By Salam Diri & Estefania Valencia from SannaOhana Yoga & Wellness
This July Fourth America Celebrates its Independence Day! (technically another 4/20 if you look at the calendar date). What better way to honor this country than by celebrating the primary crop that led to its success - Cannabis. As we uncover the hidden history of Cannabis we realize more and more how it led to the foundation of this country.
So does that mean that lighting one up on the 4th of July is patriotic? YES!
Even before America’s independence, the Cannabis plant was heavily relied on and utilized as industrial hemp. Let’s take a look at how Cannabis has contributed to the development of our country and how it can help us today, and in our future. In the 1600s Jamestown the first English settlement in America cultivated hemp to produce rope and fabric for ships and clothing. This became the norm for many new settlements that followed. Eventually, some colonies required their farmers to grow hemp and they allowed their farmers to use it as legal tender. The founding fathers also advocated for the versatility of the hemp crop and owned farms themselves. President George Washington for example owned 5 hemp farms and Benjamin Franklin owned the first hemp paper mill, which later, created the paper where the first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written! In fact, the first ever sewn American flag was also made of hemp!
How’s that for Canna-Patriotism?
Learning from our hidden Cannabis-American history can help us understand the true value of the Cannabis plant and can ultimately shape the future of our country and entire planet. Hemp paper for example, could reverse the deforestation and carbon emissions caused by the paper mill industry use of tree pulp. Imagine no toilet paper shortages! In fact, most likely, a surplus of sustainable hemp toilet paper! In 1916 the USDA even published an article showing how hemp grows 4X more than trees per acre.
Medicinally from 1850 to 1937, cannabis was used as the main medicine for more than 100 separate diseases in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia. During all this time, science, doctors, and drug manufacturers had no idea of its active components (cannabinoids). Yet from 1842 until the 1980s, Cannabis Indica was one of the three items after alcohol and opium, most prescribed - in particular, to American infants, children, youth, adults, women in childbirth, senior citizens and animals. In other words, everyone!
Cannabis has proved over and over again to be one of the most versatile crops on earth. Not only can we help our environment with sustainable paper and medicine, but we can also make hundreds of different kinds of durable and environmentally friendly materials such as hempcrete, hemp plastic, hemp biofuel, hemp batteries and hemp clothing. In 1942 Henry Ford built a car made out of hemp that is 10x stronger than steel. That same year a film set up by the USDA called Hemp for Victory encouraged farmers to cultivate Hemp to support World War II and in exchange the farmers would not get drafted into the war.
Nowadays, the world’s perception toward Cannabis is slowly shifting to a positive one. Primarily, for the people who have experienced the plant’s medicinal benefits first hand. Veterans are at the forefront of our Cannabis Renaissance, as they benefit greatly from the use of Cannabis to treat PTSD, depression, anxiety, pain and have contributed greatly to destigmatize the plant. Veterans should definitely be celebrated this Independence Day!
At a time when social and racial justice issues are quite literally screaming for help, Cannabis has the potential to create a bright future for our communities, this planet and the universe.
The American people have suffered greatly from the impacts of Cannabis prohibition. The criminalization of this medicinal plant has not only devastated our environment, but also, our communities predominantly composed of black, hispanic, immigrant and low income families. The war on drugs targeted these communities in order to create an institutionalized racist prison system that still generates millions in prison labor until this day. This is the ugly truth of our hidden Cannabis-American history, but we must acknowledge it, understand it and learn from it in order to move forward and do better. Cannabis has always been tainted for the oppression and exploitation of some of our fellow humans - through slavery, the war on drugs and by the pharmaceutical industry denying access to an incredible medicinal and sustainable plant.
It’s time to take back the plant and heal our country and our world!
We stand in a world that feels like it needs to be rebuilt from scratch. Social equity in Cannabis is an opportunity to repair and restore communities and families negatively affected by the war on drugs - medicinally, economically, environmentally and personally - mind, body and spirit.
So on July 4th, when you are at a holiday gathering, let’s share some Cannabis facts so that one day we can celebrate the freedom to grow, smoke, eat and build with this plant! Hemp can change the world to a more natural and sustainable, more peaceful, more loving and compassionate place.
Happy July 4/20 !!!