[updated April 25th, 2014]
I am fully aware that basically what is being proposed here is not a new idea to the Native Peoples of this continent; my contribution is only one of specificity. An excellent overview of the issue of industrial hemp cultivation and Native Americans can be found in the documentary “Standing Silent Nation” (www.standingsilentnation.com).
In this essay, I begin with background information on cannabis prohibition, then give my arguments against it, and finish with a short strategy plan that can be adopted by Americans & Native Americans working in solidarity that believe will be very productive. I humbly submit this in support of all Native Americans in hope that it may serve as a plan of action that can not only increase their health, wealth and well-being, but also heal Mother Earth from the ravages of the oil, coal, uranium, timber, chemical/GMO agribusiness and livestock industries, along with the systematic problems of corporate exploitation/forced dependence and tyrannical sovereignty violations (by the DEA and others). Also this sustainable and self-sufficient model will be an example to Americans who have been thoroughly indoctrinated by corporate consumerism and participation in destructive social-systems that harm the environment and their own health & well being.
The amazing environmental and economic potential of Industrial Hemp is well understood by many people, including many Native Americans. The following is from an article by Winona LaDuke which appeared in Indian Country Today, September 19, 2001:
“The federal government should grant a waiver to Native Nations who seek to legalize the production of industrial hemp… Over the long term, the DEA’s policies and actions set back the economic, environmental, and public health needs of not only Native America, but also the broader American community.”
“Decriminalizing industrial hemp is the way of the future. The sovereign status of Native Nations raises questions about the application of DEA regulations in the face of tribal ordinances. The need for alternative economies in Indian country supports the need for change.”
In a letter to the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota, Oglala Tribal President John Yellowbird Steele said:
“The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 did not divest the Lakota people of our reserved right to plant and harvest whatever crops we deem beneficial to our reservation… we regard the the enforcement of our hemp ordinance and production of our marijuana laws tribal matters… we ask for your government’s compassion as we try to ease the pain of our poverty through hemp manufacturing… my nation needs to grow industrial hemp to aid our efforts at becoming more self-sufficient.”
Of course the immediate reaction of the US Federal Government/DEA is always something like: “Hemp is illegal to grow because it interferes with our ability to eradicate Marijuana.” One could argue against them by pointing out that industrial hemp has no usable THC, and therefore marijuana laws are not relevant, and that would be a good argument. However, the backward politicians will always use marijuana as the excuse as to why Native (and non-Native) American farmers can not grow hemp, regardless of whether that makes sense or not. The “war on drugs” in general is of course also a farce, the CIA and other governmental agencies have been involved in the illegal drug trade for a long time. They use this fake “war” to maximize profits and “justify” police-state measures domestically and violence abroad. This is just like the “war on terror” which is based on the Big Lie known as the official 9/11 story (See the documentary “9/11 Press For Truth” (www.911pressfortruth.com) and the book “The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions” by David Ray Griffin, along with the research of Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice (stj911.org) and Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (ae911truth.org)), that they use to “justify” an illegal war that has killed over a million Iraqis, and tortured and illegally detained countless others, while removing American citizens Constitutional Rights through treasonous bills like The Patriot Act, The Military Commissions Act, etc. I mention this here because it is necessary to openly reject these foundational lies if we are to move forward in the interest of sustainability, peace, justice and freedom. We must openly “honor, present and serve the truth”; it is the only way to effectively reject supposed “justifications” for the violence, oppression and destruction brought by a few ill-minded individuals in positions of power.
The oppression and tyranny imposed in the name of “the war and drugs” is well documented: illegal forfeiture (property seized from citizens who were not even charged with a crime), police-state surveillance, innocents killed in drug-raids, Native American crops being destroyed, arbitrary arrests and unjust imprisonments, etc. All of this will go on as long as we accept being treated like children, subject to the totally unjust tyranny of being told what things we can put in our own bodies and what we cannot. The international illegal drug trade causes more harm then the drugs themselves, and prohibition supports the continuation of this criminal market. Drug abuse and addiction is a health problem and should not be criminal in itself; Education and treatment are far more effective and compassionate to those that suffer from drug addiction.
