In Hemp: Lifeline to the Future

(Reprint of Brain/Mind Bulletin; Los Angeles, CA; August, 1994 issue)

Author Chris Conrad in his book, "In Hemp: Lifeline to the Future," traces the history of a plant that was long a linchpin of world agriculture: fast-growing, economical and immensely versatile. Yet in this century, a conspiracy of political and industrial forces cultivated fear of just one of its products - cannabis - to chase it from the scene.

Like Grinspoon and Bakalar, Conrad, a businessman and long-time hemp activist, makes convincing cases for both the medical use of marijuana and the necessity of drug-law reform. Even more pointedly, his extensively referenced book damningly documents how an alliance of oil and petro-chemical interests, including long-time Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, joined forces with newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst to mount a propaganda campaign against cannabis.

By inflaming fears of marijuana (an obscure name promoted by Hearst), they eventually succeeded, through the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, in destroying the domestic hemp industry.

The Virginia Law Review analysis of the 1937 hearings on the Marijuana Tax Act described them as "a near comic example of dereliction of legislative responsibility" and "a case study in legislative carelessness." It noted that "no primary empirical evidence was presented about the effects of the drug...(only) hearsay and emotional pleas from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and a few state law enforcement agents." The law "was tied neither to scientific study nor the law enforcement need." The legislative review concluded that Congress has been "hoodwinked."

The scene: America in the early 1900's Two powerful rivals, agriculture and industry, faced off over several multi-billion-dollar markets - This time in the form of hemp against oil. Fortunes would be made . . . and lost. When Rudolf Diesel produced his famous engine in 1896, he assumed it would be powered by a "variety of fuels, especially vegetable and seed oils." Like most engineers, Diesel realized that vegetable fuels, especially hemp, are superior to petroleum.

The promise that hemp held for the rest of the world was quickly perceived as a threat by a small core of powerful people in the elite special-interest oligarchy dominated by the DuPont petrochemical company and its major financial backer and key political ally . . . Andrew Mellon.

Through careful bureaucratic control of both legislation and enforcement, the hydrocarbon interests achieved market supremacy by turning a blind eye to the poisons generated by industrial hydrocarbons while imposing extreme obstacles on natural carbohydrates, supposedly because the latter cause physical pleasure. And ever since the release of Bulletin 404 (a research paper by the Department of Agriculture touting hemp pulp as a source of paper, plastics and other everyday goods), the Hearst newspaper/timber interests had supported the petrochemical campaign against hemp. In just a few years, the Hearst newspapers and their allies were able to whip up enough confusion and hysteria to ramrod a "marijuana" prohibition bill through Congress in less than three months. Over the decades, an entrenched "marijuana bureaucracy" used its influence to demand ever more prohibition-enforcement funds. Canada's LeDain Commission Report of 1972 lamented that the debate on non-medical cannabis use "all too often has been based on hearsay, myth and ill-informed opinion about the effects of the drug."

It is significant that when hemp was "controlled" by the federal government, it was outlawed for almost every use except birdseed, which was mostly imported and did not compete with DuPont, Mellon, Hearst or any of their allies' financial interests. The imported seed was required to be sterilized. The regulations for use of the herb by physicians were so complicated that they were not likely to have prescribed it since, which expanded the opening for synthetic drugs to take over the cannabis market.

In that same year, 1937, DuPont filed its patent on nylon, a synthetic fiber that took over many textile and cordage markets that would have gone to hemp. More than half the American cars on the road between 1922 and 1984 were built by General Motors, which guaranteed DuPont a captive market for paints, varnishes, plastics, rubber, etc. The DuPonts were able to use their control of the entire sphere of the auto and fuel industries to keep out incompatible technologies. It made little difference to them that Henry Ford built a hemp-mobile and secretly grew fields of hemp to become independent of the oil industry. He could not keep it up long under the state and federal bans.

Finally, the attitude toward the cannabis user changed overnight once he became a criminal. This activity that had been merely a pleasant pastime was now perceived to be a moral pestilence - a plague that destroyed the spirit and left the body to rot. Hispanics and the African-American blues and jazz culture soon fell under a systematic racist attack by prohibition bureaucrats, who used the cannabis ban to imprison minority community leaders and undermine the positive role models they provided. With their new police power, the marijuana bureaucrats had a clear field for their economic, political and social agendas.

In Hemp: Lifeline to the Future - $13.00 call 1- (800) HEMPMAN


Discover the Earth's premier renewable resource in the book, "Industrial Hemp"... This 48 page handbook explains why thousands of farmers, citizens, and businesses are returning to hemp... This book is available from THE LIGHT PARTY for $4.95, plus $2.00 shipping and handling...

20 Sunnyside Avenue, Suite A-156
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.

Back to Top

Back to Energy Directory