Hemp Helps, Get off your ‘high’ horse Australia!

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By Brad Ive

The debate in Australia regarding the legalisation of marijuana has been going on since the end of WWI. Prohibition was implemented with little research or discussion and produced a very lucrative and notorious black market. However, there are still hemp farms in Australia and have been since its founding. Gifts of land and estates being granted for the sole purpose of growing hemp for use in industry were common prior to The Great War and many farms still exist today. The problem we face when discussing the topic of ending the prohibition of marijuana is brought to us in the form of a social moral argument, a position I find to be precarious at best considering that hemp can be used to manufacture a large chunk of the cleaning chemicals, industrial solvents and adhesives with which we share our everyday lives, without the inherent pollutants and toxic by-products that petrochemicals and industrial waste products bring with our current systems of manufacturing. Simply put, a moral argument against the use of industrialised hemp farms due to drug abuse is ad hominem and does not refute the central point – In short, a logical fallacy.

I’m not stating that dependency on the drug doesn’t exist, I’m stating that the way in which the argument is made sensationalises the issue and relies on the emotional responses of the general public. To this day Marijuana has yet to have directly caused a single death and while the argument can be made that driving or operating machinery while under the influence has caused death and/or suffering, we don’t have a prohibition against alcohol to which we can attribute a large chunk of our current death toll. There needs to be an open, informed, reasoned and fact based discussion on the issue with people from industry, agriculture, social and health professionals that aren’t placing the lens of their own personal or profit based arguments to distort the debate. The prohibition on the recreational use of marijuana is, while in place, enforced only in public use and profiteering. The use of hemp from an industrial standpoint makes more sense than current systems of manufacturing in that it is cheaper to produce, cheaper to refine and the waste products are all usable to different industries, this is one of the arguments made to justify nuclear power, a form of energy production that does not have to be as harmful as it is today (e.g: Thorium based, non-breeder reactors) but remains in its current form for the interest of profit and militaristic agenda.

To finish this article, allow me to demonstrate to you some of the uses that hemp has: Industrial solvents and lubricants, Feed (pets and local wildlife) and food (grain based bars and oil based food additives), construction materials (such as bricks and mortar), biofuel (Henry Ford himself was a proponent of using hemp to fuel his vehicles), and medicines for physical as well as psychiatric ailments. All of these uses have been tried and tested but are overlooked because of the possibilities of recreational abuse. It’s time personal accountability became a part of the debate and until the arguments are made without the bias of corporate or drug lobby groups, the debate will continue to languish in the public forum as nothing more than a side issue to social reform and as such won’t be brought into the domain of environmental or economic policy reform. Australia is an agricultural power in the world and what better way to recognise it than by using a single plant to provide for us in such a broad manner?

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