The hypocrisy and destructive insanity of US Federal policy can be found in numerous areas, besides cannabis laws, and this is a manifestation of the fact they are basically operating as slave-masters, and that evil root will always produce evil branches, like cannabis prohibition.
Back to Industrial Hemp, it is the tough, course fiber of the cannabis sativa plant, which contains less than 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol – THC – the main active ingredient in marijuana. Marijuana is a strain of cannabis that contains much higher levels of THC. You can’t get high from smoking hemp, and eating hemp foods will not make you test positive for marijuana use in a drug test.
Hemp can easily replace trees for paper and building materials with a higher-quality fiber, significantly reducing the deforestation that accelerates global warming and the extinction of wildlife and plant species. Hemp is also an alternative to cotton for clothing that does not require the use of toxic pesticides (the cotton industry uses enormous amounts of harmful pesticides). Hemp-seeds are also very nutritious food source, and the high cellulose content of the hemp plant makes it ideal for conversion into ethanol fuel, which can be used by flexible-fuel vehicles (To learn more about the many beneficial uses of this amazing plant I recommend reading the book The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer, available online for free here: http://www.jackherer.com/thebook/ and also A Renewal of Common Sense by Erik Rothenburg, found for free here: http://www.votehemp.com/renewal.html#Treatise)
Industrial hemp is legal to grow in more than 30 countries, including Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, New Zealand, Romania, Russia and Spain. The U.S. federal government is certainly out of step with other countries concerning hemp policy. However, things are better at the state level, as of April 2014, these 13 states have removed barriers for industrial hemp production: California, Colorado, Indiana, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. Yet shouldn’t Native Americans be free to cultivate Industrial Hemp too? Aren’t they supposed to have more autonomy from U.S. law than those deemed citizens? American farmers should be growing hemp in defiance of the Federal level tyranny and in solidarity with Native Americans in reservations throughout this continent who also desire to grow hemp.
In order to help you have clear understanding of how wrong cannabis prohibition is I will now go into further detail about the law.
Drugs are placed into one of five schedules under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug, the most dangerous category, defined as having a high potential for abuse and having no currently accepted medical use in the United States. Claiming that natural marijuana has no medicinal value by placing it in the Schedule 1 drug category goes against the findings of doctors throughout the world, and is contradicted by the 21 states that have laws allowing seriously ill patients to use natural medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendation. It is also contradicted by the existence and use of artificial marijuana, known as Marinol, which is legal.
Many prohibitionists discredit the need for a hemp industry, saying hemp re-legalization is being used as a vehicle to re-legalize marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Administration said hemp legalization would interfere with its marijuana eradication program because of the similarities between the two types of cannabis plants. Therefore, hemp will probably never be re-legalized as long as marijuana remains prohibited. Marginalizing the legitimacy of the call to legalize marijuana by focusing solely on hemp re-legalization would be fruitless as well as wrong. After all, marijuana prohibition is an unconstitutional and oppressive policy, violating citizens’ right to control their own bodies without harming others or their property. Therefore, the call for legalization should be for industrial hemp, medical marijuana and the private and responsible recreational adult use of marijuana all together.
The many materials that hemp can produce, including paper, cloth, and Biomass fuel, can be of great benefit to Native Americans and the environment. Why are we using toxic polluting fuels instead of cleaner renewable fuels like Biofuel, Solar and Wind energy? Why are we destroying forests, drastically altering the Earth’s ecosystem for the worse, when we can use hemp to create higher quality paper and construction products instead? One is left to conclude that the reasons for the restrictions on the use of this plant are not based on the well being of the American people (and certainly not Native People either), but rather this law serves the financial interest of industries/agencies that would lose money and power if hemp and marijuana were a legal commodity.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act has been introduced in Congress, but has not been passed because of “concerns about marijuana.” This will always be their excuse and that is why I believe we should reject both laws restricting the growing of industrial hemp and marijuana for responsible adult use. Only if marijuana is legalized is it likely that hemp will be legalized, and marijuana should be legal, so there is no good reason to separate the issues; the US Federal government continues to use lies about marijuana as their supposed justification to continue the destructive and oppressive prohibition on industrial hemp, so we need to look into the marijuana issue first.
