and excellence that our Savior intended for us.
When you can, take a moment to watch this incredibly informative and short video, “Is it OK for Christians to Smoke Recreational Marijuana?” It’s done by Rick Smith and Todd Wagner, the pastor of Watermark; the church my wife and I align with and attend.
For Christ followers, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19 – 20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” With that in mind, I say “no” to the recreational use of marijuana. Proverbs 25:28, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
“Envies, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:21
Christians must ask, “Is this making Jesus look like He is the Lord of my life?” We must ask that about everything: Smoking, drunkenness, recreational marijuana, sedentary laziness, overeating, TV watching, Internet usage, and many other things.
Ask: “Why do I do what I do?”
Just because, “I’m allowed to – by law – to do marijuana.” creates legalists. “Am I allowed to?” needs to change to – “Is this helpful for my neighbor and me?” The former question forces me into a deadly self-obsession; the latter moves me toward the spirit of goodness and sacrificial love.
Any question related to consuming drugs must first be: “How does this benefit my neighbor, physically and spiritually?”
Is using marijuana sinful, or is it wise? Some things are neither illegal (forbidden by government in laws) nor sinful (forbidden by God in Scripture), but they are unwise.
Show people the greatness of self-sacrificial love, denying personal pleasures for the sake of others’ well-being. Jesus said, “You must love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must love other people in the same way.” Jesus didn’t love others by running around protesting, crying about rights violations, or demanding that His life be more comfortable. Instead, he denied His right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness because loving humanity mattered more than anything to Him which pleased His Father.
Pastors! You can NOT debate this issue with social science, physical science, or edgy comparisons to alcohol and other mind-numbing substances. You must use and trust the transforming power of God’s Word as the foundation of the Christian ethic. Uncover the Scriptures to your people; it’ll train them to love others and the Lord their God in all that they think, say, and do, and, yes, in all that they smoke or drink or whatever. This is why Todd Wagner’s leadership is right on because of his love of and bold proclamation of the Word of God… be sure and watch that video.
God gave us minds and hearts to know Him and love Him and discern His will – 1 Corinthians 14:20: “Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”
We should never become an “experienced sinner” so as to learn “the folly of sin.” Be willing to be an inexperienced baby when it comes to sharing in mind-clouding drugs. Be ruthlessly clear-headed. Let the sheeple stampede over the cliff without you. Use your mind to warn them, not join them.
Drunkenness leads away from the kind of sober-mindedness and self-control that’s essential in using the mind for the glory of God.
Is the use of legal marijuana similar to the use of alcohol – a matter of conscience before the Lord and consideration before the church? The answer to this question is found in the chemical constitution of marijuana. All forms of marijuana contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the main active chemical and the one responsible for creating a “high.” Briefly, THC attaches to certain protein receptors in specific nerve cells in the brain which ignite a series of cellular reactions. (THC levels in marijuana have significantly increased since the 1970’s.)
These cellular reactions create the following short-term effects: increased heart rate, learning disabilities, memory loss, diminished problem-solving skills, motor-coordination loss, weakened decision-making ability and an overall distorted perception of reality.
Long-term use of marijuana results in a weakened immune system, higher risk of respiratory cancers, mental (as opposed to physical) addiction (i.e. the belief that one cannot “function” without a joint) and highly significant neurological issues.
Marijuana use is similar in effect to alcohol abuse – “drunkenness.” This effect is described as a loss of self-control. The Bible is full of commands for the Christian to be self-controlled. But, unlike alcohol, you can’t smoke pot and not get high (i.e. as someone can drink alcohol and not get drunk). The chemical effects on the body are much different.
Drunkenness is evil because it blurs and muddies our highest faculty – rationality. When a person is drunk, he or she resorts to how animals act. Drunk people act irrationally.
Smoking or eating marijuana is sinful to the extent that it inhibits the highest function of the soul: Rationality. This would apply to cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, and other drugs. Alcohol is different because its effects can be graduated.
Drunk people don’t use language properly. Their moral compass fades. They don’t think logically. They sometimes fail to control their bodily functions. They can’t operate cars or machines because their intellect has lost its facility. The more drunk they become, the less human they act. You know when you’ve crossed the line between being “merry of heart” and “drunk as a skunk.” If you can’t perform rational tasks, you’ve crossed the line.
I’ve observed pot-smokers quite a lot (during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s at a few concerts – I’ve never smoked a joint, but if breathing the second hand smoke from one counts then I’m guilty!). Marijuana inhibits the intellect, reasoning and makes for very bad choices. It doesn’t just provide a buzz (like drinking one or two beers). It may not be as bad as being drunk, but it’s still a “high” that greatly inhibits the intellect.
This would be an incredibly desperate situation but, if you’re going to dig a 9mm bullet out of my shoulder and there’s no painkillers, and there’s some whiskey or vodka… I’m NOT going to smoke a joint no matter what. Rather, I’m getting drunk to alleviate the terrible pain. And that’s okay: You’d do the same thing, too. Same would go for the medicinal use of cocaine, opium, codeine, and marijuana. I’m grateful for the strong pain killers I’ve had in the past due to various injuries. Regarding marijuana, there must be a true and powerful medicinal cause. Just “having a headache” is NOT a cause for smoking marijuana, rather the need for a Chiropractor.
Now, I personally see nothing wrong with the regulated medical use of marijuana, tightly controlled by appropriate physician oversight and prescriptions just like for the narcotic medications. I do see narcotics as an absolute last alternative to control pain. Proverbs 31:6, “Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish.”
I know of several incidences where medical marijuana has seemingly helped patients (Christian and non-Christian) for their specific health problem(s) and certain levels of pain. I’ve also known of several situations where people (Christian and non-Christian) used recreational marijuana where absolutely nothing – without exception – good ever came out of it. So, if someone is simply trying to numb themselves and escape from their life, that’s extremely different from someone who is legitimately “escaping” from say a neurologically damaging stress/pain level that is crippling.
Biblical Worldview Bottom line: Act with wisdom as a Christ follower regarding marijuana. If you seek pleasure outside of the God’s Good News you’ll lose your… life.