History, Latest Post, Marijuana-Cannabis-Hemp

In Praise of Hemp


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by Jim Prues / September 29th, 2010

Hemp use predates the Agrarian Age, as hemp fibers have been found in pottery in China and Taiwan dating to 7,000 years ago. The classical Greek historian Herodotus (ca. 480 BC) reported that the inhabitants of Scythia would often inhale the vapours of hemp smoke, both as ritual and for their own pleasurable recreation. So presumably the Scythians were the first recorded stoners.

 

In Europe, hemp growing and production became quite popular during the Medieval Age, having disseminated in that direction along with much of the technology of the Arabic Golden Age in Northern Africa. In Europe hemp seeds were used for food and oils, the leaves for teas and the stalks for fibres, including rope, clothes, sails and paper. Estimates put the number of Europeans actively involved in hemp growing and production in the 15th and 16th century at well over 50%.

Hemp has a strong historical influence on every continent, with varied cultural and religious traditions. Many African spiritual practices involve consuming hemp smoke to enhance awareness and generate visions like the Dagga ‘cults’.

The Spaniards brought hemp to the Western Hemisphere and cultivated it in Chile starting about 1545. However, in May 1607, “hempe” was among the crops Gabriel Archer observed being cultivated by the natives at the main Powhatan village, where Richmond, Virginia is now  situated; and in 1613, 

Samuell Argall reported wild hemp “better than that in England” growing along the shores of the upper Potomac. As early as 1619, the first Virginia House of Burgesses passed an Act requiring all planters in Virginia to sow “both English and Indian” hemp on their plantations. The Puritans are first known to have cultivated hemp in New England in 1645.

In more modern times, hemp was a popular crop in antibellum Kentucky and other southern states. It was commonly used for a variety of products, most notably the paper on which the U.S. Constitution was written. Several of our founding fathers were hemp farmers.

All this changed with William Randoph Hearst, who began demonizing hemp in order to leverage his great tracks of forest for paper production instead of needing to buy hemp from other farmers. His effort to demonize the plant was also instigated by his racism, as many hispanics and blacks used hemp for recreation. The word, marijuana, is the hispanic term for that form of hemp which has psychoactive ingredients.

There are several varieties of hemp, most of which have very little THC [tetra-hydro-cannabanoid], the mind-effecting component. For most of U.S. history, the distinction was well-understood and laws reflected that awareness. Like so many with the power of media, however, Mr. Hearst did his best to cloud that distinction, as he was against hemp in any form. Indeed, industrial hemp was referred to as ‘ditchweed’, while hemp for medicinal or recreations purposes has come to be known as marijuana.

An analogy would be poppies, where you have the breadseed poppy seeds that can be found on bread or rolls, in contrast to the opium poppies grown to create morphine and heroin.

As reference, the timber and lumber industries, textile and petro-chemical industries are the most influential in keeping hemp illegal. As usual, we can follow the money. Then for pot there’s the pharmaceutical industry, the alcohol lobby and all those anti-drug agencies with self-preservation interests. We learn much from understanding these connections.

With this background, let’s consider how hemp might again play a pivotal role in our culture.

Assuming access to air and water, our most regular needs are for food and energy. In the World4 culture, these needs, at least for the industrialized world, are met through global corporations like ADM, Monsanto, BP and Exxon. And of course, hemp is illegal to grow in much of the industrialized world and particularly the United States.

But as noted above, hemp is easily grown with little required in the way of fertilizer or pesticides. As such, hemp typifies a sustainably-oriented plant. Corn, by comparison, requires heavy doses of fertilizer, especially nitrogen, and requires a good deal of pesticide use, with Roundup often used to kill weeds, and genetically modified corn seed that is resistant to the effects of Roundup. With the vast expanses of corn grown in this country, it should be no surprise that the runoff from these chemicals has created a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. And let us not forget that our tax dollars subsidize these efforts through farm and energy subsidies.

With hemp, we have a low-impact, high-yield crop that can be used for a variety of uses. The stalks and fiber can used for composites that can be a wood substitute in an array of products. They can also be processed to create ethanol. They can be burned as a carbon-neutral resource, since the carbon they release is but the carbon the plant ingested during it’s life. Durable, light-weight, and strong, it’s difficult to imagine all the uses for industrial hemp were we to focus on designing and building hemp-based products.

With hemp oil we have another energy-rich resource, which can be used in cooking, as lamp oil and as a medicinal, as its high concentration of essential fatty acids is great for the skin and overall health.