Why are marijuana’s many medicinal properties ignored by the federal government? Its placement as a Schedule 1 drug is in defiance to the conclusions of doctors and medical professionals from around the world. The debatable negative health effects of marijuana are minuscule when compared to the dangers of alcohol or tobacco, not one death has ever been attributed solely to marijuana use, while hundreds of thousands die from tobacco and alcohol every year in America. Defending the continued prohibition of cannabis in the interest of public health is completely ridiculous. The truth is the cannabis plant has been used as a safe and effective medicine throughout the world for centuries. A citizen’s responsible personal use of marijuana should no longer be a crime, it is an act that is certainly no more criminal then drinking wine or smoking tobacco.
The argument that marijuana prohibition protects our children is also not based in reality. Illegal drug dealers do not care how young a buyer is, and without legalizing and regulating marijuana, many children find it easier to buy than alcohol or tobacco. In Holland, where the sale of marijuana to adults is not criminalized, the percentage of teenagers using marijuana is less than half that of American teenagers.
Cannabis should be removed from the Schedule 1 category and be legalized and regulated like alcohol and tobacco – a minimum age of 21 for purchase and use, illegal for use while driving, and so on.
Marijuana and hemp prohibition costs billions every year to enforce, creates a black market that generates violence and corruption, and makes criminals out of millions of productive and harmless adults. Americans (both Native and non-Native) should once again have the legal right to use the cannabis plant for its many beneficial uses including medicine, paper, fuel, clothing and food. The book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” by Jack Herer (http://jackherer.com/) and the documentary “The Hemp Revolution” directed by Anthony Clarke are two great resources for further information on the benefits of hemp.
For those who wish to use this plant responsibly for medical or private use, and those who wish to use industrial hemp to help end deforestation and provide a source of income, food, clothing, shelter and fuel for their families, the US Federal government acts as an oppressor. Legalizing marijuana and hemp for adult use would not be a promotion of drug use, it would be a promotion of freedom and liberty that we are all entitled to.
There is no reason why we should allow lies, propaganda and outright oppression and tyranny to continue on for another generation; they are few, we are many. All we need is an effective plan of non-violent action to overthrow the destructive paradigm with a sustainable, just and healthy one.
There are many hemp products on the American market today, and their popularity grows every year. There are hemp clothing stores (www.hempstores.com) throughout the country as well as hemp food products (www.manitobaharvest.com, www.naturespath.com, etc.) on the shelves of countless markets coast to coast as well. All of the hemp that is used in these products is imported from other nations since it is illegal for Native and American farmers to grow hemp. There has recently been a lot of resistance to this from both Native and non-Native American farmers, people are growing it anyway, as they have the natural right to do. American hemp farmers should work in solidarity with Native Americans growing industrial hemp; the millions of dollars being made in this industry today can be made by Native Americans along with other hemp growers throughout the world.
When I buy hemp bread, cereal, hummus, waffles, hemp milk (www.livingharvest.com, a personal favorite), protein powder, hemp seed oil, etc. and I see the label “Product of Canada” etc., I think it should say “Product of the Republic of Lakota” (or any other tribe)! And I know I am not alone with this sentiment. Millions of Americans would support Native American business if given the opportunity; many Americans are aware of the history of European colonization, the genocide, the tyranny, the treaties that were all broken, etc. Many Americans of European descent like myself would love the opportunity to do anything, however small, in supporting Native American sovereignty and enterprise, especially when incorporating the industrial hemp industry, that all well-informed Americans support for the environmental and health benefits it offers. We would not only be helping Native Americans, we would be helping ourselves through the expansion of a sustainable industry that can replace the destructive and harmful petrol-chemical/coal/timber/nuclear, etc. industries currently dominating the market. Industrial hemp, used for biofuel, paper, clothing, etc., when coupled with renewable clean energy like solar and wind power, has the potential to save our planet’s ecosystem, our health and economic well-being.
