Monday, May 17, 2010
Between now and the end of May, we'll be celebrating our history with hemp farming at local events across the country in a show of support for American farmers who want the right to grow industrial hemp again. Check out our events page to find locations near you and our get involved page to become an event host or volunteer.
Hemp History Week (May 17-23, 2010) will also feature educational events around the U.S. exposing our rich American history of hemp farming and hemp products. We will also share a selection of modern hemp products and ask supporters to sign and send postcards urging President Obama and Attorney General Holder to change our federal policy to allow American farmers to once again grow industrial hemp.
Find An Event Near You
We're helping to host nearly 200 events nationwide, and you're invited! The events need organizers, volunteers and participants. Attending an event provides a great opportunity to celebrate all the wonderful uses of hemp, while showing your support, learning about your local hemp history and sampling modern hemp foods and body care products.
Select your state below to find an event near you and then invite your friends. The event description, event location, event time and date are listed. If you need the name and email address or phone number of an event contact and/or organizer please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jamie Trowbridge at 202-232-8997.
MEXICO CITY (AP) After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.
Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn't worked.
"In the grand scheme, it has not been successful," Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. "Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified."
This week President Obama promised to "reduce drug use and the great damage it causes" with a new national policy that he said treats drug use more as a public health issue and focuses on prevention and treatment.
Nevertheless, his administration has increased spending on interdiction and law enforcement to record levels both in dollars and in percentage terms; this year, they account for $10 billion of his $15.5 billion drug-control budget.
Kerlikowske, who coordinates all federal anti-drug policies, says it will take time for the spending to match the rhetoric.
"Nothing happens overnight," he said. "We've never worked the drug problem holistically. We'll arrest the drug dealer, but we leave the addiction."
His predecessor, John P. Walters, takes issue with that.
Walters insists society would be far worse today if there had been no War on Drugs. Drug abuse peaked nationally in 1979 and, despite fluctuations, remains below those levels, he says. Judging the drug war is complicated: Records indicate marijuana and prescription drug abuse are climbing, while cocaine use is way down. Seizures are up, but so is availability.
"To say that all the things that have been done in the war on drugs haven't made any difference is ridiculous," Walters said. "It destroys everything we've done. It's saying all the people involved in law enforcement, treatment and prevention have been wasting their time. It's saying all these people's work is misguided."
In 1970, hippies were smoking pot and dropping acid. Soldiers were coming home from Vietnam hooked on heroin. Embattled President Richard M. Nixon seized on a new war he thought he could win.
"This nation faces a major crisis in terms of the increasing use of drugs, particularly among our young people," Nixon said as he signed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. The following year, he said: "Public enemy No. 1 in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive."
His first drug-fighting budget was $100 million. Now it's $15.1 billion, 31 times Nixon's amount even when adjusted for inflation.
Using Freedom of Information Act requests, archival records, federal budgets and dozens of interviews with leaders and analysts, the AP tracked where that money went, and found that the United States repeatedly increased budgets for programs that did little to stop the flow of drugs. In 40 years, taxpayers spent more than:
$20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico and the violence along with it.
$33 billion in marketing "Just Say No"-style messages to America's youth and other prevention programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have "risen steadily" since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.
$49 billion for law enforcement along America's borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.
$121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.
$450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.
At the same time, drug abuse is costing the nation in other ways. The Justice Department estimates the consequences of drug abuse "an overburdened justice system, a strained health care system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction" cost the United States $215 billion a year.
Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron says the only sure thing taxpayers get for more spending on police and soldiers is more homicides.
"Current policy is not having an effect of reducing drug use," Miron said, "but it's costing the public a fortune."
The gangly plant -- once a favorite of military ropemakers -- couldn't catch a break. Even as legalized medical marijuana has become more and more commonplace, the industrial hemp plant -- with its minuscule levels of the chemical that gives marijuana its kick -- has remained illegal to cultivate in the United States.
Enter the lost hemp diaries.
Found recently at a garage sale outside Buffalo but never publicly released, these journals chronicle the life of Lyster H. Dewey, a botanist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture whose long career straddled the 19th and 20th centuries. Dewey writes painstakingly about growing exotically named varieties of hemp -- Keijo, Chinamington and others -- on a tract of government land known as Arlington Farms. In effect, he was tending Uncle Sam's hemp farm.
