Cannabis is one of nature’s most profound resources, offering not only remarkable and varied health benefits, but also highly nutritious food, fuel, and countless material solutions for fabrication of all manner of ecologically sound products from paper to clothing to housing to automobile door panels.
Current books, video and events
Marijuana: Gateway to Health by Clint Werner
Too High to Fail by Doug Fine
What If Cannabis Cured Cancer? Documentary by Len Richmond with Peter Coyote
- Marijuana is created from the dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa.
- Marijuana is the most common illegal drug used in the United States. Approximately 100 million Americans have tried it at least once, and more than 25 million have smoked it in the last year.
- Each day approximately 6,000 Americans try marijuana for the first time.
- Worldwide, an estimated 162 million adults use marijuana at least once a year, and 22.5 million use it daily.
- After alcohol, marijuana is the world’s second most popular recreational mood-altering drug.
- Some 40% of U.S. high school students report using marijuana at least once, and 20% report using regularly.
- According to one report, it would take 800 joints to kill a person—but the cause of death would be carbon monoxide poisoning.
- There are more than 200 slang terms for marijuana, including: pot, dope, grass, weed, and ganja.
- The international and scientific name for marijuana is Cannabis. However, in the United States, it’s usually called marijuana.
- “Marijuana” comes from Mexican slang for cannabis. It’s believed to have originated with the Spanish pronunciation of the names Mary and Jane. (The two were also Mexican military slang for sex workers or brothels.) Marijuana became the popular name for cannabis in the U.S. during the late 1800s.
- The cannabis plant can grow in nearly any environment and averages one to two inches of growth per day and up to 18 feet total in ideal conditions.
- The primary active ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta 9 tetrhydrocannabinol). It is this chemical that produces marijuana’s mind-altering effects.
- The psychoactive side effects of THC in small doses include loss of inhibition, elation, and a distorted sense of time. The drug can also cause increased visual sensitivity and heightened imagination.
- Depending upon the weather conditions, soil type, and time of harvest for a cannabis plant, as well as the specific mixture of dried leaves and flowers in the marijuana product, a sample of marijuana can contain anywhere from 3% to 20% THC.
- Cannabis seeds were used as a food source in China as early as 6000 B.C.
- The first recorded use of marijuana in medicine occurred in 2737 B.C. by mythological Chinese emperor Shen Nung, who prescribed it for arthritis and gout.
- The first American marijuana law dates from 1619 and actually required farmers to grow hemp because its strong, soft fiber was used to make clothing, sails, and rope.
- During the temperance movement of the 1890s, marijuana was commonly recommended as a substitute for alcohol. Unlike liquor, marijuana did not lead to domestic violence.
- Access to marijuana was first restricted in the U.S. by the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The law did not prohibit marijuana use but imposed such a heavy tax that legal sale and use became impossible.
- In October of 1937, Samuel Caldwell was the first U.S. citizen arrested under the Act for selling marijuana without paying the new tax. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to four years in Leavenworth.
- Prior to its ban, hemp was a staple cash crop of the early American family farm. The first two drafts of the United States Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper.
- The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 made it illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana in the United States. The law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical use.
- Marijuana can be grown in almost every country, and production and trafficking comprise the world’s largest drug market. The United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) reports that marijuana is grown in 172 countries.
- Paraguay is believed to be the world’s largest current producer.
- According to the UNODC, there are several countries worldwide where more than 8% of the population use marijuana, among them: the United States, Canada, England, Spain, France, South Africa, and New Zealand.
- In 2007, nearly 900,000 arrests for marijuana violations were made in the United States. Approximately 90% of offenders charged with marijuana-related crimes were arrested for possession only.
- From 1850 to 1942, marijuana was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia as a useful medicine for nausea, arthritis, and labor pains, and was easily obtained at the local general store or pharmacy.
- Many studies support use of marijuana to treat: AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and chronic pain.
- In 2003, Canada became the first country to offer medical marijuana to people with chronic pain.
- In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana for those with a valid doctors’ recommendations.
- While marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law, 13 U.S. states currently have compassionate use laws in place that permit medical marijuana: AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MI, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, and WA. An additional 17 states and the District of Columbia have legislated to recognize the value of medical marijuana but do not protect users from federal prosecution.
Source Random History
- Abel, Ernest L. 1980. Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years. New York, NY: Plenum Press.
- Booth, Martin. 2003. Cannabis: A History. London, England: Doubleday.
- Chapkis, Wendy and Richard Webb. 2008. Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine. New York, NY: New York University Press.
- Leggett, Ted. “Why Should We Care About Cannabis?” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Accessed: November 29, 2008.
