One thing that often gets overlooked in the hyperbole surrounding recreational cannabis is that farmers in a few lucky states have quietly begun raising industrial hemp. Some day the impact of this activity will be way more far-reaching than recreational and even medical applications for the plant. So many aspects of modern society that are damaging to our environment can be mitigated by replacing petroleum products with hemp products. There are at least 5000 products that can be manufactured from hemp. The non-hemp alternatives are often made out of environmentally irresponsible materials such as petroleum-based plastics, timber, or cotton. (Did you know that cotton is responsible for 50% of the pesticides used in this country and that hemp requires no pesticides?) They are even experimenting with the use of hemp instead of graphene to manufacture supercapacitors, and the results are producing a slightly better and staggeringly cheaper battery that is also gentler on the environment.
The uses of this material have been known for a long time. Harry Jacob Anslinger is often vilified as the engineer of the US government’s anti-cannabis smear campaign but in fact he was just a pawn for his father-in-law, Andrew Mellon, who was the banker for both Hearst and DuPont. Hearst was heavily invested in timber and DuPont in petrochemicals, both of which were threatened by cheap and renewable cannabis. It was these men, along with people in the oil industry and the burgeoning pharmaceutical industry (such as Rockefeller and Carnegie) who engineered this back-door attack on one of our country’s first and most important crops. One of our least expensive and most trusted medicines was sacrificed in the process.