Breaking: California Legislator Files "Tax and Regulate" Marijuana Legalization Bill in Wake of Poll Showing Majority West Coast Support

A bill to tax and regulate the production and sale of marijuana will go before the California legislature. At a press conference at his San Francisco offices -- going on right now -- California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano announced he was introducing legislation to do just that. The bill comes as the state is in the grip of a strong economic downturn and a severe fiscal crisis. Estimates of tax revenues that could be generating by regularizing the status of California's leading cash crop range from $1.5 billion to $4 billion a year. A poll by Zogby International, released last week, found majority support on the west coast for the proposed reform. I am currently at the press conference, and will post a more detailed report later today. Phil's report, including pictures from the press conference, is online here. Check back Friday morning at the same URL for a full-length Drug War Chronicle feature story.
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I applaud him for the move

but I actually prefer the MERP model for cannabis and other natural psychoactive substances -- if it doesn't require some form of processing other than drying (or boiling down as in the case of opium) and trimming after harvest, it's a natural psychoactive substance -- over tax and regulate. Let's leave the tax and regulate to the processed or synthetic drugs like cocaine, heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, aspirin, NSAIDS, etc..

I'm sure others of you have noticed that whenever the government (any level) gets a new source of revenue, government just grows more bloated and costly, and the tax gets increased very soon thereafter, again, and again, and again. The tax will never be repealed, the regulation will get more restrictive until we end up with defacto criminalization again (just look at what has happened to smokers of tobacco, they've become pariahs in society).

Initially, I was on the tax and regulate bandwagon, as I thought it would be a way to convince our legislators to end Prohibition 2.0, but I've spent some time thinking about it and doing a bit of research into the MERP model, and that has convinced me otherwise.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Kudo's--Hurray!!!

Finally, someone steps forward enough for an introduction bill into legislation! Now lets fine tune it and see it through...

google "THC Cancer"

google "THC Cancer"

what about

"tobacco cancer". My friend, get with the times, this isn't the 1930's!!

Contact His Office

Follow the link on his name. Contact his office and applaud him for his efforts. We need to show politicians that taking a stand on marijuana policy has the support of a huge amount of people across the country. Other politicians will take note in time.

Finaly

As we saw with the end of Alcohol prohibition, this is the only way to stop the violence caused by pretending we can stop 20,000,000 people from doing something they want to do.

Thank you Sir for taking a stand against this national travesty!

Thank you Tom Ammiano

I followed the link to his name and thanked him for his courage, as suggested above.

I also suggest everyone do the same.

I want to live on the left coast

long live the left coast

thats bullshit

damn you guys are all messed up,ruining MY COUNTRY like this .you know marijuana kills people and ruins lives and turns people into pedophiles why you gonna go do something stupid like this.your sending america to hell and every other county is gonna be mad at us for doing something this foolish.you potheads dont deserve the right to vote or free speech.or any goddamn rights.I'm sending a Petition to have anyone who touched it be arrested and excuted .without trial.fucking childmolesters make me sick to death. to hell with califorinas evil new laws you know damn well it has no fucking medical value

that's bullshit

of course the first thing i noticed about that's bullshit is he is anonymous uneducated & a stupid dumbass.
jackie

Been here a few days!

He's a troll, looking to argue with everyone and anyone!

rofl

lol, how can this guy be so sure what turns people into child molesters without being one himself? just because you got high one day and realized your a child molester does not mean everyone else is too, you obviously was a molester before the weed. i think hes scared if pot was legalized the cops may focus on real crimes and his past as a repeat sex offender might come out..

marijuana

I don't know your name, and I hope I never meet anyone like you.
What you said about people being child moslesters for smoking marijuana and all the rest, you must be the most stupid person in the world or the meanist.
You know nothing about the product, or you wouldn't be running your mouth.
read the Docutmentary internal rev. marijuana tax act signed in 1937.
And then shut your mouth you half wit.

