Cannabis cornucopia anyone?

The marijuana, cannabis, or hemp plant is one of the oldest psychoactive plants known to humanity. Cannabis has become one of the most widespread and diversified of plants. It grows as weed and cultivated plant all over the world in a variety of climates and soils. Cannabis preparations have been used as remedies for thousands of years and the active ingredients of the hemp plant can be put to use in a multitude of medical conditions.

Cannabis seeds are some of the richest in the world, containing vitamins A, B, C, D, E and almost all essential fatty acids including Omega 3, 6 and 9. Her leaves and flowers are used for recreational and medical purposes and in some cultures in traditional (religious) rituals. Her fibers are one of the strongest we know and can be used for making textiles, her pulp can be used for making paper, and apparently this is only the beginning of what is possible with this miracle plant?

Oh, and cannabis smells good to me.sausage

History

Marijuana has been used throughout history in many different cultures as food and fiber for making textiles, as narcotic to support healing and finding relief, and as means for changing mood, perception, and consciousness. Hemp predates human civilisation and only became separated from its psychoactive cousin, cannabis, around a hundred years ago. Hemp is any cannabis plant that measures 0.3% or less.

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Recreational and medical use

Different types of cannabis have different effects on our brain and body. Indica dominant varieties have a relaxing effect on muscles and are mostly used for medical purposes. Sativa dominant varieties in general have a cerebral, creative effect.

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Besides wide support for the use of the plant for the indications such as discomfort and nausea during chemotherapy and radiotherapy, arthritis, glaucoma, spasms, AIDS wasting syndrome and chronic pain, much more has been written about the medicinal effects of cannabis.

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Myths?

Cannabis is addictive

This is less than clear: addiction experts tend to agree that pot is addictive, but nonspecialists and much of the public see it differently. It all depends on what you mean by “addiction.” The distinction between “physical addiction” and “psychological dependency” is completely arbitrary. Psychological addiction occurs in our brain and hence is (also) about physical changes (i.e. in biochemistry). Another clouding factor is that growers manipulate the plant chemistry to suit our needs, so it really isn’t black or white. And “cannabis addiction” is politically charged.

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Cannabis destroys brain cells

Not found. On the contrary.

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Use of cannabis leads to use of hard drugs

The gateway drug theory hypothesises that the use of less deleterious drugs can lead to a future risk of using more dangerous hard drugs or crime. It is often attributed to the earlier use of one of several licit substances, like tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis. The reverse gateway theory posits that earlier regular cannabis use predicts later tobacco initiation and/or nicotine dependence in those who did not use tobacco before. And then these models of thinking may have it all backward.
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Smoking cannabis gives you lung cancer

Could be. One study showed cannabis smoke containing 50% more hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke, yet other studies found no link between smoking cannabis and lung, head and throat cancer.

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Cannabis is legal in the netherlands

Yes and no. Cannabis is not really legal in the netherlands. In 1970 its government adopted an “allow policy” with regard to soft drugs, allowing the sales of small amounts in coffee shops. Coffee shops need to get a special license and are only allowed to sell at max 5 grams to people over 18. Smoking marijuana in public is not allowed. The policy also allows for growing (max 5) cannabis plants for recreational purposes. If however neighbours complain, the police can confiscate the lot. Growing marijuana professionally or commercially is strictly forbidden. Many dutch like this solution. If cannabis were fully legalised in the netherlands, the dutch tulip landscape would probably be sporting a stampede of troika supported dick-swinging  pungently obnoxious necrotrophic parasites, looking to grab some land.

As of 2008, all psychedelic mushrooms are banned (but not truffles), and in 2010 the just installed government announced a plan to make “coffeeshops for dutch people only” by introducing so-called “weed passes”.

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Note: Only 5% of the dutch population uses cannabis regularly.

Legalisation

There is a reason marijuana is not legal anywhere on this planet: the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, an international treaty adopted in 1961. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug under this treaty. Those are forbidden. Countries can decriminalise marijuana use, but no signatory to the treaty can legalise either her use or cultivation.

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Industrial use

Both cannabis and hemp are industrialised. The high concentrations of vitamins and essential fatty acids make Cannabis a prime candidate for biofuel.

Hemp is traditionally used for bird seed, fishing bait, ropes, and animal bedding. Any international farmer who wishes to grow hemp may do so after obtaining certain agricultural permits from local government authorities.

A range of studies have shown that hemp can thrive with minimal (or even without) herbicides, can reinvigorate the soil (by phytoremediation), and requires less water than crops like cotton. Supposedly it could prevent deforestation and presents significant benefits compared with wood in the production of paper because industrial hemp matures in three to four months whereas it takes years for trees. Plus it can yield four times as much paper per acre as trees.

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If only it were that easy. The broader picture includes impacts to other related ecosystems or agricultural productions, to the regional hydrological cycle, to soils, to other accompanying flora, to wildlife and to people (who may use the forest for many purposes). To say that one monoculture is more efficient in the use of water for biomass production may be true, but on its own this does not mean much, because all the other components of the equation are not taken into account. And there is still the matter of the remaining dangers of monocultures:

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Double bind

Legalisation of cannabis for recreational and medical use seems to create a minor double bind. If legalised it will be regulated and taxed and appropriated by (corporate) powers. The solution used in the netherlands, allowing growing for personal use, but not commercially, and at the discernment of the police, works sofar but creates a dependency on police as “judge”. Of course you can take police or corporate powers to court if you disagree, IF you have enough money for that. The dutch judicial system no longer guarantees access to all. And it may be that we will not seem to have a choice at all as TTIP renders even such access useless.

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