Cannabis sativa; two words that never fail to draw strong opinions from those who know their meaning.
For the benefit of the three people left in the world who do not know, Cannabis sativa is hemp, also known as marijuana. Some people prefer to make a distinction between the two crops, noting that industrial hemp contains a very low level of THC, the intoxicating agent found in varieties more commonly used for medicinal and recreational purposes.
My opinion differs somewhat in that based on first hand experience, cannabis is neither addictive nor as dangerous as either tobacco or alcohol, making a distinction between hemp and marijuana is a useless exercise in hair splitting that only lends credence to the erroneous views of the prohibitionists.
Our national experiment with reefer madness has been in the headlines quite often in the past few years, with many states voting to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes and others considering initiatives to decriminalize or even legalize possession of the plant for any purpose. All of this is, of course, is being done without the blessing of our almighty federal government, which has no constitutional right to interfere in the matter to begin with, but that's a debate for another post.
Today I want to discuss why I believe the people of North Carolina should join the growing chorus of citizens considering legalization of cannabis sativa. No single action our state government could take would do as much to stimulate our state economy as the ending of hemp prohibition.
Since the founding of the English colonies in America, in the early 16th century, agriculture and textiles have been vitally important industries in this region. Tobacco, cotton, and many other crops have historically played a significant role in the economic development of our state.
By 1900, the American textile industry was well on its way to moving to the Carolinas from New England. North Carolina became the center of the textile business by the 1920s and continued outstanding success throughout the 20th Century. But free trade regulations and fierce price competition from global developing countries triggered a steady relocation of the textile industry from the Carolinas to overseas production as the 21st Century began.
For thousands of years, hemp was the most versatile industrial crop on the planet. Our paper was made from its pulp, our clothing, linens, and cordage was woven from its fibrous stalk. Industrial lubricants and lamp oil was pressed from its seed, leaving behind an excellent cake that could be used for livestock feed, and in many cultures, the seed was a staple food source for human populations. With the technologies at our disposal today, the industrial potential of this miraculous plant are greater than ever before
The flowering tops of the cannabis plant have been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of ailments including glaucoma, emphysema, cancers, and many others. In the 19th century, cannabis was one of our three most important medicines, after alcohol and opium, both of which are known to powerfully addictive and the cause of many deaths by overdose. Cannabis, in contrast, is neither addictive nor deadly.
The history of cannabis prohibition is well documented; based on racist lies and the greed of a handful of industrialists whose heavily polluting enterprises have long outlived their usefulness to our civilization. Not only has our environment been raped and pillaged by the greed of these powerful few, but hundreds of thousands of families have been destroyed in the enforcement of these misguided draconian laws, turning our once free nation into a horrific police state. It's time for these atrocities, motivated and maintained for the benefit of a tiny minority, to end.
Legalization of cannabis in North Carolina would provide the economic boost our state desperately needs, resulting in thousands of new sustainable jobs, producing valuable raw materials and finished products for export, and flooding our state treasury with much needed revenue to support our schools and rebuild our aging infrastructure. So what must we do to make this happen? We must demand that our legislators change the laws that currently protect the commercial interests most benefitting from prohibition laws, and demand that they act for the greater good of our state and its people.
Hemp legalization in North Carolina would catapult our state to the forefront of an economic boom like we haven't seen in sixty years. This election year, there is one question we should ask of every candidate for office in this state, from county commissioner to senator and every office in between: Where do you stand on the issue of cannabis legalization?
There is only one correct answer; to end the insanity that is hemp prohibition.