Wow

The previous post above mine is an obvious king among men and should be commended for his out right stupidity. The fact of the matter is that people such as yourself are ruining this country. The simple inconcievable notion that marijuana turns people into child molestors is comically sick at best, this person is most likely masks themselves as a right wing christian fanatic in order to mask their own pediphilic tendancies stemming from daddy molesting them as a small child. Really do you have anything intellectually stimulating to add to the argument or just extremest ideals that have no grounds but would be absolutely loved in the Taliban. And trust me dipshit I am a hardcore rebuplican but that just makes us look bad!

Finally

Please, Marijuana users and supporters, of this bill, need to stop calling marijuana a drug and start referring to it as an herb because the more that people think of marijuana as a drug the less they are going to be willing to legalize it. People need to understand that many of the problems in the past involving marijuana is propaganda and are used to control US citizens. It is not going to be an easy fight for our freedom to used marijuana, but our freedom is worth fighting for.

Jobs restored ! Mills purchase leftover medical cannabis stems

Well it looks like our jobs are going to be restored. This is so beautiful. Now the medical cannabis herb growers can grow enough huge potent herb plants to supply the mills for making lumber and fiberboard as seen in THE HEMP REVOLUTION. HUGE POTENT PLANTS HAVE THE BEST FIBERS FOR FOR COMPOSITE LUMBER,FIBERBOARD,HEMPCRETE/HEMP CONCRETE,AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST A HIGHER PROTIEN AND OIL COUNT FOR FOOD AND BIODIESLE. WE WELCOME WITH JOY ALL THE FOOD, CLOTHING,SHELTER,MEDICINE AND FOODS WHICH CAN NOW, FINALLY BE PRODUCED FROM A MULTI PURPOSE MEDICAL CANNABIS CO-OP. OUR JOBS ARE RESTORED HIP HIP HOORAH ! SEE YOU ALL ON THE ORGANIC FARMS. HAPPY TO SEE THE MILLS HAVE DAILY SUPPLY OF PRODUCT FROMM THE MEDICAL CANNABIS GROWING JOBS RESTORED AS WELL ! ANYHOO BLESSINGS AND HAPPINESS TO ALL

Low potency plants only scam finally ends

This is so cool that the low potency cannabis only for industry scam is dead. You all will soon see noticeable prosperity everywhere as Medical cannabis stems leftover from large bud harvests will be available for making any and every product while creating a whole lotsa a jobs ! awsome!

Organic Medical Cannabis Farmers Supply Stems For Local Mills

Organic medical cannabis growers now have another product besides organic herb . Now the leftover stems of large outdoor and greenhouse grown medical cannabis is available annually for composite lumber,fiberboard,paper;basically any wood product can now be obtained from medical cannabis farmers and medical cannabis craftspeople. The restoration of our jobs,economy,and well being has been a long fight and now has certainly proved worth fighting for. have a fantastic one and see you all on the organic farms peace!

YAH HUH!

I THOUGHT THAT D.E.A. LOW POTENCY ONLY THING WAS A SCAM SUCH AS THE WHOLE WAR AGAINST DRUGS IS A SCAM. NOW I KNOW WHY RANDOLPH HEARST FRAUDULENTLY PAID THE POLITICIANS TO MAKE CANNABIS ILLEGAL! WHAT A RELIEF TO KNOW THAT THE WAR AGAINST DRUGS IS OVER! SHOUT IT ! THE WAR AND THE WAR AGAINST DRUGS IS OVER ! UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAW ENFORCERS ARE NO LONGER WELCOME AND ARE NO LONGER ALLOWED TO BE IN ENFORCEMENT POSITIONS!

Refuse to recognize unconstitutional law enforcement:

To all unconstitutional legal system enforcement your authority is no longer welcome here your wars and plunder are not accepted, get out ! Simple and to the point! Just GET OUT !!!!

YUPP i aggree

HELL YEAH MAN pots for losers man it dont make you cool it's just dumb thats why i just drink and everyone knows your cool when you can down a party handler of whisky everyday by yourself . and i work out the only cool drug out there is steriods and i use them and it works great hasnt done no harm to me and ive been taking them for 7 years straight and my penis still is big

lol

i love how retards come on the internet to bash any talk of marijuana reform. one amusing fact to all these people is that their pretty much all addicted to either alcohol or tobacco already(if not both), and most likely love to pop the occasional un perscribed pill...but somehow in their delusion filled ego they honestly believe their opinion counts. if you dont like pot dont smoke it....whats so hard to understand about that? its a medical fact marijuana itself cannot kill you, but alc tobacco and perscription pills CAN....but apparently the truth is way too complicated for people to understand.