What's gotten hemp advocates excited about the discovery is the location of that farm. A large chunk of acreage was handed over to the War Department in the 1940s for construction of the world's largest office building: the Pentagon. So now, hempsters can claim that an important piece of their legacy lies in the rich Northern Virginia soil alongside a hugely significant symbol of the government that has so enraged and befuddled them over the years.
All thanks to Lyster Dewey.
A small trade group, the Hemp Industries Association, bought Dewey's diaries. The group's leaders hope that displaying them for the first time on Monday -- the start of what they've decreed the "1st Annual Hemp History Week" -- will convince the universe that hemp is not a demon weed and was used for ropes on Navy ships and for World War II parachute webbing. The ultimate goal is to spur the government to lift the ban on hemp production, a policy that especially riles activists because foreign-produced hemp oils and food products can be legally imported.
Less Health Care is Better, Not More
by Jeffrey Dach MD
A shocking "medical heresy" was quietly stated in a mainstream medical journal last week.(1) Less health care is better than more health care. Dr. Deborah Grady's editorial in the May 10 Annals of Internal Medicine throws a giant egg on the face of mainstream medicine. It is generally assumed and expected that health care offers some benefit to our health. Yet, Dr Grady points out that when health outcomes are actually studied, the data shows that more health care leads to worse outcomes. (2,3) This revelation isn't new, and is actually old news, like a worn and familiar shoe. The real news story is that this kind of "medical heresy" somehow eluded censorship by the editorial board and appeared in print in a mainstream medical journal. Are mainstream doctors getting fed up? Is this the opening salvo of a medical revolution?
Examples of Harmful Medical Care
Dr Grady cites specific examples of treatments that result in harm, with adverse effects outweighing the benefits. The first example is synthetic "monster" hormone therapy used by the mainstream medical system, which was found to cause cancer and heart disease in the famous 2002 Women's Health Initiative study. (4) It seems incredible, but true. The mainstream medical system used Synthetic "monster" hormones for years until the WHI (Women's Health Initiative) study finally convinced millions of women to switch to safer and more effective bioidentical human hormones. My previous articles on the safety and importance of bioidentical hormones discusses this at length. (5)(6)
Dr. Grady's second example is the discredited practice of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis. Millions of these useless procedures were performed in the late 90's until it was abandoned after randomized trials showed no benefit.(7) My previous article on the power of the placebo discussed this.(8)
A third example is the case of SSRI antidepressant drugs which have little benefit for patients with mild to moderate depression. The benefits of SSRI drugs are equivalent to placebo pills.(9) Dr. Grady points out that in cases of mild depression, the known adverse effects of SSRI antidepressants clearly outweigh the benefits. My previous article on SSRI antidepressants discussed this.(10)
A Fourth example is screening mammography. "The adverse effects of mammographyfalse-positive findings, biopsies, anxiety, and overdiagnosis and treatment of latent cancers may overwhelm the benefit." (11) My previous article on screening mammography discussed this.(12)
Dr Grady's final example is the over-use and misuse of antacid drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPI's), which have serious adverse effects of increased rates of fractures, Clostridium difficile infection, and increased risk of pneumonia. (13-18) I discussed the harms and benefits of acid blocker drugs in a previous article . (19)
Reducing Medical Care Opposed as "Rationing"
Dr Grady reminds us that the term "rationing" is frequently misused and abused in health care debates. In politics, those who want more health care oppose those who propose less health care. Less health care is called "rationing", a term originating in the wartime practice of rationing food, fuel and other scarce goods, and services, and may not apply to over use of health services which causes harm rather than benefit.
It's certainly not the worst crime committed in the name of the war on drugs.
That title probably belongs to the countless innocent people killed in botched raids. Or the police officers who died in pursuit of the impossible. Or the lives lost to easily preventable overdoses and blood-borne diseases. Or the funding handed to thugs, terrorists and guerrillas. Or the civil liberties eroded, the corruption fostered, the chaos spread. Or maybe it belongs to the hundreds of billions of dollars governments have squandered in a mad, futile and destructive crusade.
Next to all that, the extradition of Marc Emery to the United States is no great travesty.
Emery is the Vancouver activist who has long campaigned for the legalization of marijuana. To fund his efforts, he ran a little seed company similar to thousands of other little seed companies, except when Emery's seeds were put in soil, watered and given sunlight, they grew into cannabis plants.
Showing rare good sense, Canadian officials decided that prosecuting a man for selling the seeds of a common plant is not a public priority. In effect, they permitted Emery's business, and others like it, to operate. Health Canada officials were even known to direct those licensed to possess medical marijuana to Emery.
