A gold mine of facts on hemp

Issue 

The Emperor Wears No Clothes (1995 Edition)
By Jack Herer
Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy in Australia
By John Jiggens

Reviewed by Brent Wish

HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) has reprinted the classic The Emperor Wears No Clothes and has added an Australian supplement, Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy in Australia.

The Emperor was first printed in 1985, and has since been considered a bible for those seeking information on hemp, prohibition and marijuana drug use. The short supplement gives interesting evidence of early hemp production and the popularisation of marijuana as a drug. The two books aim to educate the public on the historical, current and possible future uses of the hemp plant.

Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy in Australia provides an interesting historical account. It documents the discovery of the wild Hunter River crop of the 1960s, from which marijuana use was popularised in youth culture. It also provides evidence that the colonisation of Australia was, in part, motivated by the British wanting a large source of hemp fibre. It makes very interesting reading.

Herer, author of The Emperor, was recently in Brisbane to launch this edition. He said that the aim of the book was to "educate and teach people the history of the greatest number one plant on earth". Herer backs this up with more than 100 pages of facts, anecdotes and historical articles collected over 20 years. Of particular note is government propaganda from the past and present upholding a greed-motivated prohibition.


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Many aspects of the hemp plant are detailed, including the historical use of hemp for fibre, as a medicine, for biomass fuel and the seed as a food source. A historical analysis of marijuana use as a drug is also presented as well as the early use of marijuana by different cultures and its popularisation worldwide since the '60s.

An important aspect is the political analysis of prohibition. There is evidence that racism and prejudice were behind the prohibition of marijuana use in the US and eventually much of the world.

Also documented are the ongoing efforts by governments and business interests to maintain prohibition. The lies, the bogus experimental data, the suppression of scientific results and media disinformation are contrasted with the real social costs of prohibition and the state enforcement of these laws.

The Emperor presents two major reasons why legalisation of hemp must happen. The first is the need to stop wasting millions of dollars enforcing laws that criminalise marijuana users, and instead address drug use in a realistic and educational way. The second is that hemp is a potentially trillion-dollar environmentally sustainable plant that can be used for food, fibre and fuel. The simple reality is that hemp could replace the non-sustainable oil and forestry industries of the world.

The big criticism I have is Herer's lack of strategy to end marijuana prohibition. He totally ignores mass action tactics and only advocates using elections and the legislative process to voice our dissent. The huge rallies and publicity of the HEMP campaign in Brisbane have been instrumental in involving people in the campaign and educating the public about the issue. The activists on the ground are getting it right on how to fight prohibition.