Release the political prisoners!

Release all people in jails,prisons,penalty programs who are in for organically grown botany/farming which the terrorist war against drugs pushers fraudulent occupation fraudulently prohibits. Release the political prisoners and end the war against drugs.Arrest the war against drugs pushers for operating unconstitutional branches of government. If this does not happen immediately We will bankrupt all Global Petrochemiceutical drug Corporations so severely that not another one of their commercials for their petrochemiceutical drugs ever makes it to any television audience ever,anywhere. We are about to show on worldwide television just how the war against drugs pushers and the petrochemiceutical drug corporations are using laws to do exactly what Martha Stewart was imprisoned for but on a much larger scale ! Dont think we are serious ? Just watch. In a few Hours the lid is being blown off the war against drugs/global petrochemical based drug corporate insider trading scam .

Charges filed world wide against all war against drugs enforcers

A group of well known civil/human rights organizations worldwide have filed numerous violent crime and insider trading charges against the unconstitutional war against drugs and the fraudulent government and drug corporation personnel profiting from the sadistic insider trading scam. over 75,000 Constitutional police and military troops are arresting/removing the fraudulent war against drugs profiteers right now. We are already seeing war against drugs scammers from upper level D.E.A. agents to global drug corporation c.e.o.s attemting to escape to countries without extradition policy. Were watching one of the BIG war against drugs plunderers board a plane to Venezuela right now. The the end of war against drugs is happening now and the terrorists are being removed from law enforcement positions.

Respectful Request to L.E.A.P.:

We the people respectfully request the removal of the war monger,prohibitionists, and their unconstitutional terror and plunder based fraudulent forced religious cult posing as government. Tank you for your service and kindness.

Ford's first Model-T was built to run on hemp

Ford And Deisel Never
Intended Cars
To Use Gasoline
8-15-5

Henry Ford's first Model-T was built to run on hemp gasoline and the CAR ITSELF WAS CONSTRUCTED FROM HEMP! On his large estate, Ford was photographed among his hemp fields. The car, 'grown from the soil,' had hemp plastic panels whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel; Popular Mechanics, 1941.

http://www.illuminati-news.com/marijuana-conspiracy.htm

Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel engine, designed it to run on vegetable and seed oils like hemp; he actually ran the thing on peanut oil for the 1900 World's Fair. Henry Ford used hemp to not only construct cars but also fuel them.

As an alternative to methanol, hemp has at least one glowing report: the plant produces up to four times more cellulose per acre than trees. And a hemp crop grows a little quicker than a forest.

As for an alternative to petroleum...

Hemp grows like mad from border to border in America; so shortages are unlikely. And, unlike petrol, unless we run out of soil, hemp is renewable.

Growing and harvesting the stuff has much less environmental impact than procuring oil.

Hemp fuel is biodegradable; so oil spills become fertilizer not eco-catastrophes.

Hemp fuel does not contribute to sulfur dioxide air poisoning.

Other noxious emissions like carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are radically slashed by using "biodiesel.

Hemp fuel is nontoxic and only a mild skin irritant; anybody who,s ever cleaned out an old carburetor with gasoline can confirm the same is not true for petrol.

Growing hemp for fuel would be a tremendous boon for American farmers and the agricultural industry, as opposed to people like, say, the Bush family.

And that,s why hemp might not go anywhere as a fuel alternative. Oil interests are big and donate likewise to politicians, and selling a man on an idea that will cost him more than he,ll benefit requires an amazingly skilled orator -- or a gun. Unfortunately, unless you,re the federal government, gunpoint conversions are usually illegal. Ergo, PR is about the best bet right now.

There are many people working hard on this front, including the Hemp Car and its intrepid crew. Currently ginning up for a trans-America evangelism tour, the Hemp Car plans to spread the good word of hemp-fuel viability at stops in both the U.S. and Canada.

