A documentary defense of the hemp plant, revealing the laws against it to be hypocritical and unjust. [Dir: Anthony Clarke/ 75 min/ Documentary-Educational/ Australia/ Legalize Drugs]
The viewer learns from this film that the hemp plant has been a friend to mankind for millennia. Its seeds, stalks, and leaves can be put to many uses: as food, building material, textiles, cooking oil, fuel, cosmetics, paper, medicine, and, of course, recreational drug. Ah, and there’s the rub. Recreational drugs other than nicotine and alcohol are forbidden in the U.S. and, thanks to U.S. government pressure, are increasingly forbidden around the world. This film makes a tremendous case not only that the ban on hemp (i.e. marijuana) as a drug is indefensible but also that, because of the ban, an enormously high price is being paid in terms of forgone alternative uses of hemp. For instance, consider the advantages of hemp in the manufacture of paper. As told here, an acre of hemp produces four times as much fiber as an acre of trees with no need for pesticides (because, of course, hemp grows like a … weed) as far less need for chemicals in processing. The finest and longest-lasting paper made is of hemp, including that which the first copy of the Declaration of Independence was written. Ironically, it was that very usefulness that got hemp banned in the first place. In a story that will be familiar to libertarians, the film alleges that manufacturers of chemicals, paper, and textiles allied to get the U.S. government to forbid hemp production. It eventually did so on trumped-up charges that hemp, then renamed as marijuana, was responsible for a wave of violent crime, as detailed in the now much ridiculed film Reefer Madness. Apart from a brief period during World War II when the government actually encouraged the growing of hemp, it has been banned ever since. That’s especially tragic for those in need of it as a medicinal. And few such people tell their stories here, of using marijuana for pain relief and of being arrested for it. That brings up the biggest price being paid for the ban: liberty. Each year, according to the film, one hundred thousand Americans are arrested for marijuana use (by others’ reckoning, that figure is over six hundred thousand). Thanks to those sorts of numbers, the U.S. now has the world’s highest overall rate of incarceration. All this and much more is reported in this nearly encyclopedic account of hemp’s relationship with modern man. It’s a devastating critique of the laws against hemp. This film is recommended for outreach material.
This article was reprinted from Jon Osborne's Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video: Movies for the Libertarian Millenium, available in the Advocates Liberty Store.