As I chew on this sticky, hemp-seed infused granola bar—which is surprisingly not awful (and an “excellent source of Omega-3,” according to the label)—an actor dressed in an elaborate George Washington costume is preparing to dump a 50-pound bag of hemp seeds on the doorstep of the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder‘s office.
Is he trying to get arrested? Perhaps. The stunt is being orchestrated by activists with the nonprofit Hemp Industries Association and Vote Hemp advocacy group, as part of the first annual Hemp History Week.
Yesterday, a North Dakota lawmaker filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, accusing the federal Drug Enforcement Administration of delaying the approval of federal licenses to grow “non-drug” industrial hemp in that state.
It’s a subtle distinction. Both hemp and marijuana are varieties of the cannabis plant. But the THC levels are much different. Smoking marijuana will get you high. Smoking hemp will only make you frustrated. Still, the two plants have a similar look and aroma, which is probably why the government bans the domestic cultivation of hemp, too, because, well, who can really tell the difference?
It wasn’t always that way, of course.
Two nights ago, an intimate crowd gathered in the subterranean Capitol Hemp store in Adams Morgan for readings from the recently uncovered diaries of one-time government botanist Lyster Dewey (prominently featured recently in the Washington Post, and less surprisingly, High Times magazine).
The diaries contain all sorts of details on hemp farming research by the government dating back to the 1890s and indicate that Dewey himself used to grow the stuff at his place in Petworth, identified in the books as 4512 9th Street NW.
On Friday, a bunch of hemp advocates will board the Capitol Hemp truck, bound for Mt. Vernon to find out where America’s first president grew it (“a well-known fact,” according to Vote Hemp honcho Eric Steenstra) on his Virginia farm. It seems tourists don’t usually get that info during tours of the historical site. Maybe they’ll bring the guy in Washington garb to give a history lesson.
Photo courtesy of the Hemp Industry Association