For whatever good it will do, they should make sure to stop by Washington, D.C., and have a word with President George W. Bush. The current oil crisis and our nation,s dependency on sometimes-persnickety foreign sources might find the new chief executive with an open mind to fuel sources other than Texas tea -- regardless of his oily bank accounts. And, while salvaging his dad's legacy is not Goal 1 for Dubya, it might also help him look more forward thinking in terms of energy policy and the environment.

Of course, hemp fuel may never take off. It might dry up like all those hemp crops left unattended after the feds banned their cultivation in the 1930s. One way or the other, Bush should consider freeing up the market to innovate with alternative fuels like hemp oil -- it couldn,t hurt, and it stands the chance to help. In so doing, he,ll end his term with a far better moniker than the "environmental president." For, if other policy decisions he makes go in a similar direction, we can perhaps call him the "free-market president."

http://www.rockhawk.com/gasoline_and_hemp.htm

Fuel of the Future

When Henry Ford told a New York Times reporter that ethyl alcohol was "the fuel of the future" in 1925, he was expressing an opinion that was widely shared in the automotive industry. "The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit like that sumach out by the road, or from apples, weeds, sawdust -- almost anything," he said. "There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There's enough alcohol in one year's yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for a hundred years."

Ford recognized the utility of the hemp plant. He constructed a car of resin stiffened hemp fiber, and even ran the car on ethanol made from hemp. Ford knew that hemp could produce vast economic resources if widely cultivated.

Ford's optimistic appraisal of cellulose and crop based ethyl alcohol fuel can be read in several ways. First, it can be seen as an oblique jab at a competitor. General Motors had come to considerable grief that summer of 1925 over another octane boosting fuel called tetra-ethyl lead, and government officials had been quietly in touch with Ford engineers about alternatives to leaded gasoline additives. Secondly, by 1925 the American farms that Ford loved were facing an economic crisis that would later intensify with the depression. Although the causes of the crisis were complex, one possible solution was seen in creating new markets for farm products. With Ford's financial and political backing, the idea of opening up industrial markets for farmers would be translated into a broad movement for scientific research in agriculture that would be labelled "Farm Chemurgy." 2

Why Henry's plans were delayed for more than a half century:

Ethanol has been known as a fuel for many decades. Indeed, when Henry Ford designed the Model T, it was his expectation that ethanol, made from renewable biological materials, would be a major automobile fuel. However, gasoline emerged as the dominant transportation fuel in the early twentieth century because of the ease of operation of gasoline engines with the materials then available for engine construction, a growing supply of cheaper petroleum from oil field discoveries, and intense lobbying by petroleum companies for the federal government to maintain steep alcohol taxes. Many bills proposing a National energy program that made use of Americas vast agricultural resources (for fuel production) were killed by smear campaigns launched by vested petroleum interests. One noteworthy claim put forth by petrol companies was that the U.S. government's plans "robbed taxpayers to make farmers rich".

http://www.hempcar.org/ford.shtml

America was built on this WEED!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hemp - Could Save America
The Weed That Can Change The World
From Varied Sources
2-25-4

HEMP FACTS

1) Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.

2) Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.

3) Hemp Seed is far more nutritious than even soybean, contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is 35% dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug. See TestPledge.com

4) The bark of the hemp stalk contains bast fibers which are among the Earth's longest natural soft fibers and are also rich in cellulose; the cellulose and hemi-cellulose in its inner woody core are called hurds. Hemp stalk is not psychoactive. Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.

5) According to the Department of Energy, hemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures of all hemp products. The hydrocarbons in hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas. Development of biofuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

6) Hemp grows well without herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. Almost half of the agricultural chemicals used on US crops are applied to cotton.

7) Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp's low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and it's creamy color lends itself to environmentally friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical byproducts.

8) Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. It can also be recycled more times.

9) Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard.

10) Eco-friendly hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with hemp for injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil, to name just a very few examples.

Hemp History

Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.

Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic.

