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   FFF      PPPPP     The Industrial Uses of Marijuana      FFF      PPPPP
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   Article written by John Getpman for the "Loompanics Unlimited Catalog".
   Tommy's Holiday Camp BBS [3/12/24][108 megs online].........604-383-7874

   The marijuana plant  is one of  the  great unused economic resources  in
America  today.  The  successful  commercial exploration  of the  marijuana
plant will bring about a renaissance  in the  Americas  that will  dominate
the next century.  The  self-proclaimed  moralists advocating  the  current
prohibition  against  the  marijuana plant,  because  of  the  intoxicating
effects  of its flowers,  have binded our society,  and themselves,  to the
incredible  potential this plant has  for  America's future.  Civilizations
have  risen  and  fallen  with their  ability to  maximize  the  long  term
exploration  of  their  agricultural  resources.  Prior  to  the  twentieth
century,  the marijuana plant  (then known more modestly as hemp)  was  the
single  most important industrial,  or non-food  producing crop in  America
and the world.   We must conserve the knowledge of the gifts the  marijuana
plant offers human  society, and  apply  that  knowledge if our way of life
is to prosper.
   Before  attending to a discussion  of its industrial  use, the  question
of the intoxicating qualities of marijuana needs to be  briefly  addressed.
Marijuana  has been used  as an intoxant,  and as a therapeutic  drug,  for
thousands  of years,  as well as  an economic  resource.   It has  economic
value  as an  intoxant,  as does alcohol,  and as a medicine.  While  these
uses are  being  debated,  the  less  controversial  issue  of  marijuana's
industrial  potential  is generally  ignored.  In fact,  that  demonstrates
the odd, myopic hysteria  surrounding marijuana  that  hides  from  us  the
benefits the plant has to offer us.
   A case  for the  economic potential  of the intoxicating product  of the
marijuana  plant,  its flower buds,  would be simple to make.   As a black-
market crop it has  become  the most  valuable farm crop  in  the  country.
This  alone  argues  for  it's  legalization.  And like  the Greeks,  whose
development accelerated dramatically when their farmers  found that growing
grapes  for  wine  provided  capital  for  economic  development,  American
civilization would prosper.  But the industrial uses of the marijuana plant
make it a multi-purpose crop that will spread prosperity around the  globe.
   The marijuana plant is a cheap, conservative source  of the most durable
fiber on the planet,  as well as for pulp.  Long ago the U.S. Department of
Agriculture  found that one acre of hemp could provide the same quantity of
pulp as four acres of trees. This year the Agriculture Department announced
the  need  to  double  our  timber harvest  by the year 2030,  and industry
spokespersons  for the forest products industry  said  that  still wouldn't
meet the demand for timber.   The marijuana plant  could take the burden of
pulp  production away  from  our  forests, leaving more trees avaliable for
construction, leaving our forests intact & providing a refuge for wildlife.
Why is pulp so valuable?  We make paper out of it, and a lot of it at that.
   A Chinese man,  Ts 'a Lon,  invented the world's first paper in 105 A.D.
The  chinese  were quite familiar with the  Marijuana plant.  Fabric-marked
pots and hemp textiles  dated to 4000 B.C. have been found in North Central
China.  In the  Neolithic era  Chinese  produced  clothing, rope, fishnets,
pottery mats, food, and oil  all from the  marijuana plant.  They were also
familiar with the intoxicating properties of the flowers.
   The marijuana plant  has been culturally significant  throughout Western
Civilation. The Romans cultivated it for use in making clothing,strong rope
and durable sailcloth.  Henry VIII  ordered every farmer to  cultivate  1/4
acre of hemp for every 60 acres  they  tilled.  He  was  on  to  something-
seapower.  The  list of ship  paraphernalia provided by the marijuana plant
includes sails, riggings, anchor ropes, cargo nets,fisherman's nets, flags,
shrouds,clothing, thread and more.  In the age of Discovery an average ship
required 50 to 100 tons of hemp rigging.
   Prior  to the twenthieth century the marijuana plant provided almost all
of the world's paper, textiles, and rope.  It was  essential  for  cultural
development, meeting the basic needs of the populace (clothing), and access
through, and rule over, the high seas.  It was the stuff their empires were
built on.  Most importantly, the marijuana plant provided  the  elements of
self-reliance to the newly created American colonies.
