Hemp

Welcome to… Hemp History Week? Yes indeed. The largest national grassroots marketing and public education effort to renew support for the legalization of hemp farming in the U.S. is now celebrating its 3rd year June 4-10 with events across the country including a day of action, special retail promotions and a national restaurant program.

If America’s prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and ’30s seems like a strange archaic behavior of our more unevolved times, guess what: we’re living through another one right now possibly even more egregious considering the inherent benefits of the banned plants—hemp and marijuana—versus alcohol. Many of us alive today, with the success of educational efforts like Hemp History Week, will see the legalization of marijuana and its non-psychoactive, highly useful cousin, hemp, in the U.S., both of which have been demonized and vilified despite thousands of years of documented effective use in a number of circumstances.

Navitas Naturals, one of the nation’s premier superfood companies, says that hemp is one of the earliest known plants, cultivated by humans some 12,000 years ago. This incredibly sustainable crop “offers a huge nutritional content. Hemp seeds are naturally a fantastic protein source: they contain all of the essential amino acids, are highly digestible, and are one of the highest sources of complete protein of all plant-based foods. Hemp also has a very well balanced ratio of essential fatty acids (EFAs) – Omega 3, 6, and 9 – which are excellent for cardiovascular health and promote a strong immune system (among many other benefits). A great source of dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium, hemp is a true superseed.”

If there is a miracle plant with humanity’s best interest in mind, it just might be the hemp plant. Hardy, fast-growing and loaded with healthy, digestible nutrients, John Roulac, founder of Nutiva and one of the supporters of Hemp History Week, says hemp has environmental benefits in replacing wood, cotton and petroleum-based products like fuel and plastic, along with its “amazing nutritional qualities” virtually unrivaled in the plant kingdom.

Even musician and son of legend Bob Marley, Ziggy, has traded in his spliffs for seeds with the recent launch of his line of flavored organic hemp seeds called Hemp Rules. Marley, one of Hemp History Week’s biggest supporters, says that food has a message, and what we put in our bodies is incredibly important not just for us, but for the planet, too. Marley has down-graded his use of marijuana, focusing more on the benefits of the hemp plant to help boost his health, the health of his children, and now with Hemp Rules, hopefully the health of millions of Americans.

The Bronner family, known for their natural food store staple, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, added hemp oil to their products in recent years, and President David Bronner even got arrested for planting industrial hemp seeds on the lawn of the DEA in 2009. In a recent interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, Bronner talked about the company’s support of Hemp History Week and commitment to using hemp oil in their soaps (it makes soap incredibly lush and moisturizing), because “it’s at the nexus and intersection of environmental policy and drug policy.” And you can’t have conversation in this country about hemp prohibition without addressing marijuana prohibition, which Bronner says, “is just a disaster around the world—and psychedelics prohibition, in general. It has such promise and hope for helping us lead more conscious and compassionate lives. In industrial hemp—these are the fiber and seed varieties of cannabis—they have no drug value whatsoever. And it just kind of highlights the absurdity and bankrupt nature of the drug war.”

Hemp History Week’s goal of getting 5,000 Americans to send letters to their Senators urging them to co-sponsor the Senate companion bill to H.R. 1831, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011, could make hemp farming legal in the U.S., which, according to Roulac, “will add thousands of new jobs, cut down on pollution, and lower the price of hemp products [which can be imported from other countries, the plants just cannot be grown here].” With 1 in 3 adult Americans clinically obese in the U.S., making a healthy food like hemp more available and affordable certainly seems to be in the best interest for the country. Says Marley, “I want people to start thinking about what they’re putting in their bodies more. And that’s part of a movement that’s getting bigger and bigger.”

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: vhhammer