Hemp seed can be used as a food as well. The roasted seeds are crunchy, they can be used in soups and casseroles, mixed with cereals or other foods. They’re highly nutritious, have a good deal of protein and again, are positive-impact environmentally.

Hemp has remediation properties too. It absorbs heavy metals in the soil, reducing their toxicity and harmful environment effects. There are vast expanses of hemp in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear accident for just that reason.

Hemp can be grown successfully in nearly every state in these United States. One can imagine a culture where locally produced hemp provides a good portion of the energy, food and product needs for our communities. This methodology would provide employment in both production and processing of the plant. It would reduce the environmental damage caused by our overused, subsidized corn. [Corn syrup is a cheap, low grade sugar that’s in a ton of processed foods.] Re-integrating hemp into our culture is just good, common sense.

And then there’s marijuana. The heathen devil-weed [a term coined by Heart’s yellow press] was blamed for all sorts of bad behavior as part of the demonization process. But as usual, someone who smokes pot and acts badly likely acts badly anyway, with marijuana as the straw man. Marijuana reduces aggressive behavior, unlike alcohol. This slander against the singular most influential plant in human history is but one example of the dysfunctionality of our culture.

Weed does indeed have psychotropic properties of note. Being stoned has a curious effect on the mind. Most say it tends to enhance whatever we feeling or experiencing at the time, offering a heightened experience of music or games or food [the proverbial munchies]. It is often used as a mind-quieting agent as well, as the stream of thoughts so constant to most of us becomes less pressing in a marijuana state of mind. In our fear-ridden, highly-stressed culture that alone could be of great value.

It’s worth noting that marijuana has not been placed as the medical cause in a single death in this country. Compare that with alcohol, tobacco, or the host of concoctions the pharmaceutical industry markets to us constantly. Mary Jane is decidedly benign.

As a medicinal, hemp oil has the afore mentioned essential fatty acids that are very effective for skin issues like excema and when ingested enhances body health. Medical marijuana is much in the news these days, being legal in California and a handful of other states. It’s value in alleviating the worst effect of cancer treatments,  chronic back ache and other issues is well-documented. Imagine if our culture actually encouraged research on medical marijuana. Not likely when the legal drug cartel we call the pharmaceutical industry has so much influence in government.

Proposition 19 is a measure on the ballot in California this fall that makes hemp legal. It merits our support for all the reasons indicated in this writing. Perhaps with this ballot measure passing we can begin to reverse the foolishness that has withheld leveraging this marvelous plant for the last 100 years.

Perhaps one of the most beneficial characteristics of this renewable resource is that the hemp plant can be used in its entirety, and that a streamlined life-cycle assessment yields positive impacts on the environment throughout the growth, harvest, and production stages. The industrial hemp plant offers a wide variety of high performance applications through the many aspects of community design, and will help strengthen our local economy, return power back to our local agricultural industry, and restore the environment as it grows. – Scott Blossom

Well said, Mister Blossom. Perhaps this fall [in California Ballot Measure Prop 19] we’ll begin to see a return to sanity in our policies toward this marvelous and versatile plant. And wouldn’t it be just swell to see this happen in the wider context of a return to localism. Very World Five – dude.

Jim Prues is the founder of World 5.0, a new cultural operating system based on peace and love. He can be reached at jim@world5.org. Read other articles by Jim, or visit Jim’s website.

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History, Latest Post

‘In the best interest of our people’


Barren River No. 2 Dam changed lives, region

 

'In the best interest of our people'

 

Posted: Sunday, October 26, 2014 1:00 am

By CHUCK MASON The Daily News cmason@bgdailynews.com 783-3262 | 1 comment

LUCAS — When Steve Jackson puts his fishing line into Barren River Lake, his thoughts often gravitate to his grandfather Carl Disman.

Disman gave up his past so that Jackson and hundreds of thousands of people could have a brighter, safer future in southcentral Kentucky.

Jackson said when he talks to fellow lake anglers about bass and crappie, he tells them about the great fishing spots in the lake, spots where fish gather in and around the old limestone foundations of the farm buildings once owned by men like his grandfather. It’s all underwater now – tangled tree trunks and stumps and old foundations.

There’s even an old spring Disman used near his barn. That’s underwater, too.

Disman was one of nearly 80 property owners who sold their land to the federal government so the property could be flooded by the Barren River No. 2 Dam. Eventually a lake, a state park, lodge and boating facilities would come to Barren and Allen counties, providing a picturesque vacation and camping spot. Jackson recalled Disman’s homestead was one of the last structures condemned to pave the way for the dam project.

