Anna in an industrial hemp field in Canada
Abbreviated version originally published in the April Edition of the Emerald Magazine:
With all the attention on cannabis these days, some may overlook the low THC seed and fiber crop varieties commonly known as hemp. In fact, there is a lot of confusion around what hemp is, how it can be used, and what role, if any, hemp can play in our local Humboldt scene. To gain some insight and understanding I interviewed Anna Owen, sole proprietor of Redwood Hemp – a local organization which organized the “cannabis stalk” drives at events such as the 2015 Hempfest. She’s also a grassroots organizer for the national Hemp History Week and volunteers with Hempstead Project HEART (begun by John Trudell) – a group currently working with Hemp Production Services, a Canada-based hemp food distribution company.
Jack Herer is personified as a saint by many of his fans. In his groundbreaking book The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Mr. Herer documents history and research that leads readers to believe cannabis, mainly hemp, can mend our unsustainable economy built on finite resources and endless growth. Industrial hemp is woven into the evolution of modern society. The Chinese produced paper by mixing hemp and other fibers – granting the ability to record history, ideology, statistics, innovations, etc. In Europe, hemp fiber was used to fabricate sails and rope – making long distance naval travel possible. Hemp – a strong hardy fiber – contributed to European travel across the Atlantic (in the 1700’s) and subsequent discovery of the America’s. Hemp seed and fiber was mandatory in early long distance travel. Used as grain for food or seed, hemp could be brought anywhere and offered the ability to reproduce sustainable supply of food and fiber. Hemp was an integral part of society prior to Reefer Madness and the War-on-Drugs. This resource had been largely lost in modern society until Jack Herer and others reminded us of its potential. Some believe hemp can save the world, but as we are too often reminded: ideology is constantly confronted by material realities such as economy and law. With cannabis legalization seemingly inevitable, this beneficial crop continues to face scrutiny. On the North Coast, hemp – the cousin of medicinal cannabis – is seen as more pariah than savior. And why we collectively ask? Well, as Mr. Herer curses from his saintly perch in the clouds, let us ask the old man in the hills…
The views and opinions expressed by the old man in the hills does not reflect the views and opinions of the Humboldt Underground. HU feels obligated to provide a voice for all in our community. Our goal is to move the conversation forward and all points-of-view are legitimate (unless hateful or discriminatory). Every voice in our community deserves to be heard.
In our current epoch the cannabis plant resides at a unique crossroad. Agriculture, nutrition, religion, resource management, medicine, art, fashion, gastronomy, academics, law, politics, athletics, and alternative lifestyles all intersect with the plant. From Miles Davis to Michael Phelps to President Obama, we all smoke weed – even Newt Gingrich said it’s the thing to do! The plant can ease sore bones, cultivate creativity, be processed into fuel, stimulate conversation, symbolize a culture, or simply make dinner more enjoyable. The vast utility of the plant is still unknown due to years of culture war – stigmatizing, scapegoating, and excluding the plants supporters. Now mainstream – TIME dedicated a special edition to cannabis legalization – consumers want to devour Northern California’s normalizing cannabis industry and culture, McDonaldizing and Disneyfying as they go – everything in neat tidy boxes. Will Humboldt’s cannabis farming forefathers go the way of Burt of Burt’s Bees? What role do younger generations play with cannabis legalization looming? How do we walk the line between saving Humboldt’s cannabis industry and staying true to our community, values, and culture: our elders? We’re all standing on the shoulders of giants (unknown and otherwise) and due credit is deserved. HU is dedicated to this end and as the Underground Review trudges on to its inevitable fate – legalization – HU will continue to unearth the people of our emerging cannabis industry.
After meeting with Humboldt NORML at Humbrews, HU staff collected back at headquarters for a spliff and a thoughtful conversation, contemplating all the different view points…
Posted in The Underground Review
Tagged Bill Maher, Cannabis, Cannabis Industry, Emerald, Hemp, Humboldt, Judging Cannabis, Marijuana, Napa, NORML, Outdoors, Water