In 1937 Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act which effectively began the era of hemp prohibition. The tax and licensing regulations of the act made hemp cultivation unfeasable for American farmers. The chief promoter of the Tax Act, Harry Anslinger, began promoting anti-marijuana legislation around the world. To learn more about hemp prohibition visit http://www.JackHerer.com or check out "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" by Jack Herer

Then came World War II. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor shut off foreign supplies of "manilla hemp" fiber from the Phillipines. The USDA produced a film called Hemp For Victory to encourage US farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. The US government formed War Hemp Industries and subsidized hemp cultivation. During the War and US farmers grew about a million acres of hemp across the midwest as part of that program.

After the war ended, the government quietly shut down all the hemp processing plants and the industry faded away again.

During the period from 1937 to the late 60's the US government understood and acknowledged that Industrial Hemp and marijuana were distinct varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp is no longer recognized as distinct from marijuana since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. This is despite the fact that a specific exemption for hemp was included in the CSA under the definition of marijuana.

The United States government has published numerous reports and other documents on hemp dating back to the beginnings of our country. Below is a list of some of the documents that have been discovered:

* 1797: SECRETARY OF WAR: U.S.S. CONSTITUTION'S HEMP
* 1810: JOHN QUINCY ADAMS - RUSSIAN HEMP CULTIVATION
* 1827: U.S. NAVY COMMISSIONER - WATER-ROTTED HEMP
* 1873: HEMP CULTURE IN JAPAN
* 1895: USDA - HEMP SEED
* 1899: USDA SECRETARY - HEMP
* 1901: USDA LYSTER DEWEY RE; HEMP & FLAX SEED
* 1901: USDA LYSTER DEWEY 13 PAGE ARTICLE ON HEMP
* 1903: USDA LYSTER DEWEY RE; PRINCIPAL COMMERCIAL PLANT FIBERS
* 1909: USDA SECRETARY - FIBER INVESTIGATIONS: HEMP/FLAX
* 1913: USDA LYSTER DEWEY - HEMP SOILS, YIELD, ECONOMICS
* 1913: USDA LYSTER DEWEY - TESTS FOR HEMP, LIST OF PRODUCTS
* 1916: USDA BULLETIN 404 - HEMP HURDS AS A PAPER MAKING MATERIAL
* 1917: USDA - HEMP SEED SUPPLY OF THE NATION
* 1917: USDA - CANNABIS
* 1927: USDA LYSTER DEWEY RE; HEMP VARIETIES
* 1931: USDA LYSTER DEWEY RE; HEMP FIBER LOSING GROUND
* 1943: USDA - HEMP FOR VICTORY - DOCUMENTARY FILM
* 1947: USDA - HEMP DAY LENGTH & FLOWERING
* 1956: USDA - MONOECIOUS HEMP BREEDING IN THE U.S.

These documentes and many more are published online by USA hemp historian extraordinaire, John E. Dvorak. His Digital Hemp History Library is the most complete source for historical hemp documents and data anwhere. To visit the Library click here.

You can also check out literary references to Industrial Hemp from Aesop's Fables to the present: http://www.ofields.com/OFIELDS_HEMP_HISTORY.html

http://www.thehia.org/hempfacts.htm

Comment
From Karma Blank
2-27-4

Thank you so much for this page on the wonders of hemp! When I was in high school and almost everyone I knew started smoking pot, I began reading up on the subject. I wanted to know what this mysterious plant was all about before I tried it. I was amazed by the suppressed history I uncovered. Not only has cannabis been smoked/eaten for millenia for spiritual & recreational purposes, the fiber it produces has been right there all along. This truly is a wonder plant, and I'm glad to see Rense.com spreading the word. People need to know about this plant and the real reason it's illegal.

Comment
From Alton Raines
2-27-4

I really appreciate this consolidated information which we can all take and shove in the face of all these "hannitized" pro-drugwar idiots who live in feigned fear of the dreaded "devil weed." This is an arsenal of powerful information about hemp which can and should be used by every thinking person against the idiots -- print this out, fold it up, keep it with you and when you hear someone bemoaning our economic situation, whip it out and show them that there IS an answer; when someone is prattling on about the dying agriculture economy in America, shove this in their face. It's a matter of EDUCATION. A little here, a little there. People have GOT to overcome the propagandized fear of the hemp plant. It's not the devil's weed, it's a magnificent gift of God, who said to man "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat (use, consumption)." Genesis 1:29. He has given us EVERY herb and seed bearing plant and tree. Not just some. And no government has a right a outlaw any one of them!

