Ned Goldreyer blogs for just-launched 236.com, where this post originally appeared.
The state of Nebraska wants to grow pot, or so congress would have us believe. What they really want to raise is industrial hemp, a plant that shares many, but not all, of its botanical features with marijuana. One of the things hemp does not have is, you guessed it, large amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The stuff that makes it's giggly sister Cannibus Indica such fun. What hemp does have is more uses than a Swiss army knife taped to a box of baking soda. So many products can be made from hemp it could stock its own department store, if only it was an enterprising human being instead of a fairly unambitious angiosperm. We won't bore you with what those products are. You undoubtedly have a permanently stoned friend who can list them for you, even though he can't recall his phone number or the kind of car he drives.
Like your stoned friend, the DEA thinks hemp and pot are the same. Unlike him, however, the feds are not sitting listlessly on a fetid plaid couch eating empty taco shells and screaming with laughter at the Boobahs. They are working hard to prevent the farmers of Nebraska, or any other state in the union, from growing a crop that could, among many, many other things, be used to make low-cost paper. They have been doing this since 1937, when congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. It was then that hemp was classed together with marijuana, all thanks to William Randolph Hearst. Hearst had a large financial interest in the timber industry. He rightly saw hemp as a cheap and fast-growing alternative to his expensive trees, and so he published articles in his newspapers equating hemp with marijuana. These articles became part of the testimony that led to the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act. Hearst is long gone, but guess what industry subsequently picked up his banner, realizing that hemp could also be used to produce synthetic fibers, fuel oil, and plastics? Yes, our good friends at Big Oil have joined forces with the DEA to make sure hemp is never seen as anything but the sneered at pipe dream of future drug lords trying to pass as legitimate American farmers.
Let's put the energy concerns aside for now. After all, they're legitimately protecting themselves from a real threat. Unlike coal, natural gas or petroleum, hemp is a cheap, minimally polluting and renewable energy resource. If it catches on, fossil fuels are headed the way of analog music and network television. But what about the DEA's stake? Why shouldn't hemp be treated like a drug? Because it isn't one. Hemp has about one one-hundredth the THC of marijuana. Calling it a drug is like calling an apple with a dead worm in it "meat," but you can bet your original 16mm copy of "Reefer Madness" that wormy-apple burgers are in regular rotation on the DEA commissary menu. Now, the DEA employees need to keep their jobs like anybody else, but still, doesn't hemp deserve a chance here as much as it does in, say, Canada? In 2006, hemp was that nation's most profitable crop. Take that everyone who thought their greatest contribution to the world was The Red Green Show.
So, in order to keep the DEA busy while giving burgeoning hemp farmers a break, I've compiled a list of other common products that contain traces of controlled substances. Shoving through legislation to criminalize the things on this list should distract the drug cops from busting hemp growers, at least until the first harvest can be brought in.
Sugarless gum contains alcohol, under the commercial names Sorbitol, Xylitol, Maltitol, Mannitol. Amount you'd need to chew before becoming legally drunk: 580 pounds over six hours.
Household smoke detectors contain americurium, a radioactive material that could be used to make either a dirty bomb or even a nuclear weapon. Number of smoke detectors you'd need for an effective dirty bomb: 54,000. Number you'd need achieve critical mass for a real nuke: 21,890,000.
Nutmeg contains an ecstasy like hallucinogen called myristicin. Actually, they could have a case with this one. You only need to eat four teaspoons imparts a mild euphoria, and over five teaspoons can produce a full-on psychotic reaction. Enjoy!
Poppy seeds: opium. Whoops! Here's another one that really works. Brewing a tea from about 300 grams of seeds will give you a pleasant morphine induced state of calm.
Money: most bills have trace amounts of cocaine. Approximately four out five bills carry from a billionth to a thousandth of a gram of blow. Assuming the majority are on the low end of that figure, you'd have to rub your nostrils across close to half a billion dollars (assuming they're all ones) before you felt anything besides idiotic.
You: your brain synthesizes thousands of compounds of which all recreational drugs are merely pale approximations. Saw open the skull and then peel back the protective meniscus to access a veritable buffet of mood altering substances. A hacksaw and a grapefruit spoon are all you'll need to take the ultimate psychedelic safari.
(A clarificatorial note: To those who suspect this is just one more screed from a dope fiend trying to justify his habit, ha ha and phooey on you. I do not smoke pot...anymore. I wish I still could, but it makes me paranoid. The last time I partook was in the previous century, when a brownie at a party nearly sent me into a psychotic episode. Convinced that everyone there could tell I was changing shape and my clothes were evaporating, I ran out of the building. On my way home in the cab I became aware that the meter was the read-out on a time machine, speeding me headlong into the future at the rate of 20 cents every fifth of a mile. When the fare hit $38.50 I started screaming at the driver "Slow down, I'm almost forty and I don't even have a girlfriend!" So, in short, no more ganja for me. Just plenty of good old anti-depressants, anxiety meds, pain-killers, rhodiola rosea and yummy yummy booze.)