- Robinson, Rowan. 1996. “The Great Book of Hemp: The Complete Guide to the Environmental, Commercial, and Medicinal Uses of the World’s Most Extraordinary Plant“. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
- U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Marijuana Facts & Figures.” Accessed: February 10, 2009.
- World Drug Report 2008. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Accessed: December 2, 2008.
Find More Facts on Cannabis:
It’s a remarkable natural resource, but in the U.S., you can’t grow it.
- Hemp is among the world’s oldest cultivated plants, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of agriculture and civilization. The oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to 8,000 BC.
- US Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and U.S. farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.
- Hemp seed is nutritious and contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug (learn more at TestPledge.com).
- The bark of the hemp stalk contains fibers that are among the Earth’s longest and softest Hemp fiber is not psychoactive, but it’s longer, stronger, more absorbent, and more insulative than cotton.
- According to the Department of Energy, hemp is an excellent source of biomass fuel. Its hydrocarbons can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas. Development of bio-fuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.
- Hemp can be grown organically. Only eight of the 100 most prevalent agricultural pests attack it, and hemp is typically grown without herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. Hemp is also a natural weed suppressor due to the fast growth of its 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 with an acid-free process, does not yellow with age. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old survives today. Hemp paper is also more recyclable 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.
- Eco-friendly hemp could replace many toxic petrochemical products. Hemp also appears to be a good source of cellophane, biodegradable plastics, injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil. Over two million cars on the road today, mostly German, use hemp in door panels and dashboards.
Countries Growing Industrial Hemp Today
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not recognize the value of industrial hemp and permit its cultivation and processing.
AUSTRALIA Hemp has been grown around the country since 2004.
AUSTRIA’s hemp industry produces seed oil and medicinal preparations.
CANADA approved industrial hemp research in 1994. Tens of thousands of acres have been planted, yielding almost four million pounds of seed.
CHILE grows hemp for its seed oil.
CHINA is the largest exporter of hemp textiles. Hemp garments feel like cotton. The Chinese word for hemp is “ma.”
DENMARK has grown hemp since 1997.
FINLAND has bred a variety suitable for northern climates called Finola. Hemp has never been prohibited in Finland. In Finnish, it’s “hamppu.”
FRANCE has never prohibited hemp and exports low-THC hemp seed for other countries, including the U.S. The French call it “chanvre.”
GERMANY banned hemp in 1982, but relegalized research in 1992. Mercedes and BMW use hemp fiber in door panels and dashboards. In German, it’s “hanf.”
GREAT BRITAIN lifted hemp prohibition in 1993. Animal bedding, paper and textiles markets have been developed.
HUNGARY is one of the biggest exporters of hemp rope, rugs, and fabric to the U.S. The Hungarian word for hemp is “kender.”
INDIA uses the plant for cordage, textiles and seed.
ITALY has invested in the resurgence of hemp, especially for textiles. Giorgio Armani grows its own.
JAPAN has a rich religious tradition involving hemp, and custom requires that the Emperor and Shinto priests wear hemp garments in certain ceremonies. Traditional spice mixes also include hemp seed. Japan supports a thriving retail market for hemp products. The Japanese call it “asa.”
NETHERLANDS seed breeders are developing new low-THC varieties. The Dutch word is “hennep.”
NEW ZEALAND grows hemp on both islands.
POLAND currently grows hemp for fabric, rope, and particle board. Poles have pioneered using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated by heavy metals. In Polish, it’s “konopij.”
ROMANIA is Europe’s largest commercial producer of hemp. The country exports to Western Europe and the U.S. The Romanian word is “cinepa.”
RUSSIA maintains the largest hemp germplasm collection in the world at the N.I. Vavilov Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR) in St. Petersburg. Russians call it “konoplya.”
SLOVENIA uses hemp paper for its currency.
SPAIN has never prohibited hemp, and uses it to produces rope, textiles, and pulp for paper. The Spanish word is “cañamo.”
SWITZERLAND hosts one of the largest hemp trade events, Cannatrade.
TURKEY has grown hemp for 2,800 years for rope, caulking, birdseed, paper, and fuel. The Turkish word is “kendir.”
UKRAINE, EGYPT, KOREA, PORTUGAL and THAILAND also produce hemp.
UNITED STATES granted the first hemp permit in over 40 years to Hawaii for an experimental quarter-acre plot in 1999. The license was renewed, but the project has since been closed because of DEA opposition. But manufacturers have thrived using imported plant materials. Twenty-two states have considered legislation to legalize hemp cultivation, including: VT, HI, ND, MT, MN, IL, VA, NM, CA, AR, KY, MD, WV and ME. For years, the National Conference of State Legislators has endorsed industrial hemp.
- Chris Conrad, Hemp: Lifeline to the Future
- Jack Frazier, The Great American Hemp Industry
- Hemptech, “Industrial Hemp” and “Hemp Horizons”