HEMP IN NEW ENGLAND

HEMP IN NEW ENGLAND
By John E. Dvorak

As a Hempologist living in the Boston area, I've had an excellent opportunity to learn about the role that hemp played in America's past. Cities and towns up and down the northern seacoast can boast that boats built and maintained with hemp were one of the primary factors influencing America's independence from Britain's tyranny. By sharing this information with you, we may be able to once again determine how humanity can become independent of the current tyrants of petroleum, pollution, and poverty. This article is the culmination of several visits to the Newburyport, Massachusetts (MA) library coupled with numerous hemp fact finding excursions. I would like to thank my wife, Pam, for loaning me her library card, humoring me on our roadtrips, and editing me grammar and typeing. Although we couldn't locate the alleged site of a rope walk on Winter Island in Salem, MA, we will try again in the future.

THE HISTORY OF HEMP IN THE GREATER NEWBURYPORT AREA

For over 200 years, the people of Newburyport, and several surrounding towns, which lie approximately 40 miles north of Boston, grew and processed hemp to supply many of the needs of the sailing ships which were vital to the early transportation, shipping, and defense industries. Before steam power and electricity, hemp was needed to provide people with the raw materials to survive and, to eventually prosper. Early settlers found the going tough as the following quote from Joshua Coffin's book, A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport and West Newbury, attests [emphasis on the word HEMP added by the author]: "All foreign commodities at this time [1641] grew scarce. Corn would buy nothing - and no man could pay his debts, and so forth. These straits set our people on work to provide fish, clapboards, plank, and to sow HEMP and flax (which prospered very well) and to look out to the West Indies for a trade for cotton. The town of Rowley made laudable efforts to raise HEMP and to some extent succeeded." Two years later in 1643, Coffin relates that supplies from England continued to decrease thereby increasing the pioneers' emphasis on self reliance. Hemp was now being processed locally and "Rowley, to their great commendation, exceeded all other towns." In 1676, hemp and butter both sold for sixpence a pound. How much does that equal in 1997 dollars? (Every person that sends me the correct answer wins a free piece of oakum!) Does hemp and butter cost the same amount per pound today?

Currier's book, History of Newburyport, mentions that in 1764 "Cordage factories, employing from twenty-five to fifty hands, produced from two to three hundred tons of white lines and tarred cordage annually." This cordage was made almost exclusively from domestically grown hemp. The rope walk portion of the cordage factories were also used as temporary barracks by revolutionary troops. Economic times were tough after America gained her independence and hemp played a key role in "keeping America free". Coffin summarizes this sentiment with the following statement about life in 1779: "In the preceding year, the general court had passed, from the best of motives, an act to prevent monopoly and oppression, and the towns of Newbury and Newburyport, had, in pursuance of this act, adopted and published a scale of prices, affixed to all the articles they had for sale, and also all kinds of labor. These prices were never to be exceeded. No imported goods, except HEMP and warlike stores, should be sold at more than two hundred and fifty pounds sterling, on one hundred pounds prime cost." This quote verifies that hemp played an integral role in Colonial America's defense and economy. Records indicate that in 1781, there were three rope walks in the greater Newburyport area. By 1840, the number of rope walks in the area had increased to seven. In addition to providing employment for farmers, manufacturers, and businessmen, hemp kept local fire departments busy fighting fires that were only too common in the tar laden rope walks. One significantly catastrophic hemp related event, which occurred on October 19, 1843, was described by Coffin thusly; "This morning, about half past six o'clock, an hour after the workmen had commenced operations, the boiler of a six horse power engine in the patent cordage manufactory of Michael Wormsted & Son, on South and Marlborough streets, exploded. Mr. John Green, the engineer, who was probably standing in front of the furnace, was instantly killed, . . . This was the first steam engine erected in Newbury, and had been in use five or six years." The fact that the town's first steam engine was used to process hemp exemplifies the value that people placed on hemp. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, society's cutting edge technology can once again be applied to hemp. The Internet could be hemp's next "steam engine" as it processes and carries hempformation to all corners of the globe.