   In Common Sense, Thomas Paine argues that among other reasons, Americans
should fight for independance  because we possessed  the  natural resources
that could  bring us greatness.  One bit of evidence  he offered  was  that
"Hemp abounds."  Indeed,  the first edition of  Paine's  Common  Sense  was
published on hemp paper.  At  Jamestown,  in 1619,  one  of  the first laws
passed in the new land required farmers to grow hemp.  It was  legal tender
in America from 1631  to the early 1800's.  The  marijuana  plant  was  the
chief  cash  crop in  Kentucky  until the  Civil  War.  Not  only  did  the
marijuana plant hold together the ship that brought our ancestors here,  it
also provided the canvas that covered the Conestoga wagons that settled the
   The  marijuana plant  was so widely used  that  despite the considerable
attention given to growing it in the U.S., Russia  remained the supplier of
80% of the world's hemp  until  late  into the 19th century.  It  might  be
argued that the marijuana plant's  value diminished when seapower lost it's
reliance on sails.  However during World War II  America lost her source of
marijuana fiber when the Japanese took the Phillipines. The U.S. government
planted over 400,000 pounds of marijuana seed  to  produce  42,000 tons  of
hemp rope annually for the war effort.
   In  1936  Popular Mechanics  hailed  the invention of a new machine that
processed hemp fiber and beckoned a  new age  in the exploration  of  hemp.
Reefer Madness dawned instead,and the incredible potential of the marijuana
plant remains untapped.
   Besides being a more productive source of pulp than trees and producing
the  most  durable  natural  fiber  known to  man, the marijuana plant has
another  valuable industrial  property.  It  provides  4 to 50  times  the
Cellulose  found in a  cornstock.   Cellulose can be made into methanol, a
cheap, clean fuel.
   The cultivation of marijuana plants has ecological  benefits aside from
saving trees, a worthy feat in itself.  A  marijuana plant  puts down a 10
to 12 inch root compared to a 1 inch root of rye and barley.This long root
breaks the soil and leaves it good for next year. It is a wise decision to
plant it on land laying fallow, or after forest fires, because these roots
will prevent soil erosion and also preserve the watershed.The leafy nature
of  the plant will  cover the weeds  and starve them of sunlight.  It even
provides a way of clearing a field before planting another crop. According
to  Popular  Mechanics, two  crops  of  marijuana  will  reclaim land from
thistles. All the farmer has to do is harvest the stalks before they go to
seed.  And by the way, one acre can yield 3-6 tons of hemp,  a nice way to
suppliment to any farmer's income.
   Clearly the marijuana  plant  has  potential  as  an industrial, multi-
purpose crop.  It is a source of fiber, pulp, energy  and  has  beneficial
ecological value.  It is an agricultural resource our farmers  can  use to
strengthen their finances  and  protect  the  family  farm  from  the  now
treacherous farm economy, our  society,  and  our  future.  But  is  it of
significance to the advancement of our civilization?
   History  and anthropology  reveal to us  how crucial exploration of the
marijuana plant was to the development of  American  culture  and  Western
Civilization.It helped make possible such historic acts as the exploration
of the world by sea, the printing of the Guntenberg Bible, the declaration
of Independance, the U.S. Constitution, and even  protected  our  soldiers
from the cold at Valley Forge.  It is people who  make  history, but  they
make it out of material things.  It is the human spirit that is  inspired,
but  they  need  tools  and  products  to   express  that  spirit.   Great
civilizations are built out of human survival, & human survival comes from
the efficient exploitation of all our natural crops.
  It  can be said that the exciting potential of the marijuana plant, it's
energy  potential  notwithstanding, may  have  had  its  day prior to  the
industrial revolution that has shaed our modern society. In  fact, this is
the most crucial lesson we must realise and  apply.  Much  of  this  world
lags behind in the development that characterizes  our society.  Marijuana
helped the American colonies begin their development, and  it can  do  the
same to the Third World.  The marijuana plant provides a  means for  these
societies to accelerate their development  that  is  compatible  with  the
agriculturally  based  indigenous  cultures  they  are  composed  of.  The
cultivation of  marijuana,then, also provides a means to promoting freedom
in the undeveloped world.  This is what will lead to a new renaissance.
THE INDUSTRIAL USES OF MARIJUANA is reprinted by permission from the Fall,
1986 COMMON SENSE FOR AMERICA, published  by The National Organization For
The Reform of Marijuana Laws.  Comments should be addressed to:

2001 "S" Street NW, #640
Washington, D.C.
   Written by "The Free Press" January 14, 1990