All of the stores that carry hemp products currently would certainly purchase from Native Americans instead of other nations if given the choice. And yearly, there are Hemp Festivals held throughout the country (www.hempfest.org, www.bostonhempfest.com, etc.) that promote the hemp industry and speak out against cannabis prohibition, these festivals would be ideal for spreading the word about Native American grown hemp. Also along the many cannabis law reform organizations like VoteHemp.com, NORML (www.norml.org), MPP (www.mpp.org), the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.org) would surely support the movement for a Native American Hemp Industry.
If multiple tribes worked together and called on the support of a) those already growing hemp and b) organizations and festivals that support Hemp Legalization and c) consumers of hemp products, it would be an unstoppable force. The Feds/DEA would be powerless to mass civil-disobedience on such a large scale.
The potential for economic growth on Native reservations is astronomical, and of course this income is urgently needed due to the extreme poverty that currently exists on reservations. Who better than Native Americans to prosper from a new sustainable paradigm that incorporates the most beneficial plant known to man? Who better to openly reject and lead non-violent rebellion against the hypocrisy, ignorance, destruction and oppression of US Federal governmental policy? Like Winona La Duke said: “Decriminalizing industrial hemp is the way of the future.”
p.s. Along with Standing Silent Nation, watch the great documentaries “The Hemp Revolution” (http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/hemp-revolution/)
& “Bringing it Home” –> http://www.bringingithomemovie.com/
and read the new book Hemp Bound: http://dougfine.com/books/hemp-bound/
“Any religion or philosophy which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion or philosophy.” – Albert Schweitzer
[updated May 13th, 2014]
by Colin D. Donoghue
Caring about how we are effecting the Earth’s ecosystem should be a basic tenant of humanity, since the health and survival of our species depends on a healthy environment, but a lot of people don’t seem to care at all. The petroleum, nuclear, natural gas, coal, logging and livestock industries are destroying the environment at a scale never before seen in human history. The relationship between humans & the Earth has become an increasingly abusive one, to the point that it may result in ecological collapse. The glaciers keep melting, the temperature (and cancer rate) keeps rising, the weather becomes more destructive… and we are just letting these government-backed industries continue to lead us on a path of devastation and suffering. Earth Day passes once again while the obvious solutions to our own sickness and the sick ecosystem, most importantly veganic homesteading and industrial hemp production, still remain restricted by those who undemocratically control our lives, and of course, tax dollars. Most Americans would love to live more naturally and self-sufficiently, but cannot due to land costs and taxation. So, while we wait (or don’t wait) for the Right Revolution, there is something that effects the environment in a major way that most of us have choice over on a daily basis: the food we eat.
Here’s an amazing fact that is extremely under-reported: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that animal wastes pollute U.S. waterways more than all other industrial sources of water pollution, combined. And yet instead of calling for an end to factory farming, many environmental groups mostly ignore it (as explained in the documentary “Cowspiracy“) and instead suggest reforms that would have little positive impact. And its not just the water that the livestock industry is polluting. From ODE Magazine, December 2007:
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a report in 2006 called Livestock’s Long Shadow.
“The FAO concluded that the livestock industry accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than is produced by every form of transportation combined.”
“Consumers are told to conserve by switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, to take public transportation more often, to turn off the TV when they’re not watching. Why aren’t environmental organizations telling them to eat less meat?”
Veganism is the “elephant in the room” that isn’t being discussed because of ingrained conditioning as to what a “normal” diet is.