According to news reports at the time, property owners in Barren and Allen counties formed a committee so they could collectively deal with the land sales. A newspaper report of a meeting in February 1960 noted about 150 people attended a meeting at the Allen County Courthouse, 78 of whom would be directly affected by what was being called the Port Oliver Dam.

That was one of the first significant steps in a lengthy process that led to Barren River No. 2 Dam being dedicated on Sept. 25, 1964. On Saturday, officials celebrated the 50th anniversary of the dam in ceremonies in Barren County.

To determine why homesteads had to be abandoned and flooded in the first place to create the reservoir, an examination is needed of the rationale for the project. First, there was the unpredictable Barren River, a river that couldn’t be contained within its banks. It had to be tamed for safety and economic reasons. It was dammed to create a reservoir that could launch recreational and economic development opportunities in the region.

The scrutiny begins

In 1944, while the United States fought to quell the Germans and the Japanese in World War II in Europe and the Pacific, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers back stateside was studying the Barren River in Kentucky, a study authorized under the federal Flood Control Act of 1941.

The study showed that 18,340 acres of land in the Barren River flood plain was affected by flooding, taking out 11,005 acres of corn, 3,185 acres of hay, 843 acres of pasture and 3,307 acres of woodlands. Jackson recalls as a boy he saw the Barren River at the Narrows gorged two different times with water that reached the level where the lake rises in elevation today.

The federal study looked at the flood area below the authorized Barren No. 2 reservoir at river mile marker 79.2 and at the river’s mouth. The 1944 study noted the greater losses to floods occurred during the traditional crop season, April to November. The U.S. Army broke the river watershed into two sections, the first from river mile zero to mile marker 43.7 and the second section from 43.7 to 79.2 to look at flood losses.

Records compiled by U.S. Rep. William Natcher, D-Bowling Green, which are available in the Natcher Collection at the Kentucky Museum archives, show the congressman several years later was working to shepherd federal legislation about a concept called low-stream flow. The idea was if the water in the river could be slowed down in speed and thus pooled, it would enhance the fish habitat, maintain a healthy temperature for the fish and also control flooding that had affected farm owners in the flood plain.

The Ohio Valley Improvement Association in Cincinnati, chaired by William Hull, concurred with Natcher’s approach. In a letter to Natcher in 1957, Hull urged Natcher to increase budgeted planning funds for Barren River No. 2 from $50,000 to $150,000 so that construction could be started in fiscal year 1959.

In a Western Union wire sent to the Daily News publisher in 1958, Natcher was pleased to report that the River and Harbors and Flood Control Omnibus Bill had been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 11, 1958, on a vote of 321-81.

“It is in the best interest of our people and national security that the regulation to increase low-stream flows be adopted,” Natcher wrote to J. Ray Gaines.

Turning the earth

The Barren River dam project progressed to the point where on April 16, 1960, Natcher – an influential member of the House Appropriations Committee – lifted the first spade full of dirt for the project while an estimated 1,000 people watched, including Kentucky’s two U.S. senators, John Sherman Cooper and Thruston Morton. News accounts at the time said the dam was just one of $533 million in water development projects in Kentucky.

In a pamphlet produced in 1964 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District, it noted the dam impounded a reservoir with a minimum pool length of 19 miles and a maximum pool length of 46 miles. That’s a total water storage capacity of 768,600 acre-feet of water. One acre-foot of water equals 325,850 gallons of water.

The dam had been a long time coming. An act of Congress in June 1938 provided the potential funding for the dam under the Flood Control Act of 1938. However, it took until 1960 before the first shovel of dirt was turned for the 3,970-foot earthen dam which had a total fill of 5,181,326 cubic yards.

The flood control effort was vital, according to a column in “Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground” written in January 1965 following the 1964 dam dedication ceremony where Natcher and Kentucky Gov. Edward Breathitt spoke.

“Just last spring rampaging waters along the Ohio River cost Kentuckians damages estimated at $32 million. A great deal of this financial disaster and untold human suffering will be avoided in the future because of dams like this one which are being constructed all over Kentucky,” the column noted.

News reports in 1960 stated the highest price paid for land was $275 per acre and that the land-buying process was expected to take a couple of years. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had determined that the river valley would be permanently submerged up to the elevation 520 feet above sea level and that the government would purchase land up to the seasonal pool level of 560 feet above sea level. The top flood level elevation would be 590 feet above sea level.

Jackson, 64, a Barren County resident, said his grandfather resented that he had to give up his farm for the project. “That (farm) was his domain,” Jackson recalled.

With the eventual development of the lake as a tourism spot, people from Alabama, Illinois, Ohio and other states came to Barren River Lake for fishing tournaments. The dollars they spent boosted the economy in Barren, Allen and Monroe counties.

