CANNABIS IN AMERICA: DEBUNKING STONER TALES.
Written by Felicia Harder & Rebecca Victoria
The United States government has changed it's opinion about cannabis many times in it's 243 years as a nation. Cannabis and hemp are deeply woven into the fabric of America. Hemp is a versatile multi-purpose plant, similar to cannabis but with a much lower THC content. It's cultivated because of it's versatility. Hemp has been resourceful and a vital catalyst for early innovations in medical, food and textile industries. There are many fables and historic events intertwined with the creation of our nation but listed here are are a few cannabis stoner tales debunked.
DID BETSY ROSS SEW THE 1ST AMERICAN FLAG USING HEMP?
Technically there is not even written historical evidence that Betsy Ross even made the original flag in 1776. This iconic piece of American history actually lacks written documentation. Despite this, historians agree that it doesn’t mean the verbal storytelling lacks truth. The story of Ross and the flag wasn’t even relayed to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania until a century later in 1870 by Ross’ grandson! Even so, the almost 150-year-old story of Ross sewing the nation’s first flag is considered to be authentic enough to be factual to most historians. Betsy Ross still maintains a staple in America’s history. Another claim to the story was that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag using hemp. Although this would be a fun fact, it simply does not have enough evidence to prove it was true, and the physical flag no longer exists.
FUN FACT: A hemp version of United States flag was actually flown over the nation’s capitol building twice in the past 10 years. Once in 2013, on the Fourth of July after Colorado hemp advocate Michael Bowman thought of the idea while lobbying for pro-hemp measures in the farm bill. The second time was in 2015. For Veteran’s Day The Growing Warriors Project, a company who employs disabled veterans to make hemp flags, advocated for the hemp version to fly over the capitol.
WAS THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE MADE OUT OF HEMP?
Early drafts, MAYBE? The final draft, NO.
Hemp production in the United States dates back to the 17th century, and it was widely used to make flags, rope, lamp fuel, sails for ships, paper, and other textiles. It is noted that because of the popularity of hemp paper that drafts of the declaration may have been written on it. Numerous sites, blogs, and even Reddit posts question the validity but it has yet to be proven. However, the final versions of the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are actually written on Parchment, which is made up of animal skin.
DID THOMAS JEFFERSON SMUGGLE CANNABIS SEEDS FROM CHINA?
There is no evidence that claims that Thomas Jefferson smuggled, smoked cannabis or even went to China. But hemp has been used all over the world throughout history and there is evidence that the Chinese used it as a fiber and for its medicinal uses. According to Psychology Today, some of the earliest archeological hemp evidence, about 10,000 B.C., comes from rope imprints on broken Chinese pottery, and there are particles of hemp fabric that has been found in Chinese burial chambers from the Chou Dynasty (1122-249 B.C.). We can only assume that Jefferson may have grown cannabis at his plantations because his hometown was Monticello, Virginia. Colonies in Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut were legally required to grow hemp in the 1600s.
DID AMERICA ONCE GROW CANNABIS LEGALLY?
In fact, the Virginia Assembly in 1619 passed legislation that required every farmer to grow hemp. Cannabis hemp quickly became a legal tender in most of the early settler days of 1631 into the early 1800s in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland according to PBS. Plus, it became a popular ingredient in many medicinal products and was sold in public pharmacies. However, in the 20th century, attitude towards cannabis began to change due to political and racial factors. This led to the criminalization of cannabis and hemp in the United States, starting with the passing of the “Marihuana Tax Act” in 1937. The US government still believed hemp to be a valuable resource and, in 1942, even created "Hemp for Victory" a pro-hemp propaganda video to encourage farmers to produce it. Despite their efforts, hemp was categorized with cannabis as a schedule 1 drug and remained illegal to produce.
FUN FACT: The Farm Bill was passed in 2018, and approved the production growth of hemp that does not contain more than 0.3 percent of THC. As of June 2019, fourteen states in the United States have begun to decriminalize cannabis and has caused the reimagining of the US drug policy.
Cannabis has been used worldwide for thousands of years and has a myriad history of how it has impacted mankind. As cannabis advocates and educators have worked to spread their message about the beneficial side effects of cannabis, the nation's opinion has begun to shift again. All 50 states have some form of legalized cannabis usage from medicinal, strictly CBD, and recreational. Some states have even moved forward to start to decriminalize cannabis all together.
What are some stoner myths that you have heard?