What would you say if I told you there is one plant that can serve most of the basic needs of mankind—food, shelter, clothing, fuel—but few people in the 21st century are "legally permitted" to grow it? "Is this a conspiracy?" might be your response.
Does the name "marijuana" ring a bell? It has been used demonise the most useful species of the plant kingdom: the humble Cannabis Sativa, also commonly called "hemp". The conditioning is so complete that even the sight of a picture of the leaf creates an enormous impact on the average person's psyche. Generally, the most immediate reaction to an image of the hemp leaf is "drugs".
The connotation is negative. In order for hemp to make a resurgence into the modern world, a new paradigm needs to infiltrate into the minds of ordinary men, women and children.In Australia in 2002, the Queensland state government legalised hemp growing under licence. Since that time, I have been growing hemp and manufacturing products from the fibre and seed oil. Even though I've been challenged with enormous difficulties and seemingly insurmountable ignorance, I've found that the importance of establishing hemp as a crop far outweighs the opposition.In the last year, I've attended several shows and functions addressing the general public. Interestingly, many young people are actually afraid even to try hemp oil on their skin.
They ask questions like: "Will I get stoned?' If I smoke this T-shirt, will I get high?" They only recognise the hemp leaf as an illicit substance, not as the leaf of a plant which has useful, practical end uses. The most common response from people who suddenly realise the full import of hemp as a commercial crop is: "Why isn't everyone growing it?"
How could something so good become so bad? The purpose of this article is not to cover the political position and history of hemp in the last century: there has already been enough coverage of this in the last few decades from cannabis activists.
Now that we are getting over that hurdle of being able to grow the crop again, let's focus on the next generation of the most positive outcomes and scenarios for realising hemp as a common household term. Being a plant that's part of the natural world, hemp has been used by humans for millennia. Despite efforts to wipe it out, it's a tough survivor. Let's hope it's back to stay!