The Most Revolutionary Act

Diverse Ramblings of an American Refugee

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Location
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Birthday
December 02
Bio
Retired psychiatrist, activist and author with a new young adult novel - A Rebel Comes of Age - due for release on Dec 21, 2013. My 2010 memoir THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ACT: MEMOIR OF AN AMERICAN REFUGEE describes the circumstances that led me to leave the US in 2002. More information about both books (and me) at www.stuartjeannebramhall.com

MY RECENT POSTS

FEBRUARY 22, 2012 6:17PM

Killing the Hemp Industry: Another Corporate Conspiracy

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Henry Ford in his hemp plantation

Henry Ford in his hemp plantation

(This is the second of three posts about the Industrial Hemp Farming Act Bill, sponsored by Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.)

The Decline of Hemp

Hemp first began losing ground in 1850 to cheaper substitutes made of cotton, jute, sisal and petroleum. Prior to the 1920s, hemp had to be processed by hand, involving huge labor costs incompatible with mass commercial production. Henry Ford, one of the first modern conservationists, remained a strong hemp advocate and had his own hemp plantation on his estate in Dearborn Michigan (http://www.hemphasis.net/History/history.htm). The body of his 1908 Model T was made of hemp-based plastic, which has far greater tensile strength and durability than steel. After George W Schlicten automated hemp processing in 1917 with a new machine called the hemp decoricator, Ford set up the first biomass fuel production plant in Iron Mountain, Michigan. Ford ran the first Model T on corn-based ethanol (alcohol), but was quick to recognize hemp as a cheaper and more efficient fuel source. His engineers in Iron Mountain developed processes to extract not only ethanol from hemp, but charcoal and other industrial chemicals, including tar, ethyl acetate and creosote. The 1919 Prohibition against alcohol, coupled with the growing political power of the oil lobby, derailed Ford’s plans. By 1920 gasoline had replaced ethanol as the auto fuel of choice.

The Corporate Conspiracy to End Hemp Cultivation

All this was happening at the precise moment that the munitions company DuPont was patenting synthetic fibers (nylon, rayon, Dacron, etc) and plastics derived from petroleum. Schlicten’s hemp decoricator and automated hemp processing, posed a major threat to DuPont’s ability to market their synthetic fibers for products previously made from hemp. DuPont also had a commercial interest in promoting wood-based paper production (they held the patent on the sulfates and sulfites used to produce paper pulp) and gasoline. They also held the patent on tetraethyl lead, which allowed gasoline to burn more smoothly in the engine Ford intended to run on ethanol (http://www.hemphasis.net/History/history.htm).

The main co-conspirators in the plot to kill hemp included DuPont, William Randolph Hearst (who owned a logging company and paper manufacturing plant in addition to his American newspaper empire) and Andrew Mellon, president of Mellon Bank and DuPont’s major financier (http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/pot/blunderof37.html). In 1930, Mellon, as US Secretary of the Treasury, created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and appointed his nephew Henry Anslinger to run it. Between 1935 and 1937, Anslinger and a handful of DuPont’s cronies in Congress secretly wrote a bill to tax hemp production. Meanwhile Anslinger and Hearst orchestrated a massive media campaign demonizing a dangerous new drug called marihuana that supposedly turned Mexicans and black jazz musician into crazed killers. Congress was also deliberately tricked into believing marihuana was a totally new drug. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was rushed through on a Friday afternoon before lawmakers had a chance to read it. Only a handful realized marihuana was the same as hemp, which was still viewed as an essential crop and vital to the paint and varnish industry (http://druglibrary.net/schaffer/Library/studies/vlr/vlr4.htm).

Between 1941 and 1945 the Marihuana Transfer Tax was waived, after Japan embargoed the sale of hemp, jute and other fibers essential to the war industry. The US government once again encouraged Americans to grow hemp for patriotic reasons (http://www.hempadvocates.org/understand.html). Farmers who planted it were exempted from the draft. Hemp was legally grown in Minnesota as late as 1968. In 1970 the Controlled Substances Act officially equated hemp with the drug marijuana and help cultivation became illegal. This was the same year the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was declared unconstitutional (http://www.hemphasis.net/History/history.htm).


To be continued (See arhival footage of Ford's 1941 hemp plastic car below).

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there's a video on youtube of a Ford made entirely of hemp (circa 1930s, I think, and sans the engine, of course). You should grab it and add it on the post.
Malcolm, thanks for the suggestion. I found the YouTube video and inserted it in the post.
The United States of America is still working on early 20th centruy concepts. Reasaon being: conservatives make money on the way things are, no matter how ill conceived the concept might be.
You make a compelling argument, Dr. Also, Peter makes a great point, something very few understand, and it explains the horror Americans have in the back of their minds from changing the "status quo." Thank you. R
Every day I drink a protein shake that includes hemp protein as well as hemp oil. When I first started taking it, I dropped 10 lbs. without even trying. I also snack on hulled hemp seeds whenever I get hungry. I swear by the stuff and highly recommend it to anyone who wants feel rejuvenated in the morning without coffee.

Its amazing to me that hemp, which does not contain THC, is illegal to grow in this country. Great job bringing this to peoples' attention, Doc.
Yes, Thoth, I agree totally with Peter's point. I think this is one reason why capitalism is so ineffective in generating genuine technological innovation - the people in power are too busy getting rich off the status quo.
This is something of a 2-way street, though. We see the issues of not having industry standards in certain things sometimes (USB comes to mind) as well.

The real issue here was an artificial barrier to entry. If hemp was allowed to be cultivated and used instead of needlessly blocked from use, the market would have functioned just fine.

The one place where the market is pretty efficient is with commodities (when it's not being manipulated, or when artificial monopolies are not allowed to form, as in the case of oil).

I know someone will post something about how crazy the commodities markets are in response to this, but if you go to your Farmer's Market, the price of an apple is pretty much the same from stand to stand. The differences in price, in that case, is truly a function of quality or niche (organic vs. non organic, for instance).

Capitalism has its faults as does Socialism. This has little to do with either, however.
Another eye opener.......!
.
Take it from this farm boy - Mr Ford is not sitting in a hemp plantation in that picture. Those are sheaves of wheat, or possibly barley (the picture isn't sharp enough to discriminate the long hairs on barley).
Thank you, I'm really enjoying the additional information (and connecting the dots) about a subject I thought I already knew quite a bit about. Amazing to see that video and impact demonstration (imagine the "impact" that would have on the multi-billion dollar auto body repair industry and benefit to consumer pockets)? I wonder what the comparitive weight would be (major consideration in fuel consumption of any kind) relative to the very thin steel and aluminum body designs and how the inflexibility would cause passenger protection systems to have to be redesigned? Perhaps with some rational moves into the future (or unblocking of the past) we'll find these things out.
Rated and shared.
@John Galt: Yes, another thing, as someone who's been very aware of nutrition and sensitive to the effects of the foods I eat since my teen years I was introduced to Hemp Hearts while spending time in Canada. I was amazed at the energy level and sense of well-being they imparted and better still, they are delicious! If anyone wants to check it out just Google the words hemp hearts Canada for legal sources.