Ethnobotanists Explore Non -Pharmaceutical Healing

“If the words 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' don't include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn't worth the hemp it was written on.”

― Terrance McKenna

I truly smoldered with joy reading this quote from my favorite ethnobotanist. Understanding botany and its cultural applications is a hobby of mine.  The most fascinating aspect of this field of study is pinpointing the native uses of a plant and tracing these anecdotes  to modern rituals.  For instance we know that in the Americas as early as 5000 BC tobacco was used in shamanastic rituals and that cannabis was vaporized on hot rocks and inhaled directly We know that many types of cultures sucked on leaves and while this etymology is not applied to  the custodial chain of intellectual property in doling out rights to cures, I believe that knowing the origins of cultural adoption and usage of psychotropic agents gives insight into our human symbolism.  In my humble perspective medicines that are plant derived should not be an intellectual property that can be owned by a corporation.


In my country, America, we have a rather tawdry history of coupling public policy with the interests of industrial wealthmakers.  The idea that one of the most important documents in our history - The Declaration of Independence is written on hemp paper thrills me.  Especially that one of the most psychedelic voices online called out this little known fact.  According to my own research the document is actually written on parchment which is animal skin. The quote is still titillating, and even though not a true fact in the plain vanilla sense the notion brings up a remarkable point: what is the history of hemp in the United States.

Personally, I believe this is a story which starts with the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act.  My father was born in 1936 and having listened to many of his stories and living with him, I have a natural understanding of the 40s, 50s, and 60s - decades before my birth.  Knowing more than 1 individual from this generation I would agree that generally they referred to cannabis as "marijuana" or "ganja"- slang terms.  


The 1937 Tax Act was drafted by Congressman Harry Anslinger.  Many believe that the bill was a proactive attempt to thwart dynamic growth of the hemp industry which posed a threat to Hearst Enterprises and their associated timber holdings.  Hemp was a possible replacement to wood pulp in the industrial production of paper for newspapers.  Andrew Mellon the Secretary of Treasury and richest man in the US during that era, was heavily invested in Hearst.   Industrial Historians are divided on the origins of the Marijuana Tax Act which effectively made Marijuana Usage illegal.  FDR had asked about creating uniform federal regulations for the states to follow on controlled substances.

The Farm Bill of 2018 took Cannabis products with lower levels of THC off of the Schedule 1 drug list.  The FDA is still the Federal Agency in charge of regulating CBD. They are working to make sure that CBD innovation continues in a way to promote public health!  I am very happy that CBD is going to be a substantial crop in the US and a dynamic addition to the dietary supplement and cosmetics sector! 

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