Cannabis is as American as apple pie and baseball.
No matter what people think or say about marijuana, it’s hard to deny that the herb has helped shape American culture and history. Don’t believe it? This Fourth of July holiday weekend, we give you 7 reasons marijuana is patriotic af . Happy Hemp Day!
1. Farmers Required To Grow Hemp
Back before independence, this country relied heavily on cannabis — not the psychoactive drug we smoke today, but industrial hemp.
Regional governments encouraged farmers to grow hemp in the 17th century for the production of rope, sails, clothing and other textile products.
Related Story: Here Are The Top 10 Holidays For Marijuana Lovers
In 1619, the Virginia Assembly passed legislation requiring every farmer in the state to grow hemp.
If citizens did not have paper money, hemp was accepted as legal tender in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.
2. The Founding Fathers Grew Hemp
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. Washington grew hemp on his plantation in Mount Vernon, Va., and Jefferson on his estate in Monticello, Va. Both Washington and Jefferson wrote often about the glories of the crop. Washington’s diaries indicate that hemp was cultivated at all his 5 farms.
NOTE: There is no historical evidence to suggest that either founding father smoked the herb. There are plenty of Internet quotes and myths out there, but the fact remains that the hemp grown at the time was not used for intoxicating purposes.
3. The Declaration Of Independence And Hemp
No, the actual document declaring our independence from Great Britain was NOT printed on hemp paper. The historical document was printed on parchment made of animal skin, which was the common at the time.
However, the first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper. The first draft was written on Dutch hemp paper on June 28, 1776. The second draft was written on hemp paper on July 2, 1776.
4. Betsy Ross, The American Flag And Hemp
The first American flag made by Betsy Ross was made from industrial hemp, according to some experts. Of course, there is still a lively debate on whether Ross even made the original flag.
“Many of the very first American flags were made from hemp cloths. So there’s a real tie in to our country’s history and the important rule industrial hemp played in agriculture in our country,” said Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.
In 2013, hemp flag was flown over the Capitol for the first time in more than 80 years on July 4. Former DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart, an ardent anti-marijuana drug warrior, said the lowest point in her 33-year career at the agency was when she learned they’d flown a hemp flag over the Capitol on July 4.
5. Hemp For Victory!
In 1942, the U.S. Department of Agriculture produced an informational film called “Hemp for Victory.” The movie, which was seen by most farmers during the height of World War II, extolled the virtues of the industrial hemp crop, detailed its history, showcased its myriad of uses and provided tips and methods for growing it.
The government needed more hemp because of a import shortage. America needed hemp to help the war effort because it was used in ship’s rigging.
In the film, the federal government announced a goal to increase the acreage of the crop from 32,ooo to 50,000 in 1943. Patriotic American farmers responded by growing 375,000 acres of industrial hemp. Farmers who committed to grow industrial hemp received a draft deferment.
6. Hemp Saved A President’s Life
In Jack Herer’s seminal book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” he writes: When the young pilot George Bush bailed out of his burning airplane after a battle over the Pacific, little did he know:
- Parts of his aircraft engine were lubricated with cannabis hemp seed oil;
- 100% of his life-saving parachute webbing was made from U.S. grown cannabis hemp;
- Virtually all the rigging and ropes of the ship that pulled him in were made of cannabis hemp;
- The fire hoses on the ship (as were those in the schools he had attended) were woven from cannabis hemp; and,
- Finally, as young George Bush stood safely on the deck, his shoes’ durable stitching was of cannabis hemp, as it is in all good leather and military shoes to this day.
7. Hemp Saves The Lives Of Those Who Served Our Great Nation
As we send our young men and women overseas to fight for our national interests, more and more of them are suffering not from bullets, but from post-traumatic stress disorder. An estimated 8,000 veteran commit suicide a year — 22 a day.
The American Legion, America’s largest veterans organization, is fighting to get medical marijuana approved for use by the Veterans Administration. “There is overwhelming evidence that it has been beneficial for some vets. The difference is that it is not founded in federal research because it has been illegal,” said Louis Celli, the Legion’s national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation.
Related Story: Veterans Need Access To Medical Marijuana
A recent study suggests that access to cannabis was associated with an 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of males aged 20 to 29 and a 10 percent reduction in the suicide rate of men aged 30 to 39. Another study shows deaths from opiate overdoses decreased 25 percent in those states with legally accessible cannabis.