But such pragmatism smacks of heresy to the holy warriors of prohibition. In 2005, Emery was arrested by Canadian police acting at the behest of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Innocent Americans had been lured into purchasing Emery's wicked wares, the DEA alleged.
Emery fought extradition for five years. On Monday, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson ordered him handed over. Thanks to the insanely punitive sentencing laws in the Land of the Incarcerated, Emery faced as much as 20 years. He accepted a plea bargain for five.
Emery argued that he was a political target, that the DEA was out to get him in order to silence a prominent advocate of marijuana legalization. One might suspect delusions of grandeur, except the DEA issued a press release in which the agency's chief says pretty much exactly what Emery alleges: "Today's DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group, is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement."
But let's not get distracted by the mendacity of the DEA or the embarrassing servility of a Canadian government willing to go along with this farce. Let's stand back and ask the only question worth asking.
What the hell is the point of all this?
WASHINGTON - The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) and Vote Hemp say the 1st Annual Hemp History Week will be held May 17-23, 2010. As a national grassroots education campaign designed to renew strong support for hemp farming in the U.S., Hemp History Week will feature a letter-writing campaign and events in cities and towns all over the country.
Organizers expect the campaign to collect at least 50,000 hand-signed postcards addressed to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder asking them to end the ban on hemp farming and let farmers grow the versatile and profitable crop.
"Hemp was an important crop for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and thousands of American farmers until it was outlawed completely in 1970 by the Controlled Substances Act. I know many farmers in my district could benefit greatly from the renewed freedom to rotate industrial hemp into their growing seasons. Hemp History Week will help other elected officials learn about America's rich hemp heritage along with the tremendous benefits of growing hemp in America once again," explains Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.
Hemp History Week volunteers are being asked to visit libraries and historical societies to find old newspaper articles and other documents about local hemp farming and manufacturing before the crop was banned. The newly discovered research will be presented at scheduled public events in May. Details about planned events will be announced in early April.
In addition to volunteer-run events nationwide, natural product retail outlets are participating in Hemp History Week by sampling best-selling hemp products in their stores including: Nature's Path's Hemp Plus(TM) Granola Cereal, Sunny Hemp(TM) Granola Bars and Hemp Plus(TM) Waffles; Living Harvest Foods Tempt(TM) hemp milk and frozen desserts; Nutiva's organic shelled hemp seed and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.
"Lost opportunities for farmers and businesses have real consequences," says David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps which uses hemp oil in almost all of their products. "With over $360 million in estimated U.S. retail sales, American companies making hemp products have no choice but to import their raw materials because our farmers continue to fear they will be prosecuted for growing hemp, due to an out of date federal policy which confuses non-drug industrial hemp with drug varieties of Cannabis," adds Bronner.
Sustainable hemp seed, fiber and oil are already used in nutritious food, textiles, body care and even auto-parts. Companies like Ford Motors, Patagonia, and The Body Shop, in addition to Hemp Industries Association members are using imported hemp in their products today.
"Supporting the hemp industry is something that is very close to our hearts at Nature's Path," said Arjan Stephens, Vice President of Marketing and Product Innovation for Nature's Path Organic Foods. My father and founder of Nature's Path, Arran Stephens, successfully fought in the three-year battle with the United States DEA to overturn its ban on the sale of healthy hemp foods and I'm proud to follow in his footsteps by supporting Hemp History Week."
For the last four growing seasons, farmers in North Dakota have received licenses from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp. Despite the state's authorization to grow hemp, these farmers risk raids by federal agents if they try to grow the crop due to the failure of the Drug Enforcement Administration to distinguish non-drug industrial hemp from drug types of Cannabis.
"Despite the ban, consumers still want nutritious hemp foods--and we do not want to deny the goodness of hemp to anyone," explains Hans Fastre, CEO of Living Harvest Foods, the global leader in hemp food products, including Tempt(TM) hemp milk, frozen dessert and protein powder. "By allowing U.S. farmers to sell hemp seed, we'll be better able to manage costs, including the cost of product at retail. Moreover, we'll be able to better promote sustainable agriculture in the U.S., support local farming and fuel the economy."
Due to its many benefits - a reusable resource in every aspect and offering a long list of health and nutritional benefits, hemp is one of the fastest growing industries in natural foods. Hemp is a rich source of Omega-3 & 6 essential fatty acids with Super Omega Stearidonic Acid (SDA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), digestible protein, naturally occurring vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E and iron, while being a good source of dietary fiber. It is second only to soybeans in complete protein containing all 10 essential amino acids, with no enzyme inhibitors, making it more digestible by humans. Hemp seeds are also gluten-free.