HEMP TOUR, YANKEE STYLE

Well, if sitting in a library on weekends searching the index of books for the words: hemp, rope, cordage, oakum, line, rigging, sails, and etc., doesn't tickle your fancy, you could always take your own New England hemp tour. Below, I'll touch on a few of the hempstoric places to go in MA and Connecticut.

As most devotees of Jack Herer's landmark book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, know, thousands of pounds of hemp line was used as rigging on the U.S.S. Constitution. Visitors to Boston can still clamber aboard the world's oldest commissioned warship to get an idea of what sea going life was like in the 1800's. A nearby museum contains some of "Old Ironsides'" original hempen artifacts. While there, be sure to ask why hemp is not being used during the restoration of this historic ship in preparation for the celebration of her 200th birthday. Where's the hemp!?!

Traveling north from Boston on scenic Route 1A will bring you to the town of Essex and the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. Here, one can learn how the great sailing ships of yore were constructed. In addition to pictures of rope walks, the Essex Shipbuilding Museum has a hands-on oakum exhibit. Oakum, which is defined as "loosely twisted hemp or jute fiber impregnated with tar or a tar derivative and used in caulking seams (as of wooden ships)", is hammered in between the planks that make up the hulls and deck of some wooden ships. The museum's curator related the following anecdote about oakum to me. Apparently, during long ocean-going journeys, if a crew member did something that deserved punishment, he would be sent to the brig to "pick oakum". This involved the laborious task of taking worn out, tarry line (rope) and pulling the fibers apart so that they could be used as oakum. The euphemism "pickin' oakum" was therefore associated with someone who was in trouble. i.e., Where's JD? Ahhhh, he's pickin' oakum again. Oh, he should have learned better by now.

A few miles north of Essex is Newburyport, where the former site of one of the area's first rope walks has been turned into a park. Bartlett Mall, which is now the site of summer festivals and concerts, contains a plaque commemorating the rope walk's legacy. A rope walk's length represents the maximum length that a piece of cordage made there could be. The advent of steam power brought advances that eliminated the need for these peninsular appendages. Keep this in mind as you stroll through this part of America's history.

During the 1995 Eco Expo in Boston, MA, I had the pleasure of meeting the venerable Don Wirtshafter and his family. During one of our conversations about hemp, he mentioned that a portion of an actual rope walk had been moved to the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. This tip resulted in a roadtrip to a place where we found numerous examples of how hemp was used by early Americans. Oakum is used to caulk the museum's restored sailing ships. The shipyard's Office Manager, Ted Kay, is Mystic's resident hempologist. Ted's knowledge of hemp's role in the sailing industry is impressive. The Mystic Seaport Museum's most notable exhibit associated with hemp, however, is the aforementioned rope walk which was moved from the Plymouth Cordage Company in MA. Here, visitors can walk through the long, narrow building and see how tiny strands of hemp fiber were fashioned into heavy duty cordage.

Plymouth, MA, where the Mayflower made her historic landing, is approximately 40 miles south of Boston. After visiting "The Rock", drop by the original site of The Plymouth Cordage Company. Cordage Mall, as it is now called, contains many shops and restaurants as well as several displays detailing the history of the company that made rope out of cannabis hemp for over 100 of its 150 years of existence. On a final research related topic, the book, "The Ropemakers of Plymouth. A History of the Plymouth Cordage Company", written by Samuel Eliot Morison in 1950, is a must read for any Hempologist. It covers the history of the North American sailing industry, the price of hemp fiber and cordage throughout the 1800's, the type of hemp rigging used on the sailing ships of that era, and an explanation of why hemp fell out of favor in the early 1900's. So, even if you can't visit the above mentioned places, you can still sail through time on hemp's historic wind.

Hemp History, Hemp Future

I hope that this article has increased your understanding and awareness of the role that hemp played in this country's history. From the earliest settlers scratching out a meager existence to the great sailing ships which dominated the seas, the integral nature of cannabis hemp overshadows all other resources. After a 100 year reprise, hemp is poised to regain its place as this planet's most utilitarian plant. It is everyone's responsibility to do as much as they can to help hemp complete its comeback.

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