− The Writings of George Washington, Volume 33, page 270 (Library of Congress)
Unenlightened people who don’t get out enough and probably still live with their parents, such as the US Drug Enforcement Agency, consider hemp to be synonymous with cannabis. More properly, it’s cannabis for industrial uses, e.g. the making of rope, paper or cloth. Consequently, it doesn’t get you very stoned. Boo! While tobacco wears out soil after seven years, hemp makes no heavy demands of fertilizing, watering or plowing. It doesn’t have to be replanted year upon year. George Washington, whose portrait decorates the US one dollar bill, grew hemp.
The law first forced itself upon cannabis in North America in 1619. People were ordered to grow it in Jamestown Colony, Virginia. Further mandatory hemp cultivation laws followed in Massachusetts (1631), Connecticut (1632) and the Chesapeake Colonies (mid-1700s).
In England, the Crown gave citizenship to foreigners prepared to grow cannabis. Fines were inflicted upon those who wouldn’t. In America, you could be jailed for not growing it in times of shortage, e.g. Virginia, 1763-67. Hemp was legal tender in most of the Americas from 1631 to the early 1800s.
Benjamin Franklin initiated one of America’s first paper mills, using hemp to make paper, avoiding the need to grovel to Britain for paper. The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper. The US Department of Agriculture says that an area of hemp produces more paper than four times that area of trees. While trees have to grow for 20-50 years before being harvested commercially, hemp is ready in four months. Think of the forests and other wildlife habitats that could be saved. Then there’s the elimination of topsoil erosion caused by logging, reducing the pollution of water.
Hemp fiber is ten times stronger than cotton. Cotton grows only in warm climates when drenched with massive amounts of water, while hemp grows in all 50 US states and requires little water. Hemp produces twice as much fiber as cotton. Having few insect enemies, it requires no herbicides and few or no pesticides. From before 1,000BCE to 1883CE, hemp was the most prevalent agricultural crop in the world.
Washington’s diary entry for May 12-13 1765 reads: “Sowed Hemp at Muddy hole by Swamp”. Washington was a top-flight agronomist, and his subsequent diary entries chronicle the growing process in excruciatingly meticulous detail. He is thought to have grown hemp for thirty years.
It’s beyond doubt that Georgie grew dope in his back garden. His diary entry for August 7, 1765 is: “began to separate (sic) the Male from the Female Hemp at Do – rather too late”. It could be argued that Washington sought to improve the plants’ fiber, but we shoot that one down by pointing out that “rather too late” indicates that he wanted the process completed before fertilization, and you do this to get a better high.
We know Washington was a stoner because of this male/female separation, an undertaking called sinsemilla, Spanish for “without seeds”. The only reason for so doing is to get a better smoke. It makes the best marijuana because the source plant never stopped producing resin until it was harvested. This explains the gap between industrial hemp and wonderful, stone-inducing, inner harmony balancing weed.
The female plant contains more tetrahydrocannabinol, THC to its friends, producing mental effects upon consumption. Cannabis comes in the form of dried leaves (marijuana, or “grass”), resin (hashish, or “hash”) or oil. Growing or possessing cannabis for WHOLESOME RECREATIONAL PURPOSES is illegal in most nations. Should you regard cannabis as a “gateway drug”, leading inevitably to the usage of harder drugs, consider that the age of the average heroin user in the Netherlands was once determined as 40 and rising, but in Britain it was 25 and falling. Cannabis is much more freely available in the former.
Washington may have favored cannabis because he suffered from chronic toothache. He would have smoked it to get stoned, just like 70% of the US population. Today, the Father of the Nation would be considered a threat to the nation, deserving a fine, even imprisonment, and much finger-wagging. Since he grew such a vast amount, the police would decide that it was more than enough to satisfy one person, and he’d have been labeled a drug baron. Sonny Crockett would have burst into his residence waving a gun, and arrested him, ideally with Crockett’s Theme playing in the background.
16,000 people die every year in the United States from vehicular accidents caused by alcohol. Another 85,000 die from direct alcohol use, a further 435,000 from tobacco use. Nobody has ever died from cannabis, and in fact the medicinal properties of marijuana have been recognized for millennia. But it’s cannabis that’s illegal.