Why do most people claim to be against violence, yet participate in it everyday? It is because of false beliefs, a false morality, that says sometimes mass-murder and slavery is actually good and natural for humans. “I’m no mass-murderer or slave-driver” you may be thinking, but if you eat animal products, then that’s really not true. Getting vegan foods is extremely easy. We can choose foods that involve suffering, violence and environmental destruction, or those that do not. We don’t need to eat animal products for optimum health, or hunt animals for survival; we only have to make nonviolent choices at the supermarket, farmers market, a community garden, or on your own homestead.
“Children can, generally, make the philosophical switch easier than adults because the plant-based diet and related issues of compassionate living resonate perfectly with the innocence of childhood. To treat one animal as family and another as food, to continually feel sick and tired, to consider preventable open-heart surgery as “routine” and part of the aging process, or to watch others suffering are ideas that are inherently not acceptable to children. It seems to me tolerance for such ideas can only be achieved by repetitive cultural teaching of numbness. Being numb to animals in pain, numb to our effect on the ecosystem, [numb to thousands of civilians being killed by the US military/CIA/Blackwater, etc. I would like to add], and even numb to our to our own body’s cries for proper care are hallmarks of adults and older children in mainstream society.” – Kerrie Saunders, PhD (www. drfood.org)
I have seen video of the hellish experiences cows, pigs, chickens, etc. go through during captivity, transport and slaughter; it is perhaps the greatest motivator to change to a vegan diet. Short documentaries like “Meet Your Meat” and “Farm to Fridge” show you truth behind the animal flesh you eat, often without any thought of where and how it made its way to your mouth. If ever there was a hell on earth, it is the experience many animals go through in becoming food and during animal experimentations. Isn’t there something ethically wrong with tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves against us? Rather than go into the gorish details of what I know occurs, I will leave it to you to take personal responsibility and investigate this for yourself.
I have heard some repeated counter-arguments to adopting a vegan diet, and all have been unjustified. To the belief that we were “meant to” eat meat, I ask “says who?” Did you have a conversation with God and she/he/it told you you’re meant to eat animals? I doubt it. And if you happen to be Christian, the Bible actually says the opposite, on the first page! To quote from the book of Genesis, page 1:
“Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”
And also from the Old Testament we find:
“He who kills a bull, it is as if he slays a man.” (Isaiah 66:3)
Also from chapter 22 of the Dead Sea Scrolls it is written that Jesus said:
“For I tell you truly, man is more than beast. But he who kills a beast without cause, though the beast attack him not, through lust for slaughter, or for its flesh, or its hide, or yet for its tusks, evil is the deed which he does, for he is turned into a wild beast himself.”
To assume that animals were “made for humans to eat” lacks any plausible foundation. Seed bearing fruit however is obviously designed and intended to be eaten, so its seeds can return to the earth in fertilizer, so new fruit may grow. And many plants can be harvested over and over again without resulting in the death of the plant; another indication of its design to be used for food. We do not find such obvious design for food consumption in animals, who feel enormous amounts of physical and emotional pain like we humans do when are bodies are cut or our children are taken away from us and killed. A vegan diet is also better for own well-being; meat and dairy products are generally loaded with fat, hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. All of these can lead to disease and cancers. (Some also believe that eating animal flesh lowers our vibration due to the violence associated with it, and is therefore an obstacle to a spiritual path.)
Scientifically, we have the jaw structure, digestive system, etc. of an herbivore. The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted, The China Study, concluded that human physiology reacts best to a vegan diet! The argument that you can’t be healthy and get the protein you need without meat and dairy is completely false. You can, and the protein from plants is more easily absorbed by the body. The human body does not require meat to reach optimum health, and in fact some of the most fit and healthy bodies ever to walk this Earth were formed with vegan diets (and of course a lot of training!). Many of the world’s top athletes have vegan diets, including vegan body-builder Kenneth G.Williams, pictured here:
Getting back to the environment, a major reason for continued deforestation (along with not using hemp) is the expansion of land used for livestock. Deforestation is causing major ecological imbalances, and a meat-eating diet is directly linked to it.
About ninety percent of all our agricultural resources are used for the feeding of livestock. The land could be used instead to grow plant-foods to directly feed the hungry and starving, plant-foods like environmentally beneficial and nutrient-dense hempseed.