Billy Gray, 77, of Barren County, who first came to southcentral Kentucky at age 9, said the dam was a good decision because of the water supply benefits for the region along with the economic development. Gray said when the dam was completed in 1964, he used to take his water storage vehicles down by the lake to obtain free water for his tobacco plants. The edge of the lake was only about a quarter-mile from his house. Health reasons led to Gray quit growing tobacco in 1997.

Years later, he takes in a Sunday afternoon dinner at the lodge and marvels at the development that has occurred around the lake.

“I think a lot of people who were opposed to it (initially) think differently now,” he said. He compared the situation to when Interstate 65 was built and those people who had traveled along U.S. 31-W wondered why the new road was needed.

When Natcher spoke at the 1960 groundbreaking, the Markwell and Hartz construction firm from Memphis, Tenn., had used its bulldozers to knock down a clearing. Then-Kentucky Gov. Bert Combs joined Natcher, Cooper and Morton that April.

“We’ll keep our children at home and we’ll utilize our natural resources through river development,” Natcher told the crowd, according to news reports. High school bands from Glasgow, Allen County, Butler County and Bowling Green entertained the crowd before the politicians’ speeches, the reports recounted.

Four years later, when the dam was completed, Natcher shared the speaker duties with Breathitt, and the Bowling Green congressman remained optimistic about the $24.5 million dam’s potential. He said the project was the realization of one of his major dreams as a congressman.

Natcher said he was reared on a farm in the Barren River basin and that he knew firsthand the “hardship” of floods.

Col. William Roper of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told people gathered at the Western Hills Restaurant in Bowling Green that the dam was expected to reduce flood damage by $6 million a year, meaning it would pay for itself in just over a decade, news reports show. The Barren River project was one of four major flood control efforts in southcentral Kentucky: Rough River, Nolin, Barren and Green rivers. Roper said the four projects represented a more than $69 million investment.

“The primary purpose of the Barren River Reservoir project is flood control,” the 1964 pamphlet from the Army Corps of Engineers noted. “As an integral unit of the comprehensive flood control plan for the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, it will reduce flood stages in the Barren and Green River valleys and all other areas downstream from the dam. The reservoir is maintained at or near minimum pool level during winter months and at seasonal pool level during summer months except when waters are stored for flood control,” the pamphlet noted.

If you build it, they will come

With the dam operational, Breathitt told the onlookers in 1964 about a proposed $176 million bond issue planned for November 1965 that would pave the way for a resort lodge and swimming pool, boat dock, picnic, camping and swimming facilities. A new state park was about to be born.

The money would soon be forthcoming. The first inkling that the larger economic plan was bankrolled was when it was announced in The (Louisville) Courier-Journal in December 1966 that $1,734,000 in federal money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund established by Congress in 1965 – where fees paid at federal recreation facilities were being distributed to the states – was approved for the project.

The state of Kentucky matched the $1.7 million from the federal government with $1,230,000 realized by a sale of revenue bonds and $724,255 earned from the approved 1965 local bond issue.

By the time the 25th anniversary of Barren River State Resort Park and celebration of the Louis B. Nunn Lodge occurred in 1996 – named for the former Kentucky governor and native of Barren County in 1971 – the complex had become a vibrant part of the community. It had been a long time since the Barren River Valley Development League and public officials had heralded the potential that the dam could bring to the area in their 1964 speeches.

The $3.7 million Kentucky state park generated millions of tourism dollars, a fact not lost on Jackson, who said he, his children and grandchildren benefit from his grandfather’s decision to give up the farm.

Under the water lay those building foundations, former Native American hunting spots and the area that settlers in the 1700s claimed was “barren” because of a lack of trees in the topography, the trees razed to provide grazing areas for buffalo.

Not all the history, though has been overwhelmed by water.

According to the state park’s website, Port Oliver, near the dam, was formerly called Port Oliver Ford, and was the site of a brine-well field for producing table salt. Baileys Point Recreation Area was the site of an antebellum farmhouse, built by early settlers to the area who went by the name of Foster. The website also noted that a family cemetery remains with gravestones and stone vaults that date back to the early 1800s.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers noted it is the largest federal provider of outdoor and water-based recreation in the nation and hosts more than 350 million visits each year at its lakes, beaches and other areas. Corps lands and waters provide about 4,500 miles of trails, 3,400 boat launch ramps and 33 percent of all U.S. freshwater fishing.

— Follow reporter Chuck Mason on Twitter at twitter.com/bgdnschools or visit bgdailynews.com.

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