Recently Indiana became the newest state to enter the fight to legalize marijuana, joining a growing number of states that have gotten into the business of cannabis. It is currently legal in 4 states and Washington D.C. with many more states proposing bills in the coming year. Indystar has more on Indiana’s current battle to legalize marijuana.
HEMPSTERS: PLANT THE SEED follows seven activists and their allies as they fight to legalize industrial hemp in the United States, which is used in over 30 countries and is widely known to have numerous environmental benefits such as: less reliance on oil, more efficient use of energy, forest conservation, and soil redemption, just to name a few. Hemp does not need pesticides to grow; it actually leaches toxins out of the ground. Any product that can be made from petroleum oils can also be produced by hemp.
Featured in the film is award-winning actor and well-known hemp and environmental activist, Woody Harrelson, who challenged Kentucky State law when he planted four feral hemp seeds in 1996. His subsequent trial and acquittal brought the issue to the forefront of mainstream media more than ten years ago, but the fight continues on. Also featured are: Willie Nelson, Ralph Nader and Merle Haggard.
- The US Drug Enforcement Agency classifies all C. sativa varieties as “marijuana.” While it is theoretically possible to get permission from the government to grow hemp, DEA would require that the field be secured by fence, razor wire, dogs, guards, and lights, making it cost prohibitive.
- The US State Department must certify each year that a foreign nation is cooperating in the war on drugs. The European Union subsidizes its farmers to grow industrial hemp. Those nations are not on this list, because the State Department can tell the difference between hemp and marijuana.
- Hemp was grown commercially (with increasing governmental interference) in the United States until the 1950s. It was doomed by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which placed an extremely high tax on marijuana and made it effectively impossible to grow industrial hemp. While Congress expressly expected the continued production of industrial hemp, the Federal 13 Bureau of Narcotics lumped industrial hemp with marijuana, as it’s successor the US Drug Enforcement Administration, does to this day.
- Over 30 industrialized democracies do distinguish hemp from marijuana. International treaties regarding marijuana make an exception for industrial hemp.
- Canada now again allows the growing of hemp.
“a NORML life” chronicles the state of medical marijuana in America through interviews with patients, caregivers, activists and doctors. The filmmakers visit locations such as California, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C. where cannabis medicine is being regulated for patients. Many interviews were made at Seattle’s Hempfest 2010 and at recent NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) conferences.
NORML has advocated the decriminalization of cannabis for over 40 years. Its founder, current leaders and nationwide chapter representatives describe the patchwork of state and municipal laws that allow medical marijuana, while the federal government still regards cannabis as a dangerous narcotic. Voters in the US are increasingly recognizing the positive aspects of accepting and controlling medical marijuana in their communities for its medicinal benefits, as well as for its potential to generate needed tax revenue.
Interviews with doctors who treat and patients who suffer from physical and debilitating conditions explain that pharmaceutical medicines are often ineffective and produce dangerous side effects to their conditions. Most turn to cannabis in desperation only to discover pain and psychological relief, physical improvement and often a reversal of pathology. U.S. and international clinical studies contain overwhelming positive evidence that the numerous cannabanoid compounds found in marijuana have constructive properties and may be the key to the future of the plant as a medicine.