LCA Database Results
Hemp: Its Uses And Prohibition
Monday 14 Aug 2000
Hemp is the English name for the plant cannabis, also known as marijuana, a name which originated in the USA early this century. Most people think of cannabis as a drug; many people think it is not. It certainly does not lead on to drugs. It is not dangerous, not addictive.
Unlike drugs, cannabis is not poisonous; there is no possibility of a fatal dose.
In its effect on the body, the smoking of cannabis differs from the smoking of tobacco or the drinking of alcohol. There are no real withdrawal symptoms, no physical craving induced by abstinence, even after years of use.
That cannabis has RELAXANT properties (residing mainly in the sticky resinous product found most abundantly in the female plant) is beyond dispute. The principal psychoactive compound is Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. But it is important to distinguish between natural cannabis and concentrated THC.
As a THERAPEUTIC MEDICINE, both preventative and curative, cannabis has been in continuous use at least since the time of the ancient Chinese and ancient Egyptians. Bizarrely, its medicinal properties have been denied in our time
under international treaty. Nevertheless, millions of people continue to make use of it to relieve suffering. The range of ailments which the evidence shows are often eased by cannabis includes: glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and
spasms associated with spasticity, asthma, appetite deficiency in the case on AIDS, nausea experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, spinal injury, menstrual pains and childbirth, depression, migraine, drug addiction and alcoholism, insomnia and (perhaps effecting the majority of us) stress.
Contrary to the popular opinion that cannabis has been used mainly throughout the East, it was so familiar across England under the name of hemp, or 'hempe', that in his 17th century 'Complete Herbal and English Physician' Culpeper wrote: "It is so common a plant and so well known by almost every inhabitant of this Kingdom, that a description of it would be altogether superfluous." Culpeper went on to say that it can be used with success for
"the treatment of jaundice... colic... bleeding from the mouth or nose... destroys worms in man or beast... eases gout... pains in the hips... dispelleth wind... and the fresh juice mixed with a little oil and butter, is an extremely good cure for burns."
In 1928 cannabis became illegal in the UK: it was banned under the Dangerous Drugs Act. At present offences of supply or importation carry sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment and unlimited fine.
The Dangerous Drugs Act was based upon the International Opium Convention, at which hemp was mis-classified as a narcotic. Subsequent international agreements such as the 1961 UN Single Convention again misrepresented cannabis, classifying it as a substance with no therapeutic or medicinal value. It is on this faulty base that the British law the Misuse of Drugs Act, is founded.
So cannabis, one of the most versatile plants on the planet, in use since prehistoric times and right up to the first quarter of our century, has been prohibited, comprehensively - a prohibition, it's important to note, effected at a time when large American pharmaceutical and petrochemical companies stood poised to replace hemp with synthetics: these ranging from diesel to nylon, from plastic to drugs.
The near demise of hemp and its supplanting by synthetics that are manifestly dangerous to the environment has proved a catastrophe. During thousands of years hemp was the largest agricultural crop in the world, satisfying a wide
range of human needs. It was used, as already noted, to produce clothes, footwear, fuel, rope, sails, paper and numerous other commodities. Its versatility indeed can hardly be exaggerated.
Different parts of the plant are useful in different ways:
The SEED is an excellent food and source of oil for cooking and for lubrication. It is cholesterol-lowering and full of protein. It can also be used to make soaps, cosmetics and shampoos.
The FIBRE STRANDS can be spun into thread and used to make rope or woven into durable, high quality textiles. The textiles in turn are used to make clothes, sails, linens and fabrics of all types. The original Levi jeans
were made out of hemp. The cannabis hemp fibre produces the strongest long-lasting natural fibres in the plant kingdom.
The HURDS, or pieces of the stalk left after the fibre is removed, are 77% cellulose. These can be used to make dioxin-free paper, packing materials, non-toxic paints and lacquers, industrial fabrication materials such as plastics and chipboard and even bricks. Waste materials are completely biodegradable.
The LEAVES have use as a recreational and medicinal ameliorant. They can also be eaten as a salad vegetable.
The ROOTS play an important part in soil conservation and reclamation, preventing erosion and mudslides. Boiled and made into a poultice, cannabis
roots can ease the pain of arthritis and sprains.
The WHOLE PLANT is an extremely valuable source of BIOMASS for the production of pollution-free fuels, through a simple process of controlled decomposition called pyrolysis. These fuels can be used to power everything
from generators and domestic heating to motor cars and jet planes.
Cannabis could be grown easily almost anywhere in the world, thus creating jobs and freeing a host of people from dependence upon the massive petroleum and nuclear industries. The profiteering indulged in by these industries constitutes, it has been said, the most serious barrier of all to the legalisation and liberation of the cannabis plant.
Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, claims, unequivocally, that cannabis could save our planet from pollution and desolation, since it has no need of pesticides or chemical fertilisers and can be grown on the same land year after year. Replacing petrol and coal as fuel, and replacing trees as a source of paper, cannabis, cultivated widely, would REVERSE THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT.
CANNABIS: LEGALISE AND UTILISE
A MANIFESTO AND INFORMATION DOCUMENT 2000
Produced and published by:
The Legalise Cannabis Alliance
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