From the book The World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle:
“Everyone on Earth could be fed easily because we currently grow more than enough grain to feed ten billion people; our current practice of feeding this grain to untold billions of animals and eating them forces over a billion of us to endure chronic malnutrition and starvation while another billion suffer from the obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer linked with eating diets high in animal foods. The drugs we take to combat these diseases are discharged through the urine, flow into the water and become yet another major stream that adds to the pollution of our Earth.” (p. 191)
From environmental destruction to inflicting torturous pain on other beings, the modern meat industry is a clear example of something “bad.” That’s right, I made a moral judgment! I must be an extremist! (Or so says modern Sophists in America society conditioned into suppressing the use of their own conscience). The experience of pain in other mammals, birds and fish is virtually the same as our own. For those that say that there is no difference between killing plants and animals, they are basically delusional, ignoring the fact that animals definitely feel pain, have emotions and want to live, while picking an apple off a tree remains incomparable. Animals have feelings, have consciousness on some level, and so therefore should be treated as such, not just as animated food. Would you like to be imprisoned, tortured and then brutally murdered so someone could eat your flesh for dinner? I didn’t think so. Non-aggression remember? The foundation of a moral society? Speaking of which here are some salient excerpts from the excellent book The Nonviolent Revolution by Nathaniel Altman:
“In addition to its impact on animal welfare, a vegetarian lifestyle offers additional ‘ahimsic benefits’ towards one’s body, the environment, and the right utilization of the earth’s resources….The practice of feeding plant protein to livestock instead of directly to people places a tremendous strain on the earth’s resources, and contributes to the shortage of food around the world… In addition, a vegetarian diet calls for far less water than a diet containing meat… [which] utilizes some 2,500 gallons of water per day (including irrigation ,animal drinking water, and the large amount of water needed for the actual processing of meat), while the pure vegetarian (vegan) diet uses only 300 gallons per day. [According to Dr. Aaron Altschul of Georgetown University]”
Some more poignant information from Alternatives magazine (Winter 2007-08) in an article by Bruce Friedrich:
“Even leaving aside all the animal welfare issues, a vegan diet is the only reasonable diet for people in the developed world who care about the environment or global poverty… Environmental Defense, on its website, notes: “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains… the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. Roads.” Imagine if we stopped eating animal products altogether… Vegan foods cut out the factory farms, the slaughterhouses, and multiple stages of heavily polluting tractor-trailer trucks, as well as the resources (and pollution) involved in each of those stages… Choose vegan – and preferably organic [and local] – foods. It’s bad for the environment to eat animals. It’s time to stop looking for loopholes.”
And since I’m a fan of being blunt and cutting through the bullshit when appropriate, I’ll share such a statement from the book The Real Forbidden Fruit: How Meat Destroys Paradise And How Veganism Can Get It Back by Jeff Popick:
“There are many well-intentioned people who consider themselves to be environmentalists, and yet many of these people eat animal products, even though it is animal products that are primarily responsible for the demise of the environment. Eating meat kills animals, people and the planet. To be an environmentalist, one must be vegan.”
I know black & white statements are unpopular among many in this corrupted culture, but the truth must be told. Truth! Dare I say it in this world filled with post-modern nihilists? Total non-dualism/non-judgment is an idea that permeates all areas of modern culture, from those that are “cool” to those that are “square,” from the young to the old, from the academic to the spiritual, and it is corrupting the progress of mankind via its nonsensical rejection of conscientiousness. If you think there is no truth, no good or bad in the world, I’m sorry to say, you’ve become delusional. Instead of citing those that have backwards/insane ideas about morality and the environment (as supposed proof that all morality is bunk), why don’t you stand up for the sane perspective? I address this issue more in my essay “Eating the Apple.”
So, if we want a healthy, peaceful and sustainable world, that means: No war, No nukes, No coal or uranium mining, No clear-cutting, No petroleum or natural gas drilling, and No meat.