"Compare hemp seed to soy or flax seed - and it wins hands down in both taste and nutrition," says John W. Roulac, founder and CEO of Nutiva. "With the First Lady's recent campaign to improve the typical American diet, hemp foods are well positioned to be embraced by Americans seeking both a healthier diet and a more sustainable world."
A new research effort has a provocative outcome as University of California-Berkeley researchers suggest substituting cannabis for treatment of heavy alcohol abuse.
Research published in BioMed Central's open access Harm Reduction Journal features a poll of 350 cannabis users, finding that 40 percent used cannabis to control their alcohol cravings, 66 percent as a replacement for prescription drugs and 26 percent for other, more potent illegal drugs.
Amanda Reiman carried out the study at the UC-Berkeley Patient's Group, a medical cannabis dispensary.
She said, "Substituting cannabis for alcohol has been described as a radical alcohol treatment protocol. This approach could be used to address heavy alcohol use in the British Isles people might substitute cannabis, a potentially safer drug than alcohol with less negative side effects, if it were socially acceptable and available."
Reiman found that 65 percent of people reported using cannabis as a substitute because it has fewer adverse side effects than alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, 34 percent because it has less withdrawal potential and 57.4 percent because cannabis provides better symptom management.
Reiman believes this discovery brings up two important points.
"First, self-determination, the right of an individual to decide which treatment or substance is most effective and least harmful for them. Secondly, the recognition that substitution might be a viable alternative to abstinence for those who can't or won't completely stop using psychoactive substances."
by: Mickey Z.
Eighty-one tons of mercury is emitted into the atmosphere each year as a result of electric power generation. Every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.
Here it comes ...
Every second, 10,000 gallons of gasoline are burned in the US. Each year, Americans use 2.2 billion pounds of pesticides.
Wait for it ...
Every two seconds, a human being starves to death. Every 46 seconds, a woman is raped in America. Every day, 29,158 children under the age of five die from preventable causes - every single day.
We're almost there ...
Ninety percent of the large fish in the ocean and 80 percent of the world's forests are gone. Each day, 200,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed, over 100 plant and animal species go extinct, and 13 million tons of toxic chemicals released across the globe.
What an amazing time to be an activist ...
No, I'm not being cynical. I'm simply listening to the sound of opportunity knocking ... kicking down the damn door, you might say.
When else in all of human history has there been a time when we were in better position to shape the future? Ecosystems are screaming for mercy and our land base is practically an endangered species. What we do (or don't do) in the next few years could quite possibly tilt us all toward either the point of no return or a far more sane form of society. In other words, each and every one of us can take part - right now - in creating the most important social changes ever imagined. Here's how:
1. How to Be a Good Organizer
a) Spend some time thinking about trees.
b) Imagine what clear cutting looks like, sounds like and feels like.
c) Remind yourself that 80 percent of the world's forests are gone.
d) Be a good organizer.
2. How to Find Like-Minded Comrades Ready to Start Right Now
a) Go to the beach.
b) Smell the salty air and listen to the waves.
c) Remind yourself that 90 percent of the large fish in the ocean are gone.
d) Find like-minded comrades ready to start right now.
3. How to Plan a Protest That Does More Than March
a) Remind yourself that 200,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed each day. Picture a planet devoid of rainforests. Picture a human body without lungs.
b) Remind yourself that a woman is raped every 46 seconds in America. Visualize the terror and trauma of these experiences.
c) Remind yourself that 29,158 children under the age of five die from preventable causes each day. Imagine the feelings of grief, sorrow and loss.
d) Plan a protest that does more than march.
4. How to Give a Rousing Speech That Results in Immediate Direct Action
a) Find a quiet place.
b) Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
c) Think about animals in slaughterhouses and laboratories. Think about humans in prisons. Think about civilians in a war zone. Think about someone you love dying of cancer caused by corporate-created toxins.
d) Give a rousing speech that results in immediate direct action.
5. How to Bring Down the Dominant Culture
a) Ask yourself if you're content with your relatively high quality of life being possible thanks to the poor quality of life of so many others elsewhere.
b) Ask yourself if you're content with your relative freedom being possible thanks to the oppression of so many others elsewhere.
c) Accept that we are all accomplices to the perpetual global crime called "civilization."
d) Bring down the dominant culture.