Tag Archives: Hemp Cannabis

Joey Shithead’s Band of Rebels play for Pot

band of rebels benefit for marc emery

Punk and Pot – two of my fave “things” come together as Vancouver legend Joe Shithead brings his eclectic and musically diverse rock circus out for a once-only rock show in solidarity with Marc Emery the (somewhat self-aggrandizing) seed seller who is hassled by the now-fired, former pit-bull US district attorney John Mackay and other DEA narco-terrorists seeking his extradition to the USA to face re-donk-u-lous charges of conspiricy and mass volume drug peddling.

I’ll be there enjoy the rock and the pot. And you?

Free the BC three Here’s from Sudden Death records announcement:

The long awaited live performance with Joe Shithead Keithley’s Band of Rebels will take place in Vancouver on Thursday December 6th at the Plaza Club. Band of Rebels is Keithley’s solo album, released this past summer that features many of Vancouver’s best musicians. Many of them will be performing at the CD release party, which is also Sudden Death Record’s Christmas party, DVD live recording event and a benefit for Cannabis Canada. The event will also include guest speaker Marc Emery and band Aging Youth Gang.

Joe also did a book – I, Shithead: A Life In Punk – and there is a the full DOA backcatalog available by mail order online too (though i’ve got my $15 aimed at a Bloodied by Unbowed vinyl picture disk at Noize on Seymour).

Washington Post discuss farmers’ quest to seperate hemp and pot

Not sure if there is much luck to be found with this strategy.  The powers that be know the difference, they just don’t find it in their economic interest to act with science and sense in mind.  Anyhow, good to see coverage in the mainstream media in a fairly decent article and a mention of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to make it even better (cross-posted here for education purposes via hemp ed).

From Washington Post: Farmers Ask Federal Court To Dissociate Hemp and Pot
By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 12, 2007; Page A03

Wayne Hauge grows grains, chickpeas and some lentils on 2,000 acres in northern North Dakota. Business is up and down, as the farming trade tends to be, and he is always on the lookout for a new crop. He tried sunflowers and safflowers and black beans. Now he has set his sights on hemp.

Hemp, a strait-laced cousin of marijuana, is an ingredient in products from fabric and food to carpet backing and car door panels. Farmers in 30 countries grow it. But it is illegal to cultivate the plant in the United States without federal approval, to the frustration of Hauge and many boosters of North Dakota agriculture.

On Wednesday, Hauge and David C. Monson, a fellow aspiring hemp farmer, will ask a federal judge in Bismarck to force the Drug Enforcement Administration to yield to a state law that would license them to become hemp growers.

“I’m looking forward to the court battle,” said Hauge, a 49-year-old father of three. “I don’t know why the DEA is so afraid of this.”

The law is the law and it treats all varieties of Cannabis sativa L. the same, Bush administration lawyers argue in asking U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland to throw out the case. The DEA says a review of the farmers’ applications is underway.

To clear up the popular confusion about the properties of what is sometimes called industrial hemp, the crop’s prospective purveyors explain that hemp and smokable marijuana share a genus and a species but are about as similar as rope and dope.

The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. While hemp typically contains 0.3 percent THC, the leaves and flowers coveted by pot smokers have 5 percent or more, sometimes up to 30 percent.

“You could smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole,” Hague said of hemp, “and it’s not going to provide you with a high.”

Experts on the subject say a headache is far more likely than a buzz.

In the small town of Ray, N.D., Hauge said people — his friends, mostly — make cracks.

“Usually it’s something about whether or not the DEA is going to arrest me or if my phone is being tapped,” Hauge said. “It’s kind of difficult to provoke me. I’m also a CPA, and I have had a tax practice in Ray for 25 years. I was an EMT for 18 years. And I’m not a person who smokes. I don’t smoke anything. I exercise a lot and I’m pretty healthy.”

David Bronner is a vegan California businessman who uses hemp oil to make his Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap richer and smoother. He touts hemp milk as a challenger to soy and adds hemp seeds, full of Omega-3 fatty acids, to a snack bar called Alpsnack.

He says the hulled seeds look like sesame seeds and taste like pine nuts.

Bronner’s company spends about $100,000 a year importing 10,000 pounds of hemp oil and 10,000 pounds of seeds from Canada. To do so, he first had to win a federal court battle with the Justice Department, which tried to ban the imports. One of his arguments was the prevalence and popularity of the crop elsewhere.

“In Canada and Europe, where industrial hemp is grown, no one is trying to smoke it and the sky is not falling,” said Bronner, president of the Hemp Industries Association, a trade group. Likening hemp seeds to marijuana, he said, is like equating poppy seeds with opium.

Hauge is joined by Monson, a Republican state legislator who helped pass a law in 1999 that would permit hemp cultivation and establish limits to ease the federal government’s worries. They have the backing of Vote Hemp, an advocacy organization, and state Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson, who personally delivered paperwork to the DEA in February on the farmers’ behalf.

In a lengthy March 5 letter to DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy, Johnson quoted a university professor’s conclusion that under “the most fundamental principles of pharmacology, it can be shown that it is absurd, in practical terms, to consider industrial hemp useful as a drug.”

That’s how Tim Purdon sees it. He is a Bismarck lawyer for Hauck and Monson.

“Some people call me up with the idea that my clients and myself are some sort of marijuana legalization effort,” Purdon said. “My clients are farmers. They are looking for a crop they can make money on in the tough business of being a family farmer.”

Hauge is feeling optimistic. He has signed up for a hemp cultivation seminar in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It starts Friday.

70 years of failed cannabis prohibition in USA

Hemp farmers

Thanks to Hemp Ed in Pe Ell who reminds us that everyone should take note of the significance of Oct. 2nd.

Indeed, October 2, 2006 was the dubious anniversary of 70 years hassle when unemployed Colorado laborer Samuel R. Caldwell was arrested for selling two marijuana cigarettes to Moses Baca and became the first federal marijuana arrest. For his crime, he was sentenced to four years of hard labor at Leavenworth Penitentiary, plus a $1,000 fine.

Hemp Ed says, “This was a bad day for America, and has lead to the arrest and incarceration of 10 of millions of Americans, and opened the door to far more reaching invasive laws into all our freedoms. When will the madness end?”

Not anytime soon it seems as 2006 set a new high (heh) for cannabis arrests. NORML kicks down some opinion and factoids in a stylish chart documenting the debacle.

Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director {give Mr. St Pierre a ring at (202) 483-5500} concluded in NORML’s report: “Crimes of Indiscretion: Marijuana Arrests in the United States,” that:

“Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers between $10 billion and $12 billion annually and has led to the arrest of nearly 20 million Americans. Nevertheless, some 94 million Americans acknowledge having used marijuana during their lives. It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals for their use of a substance that poses no greater – and arguably far fewer – health risks than alcohol or tobacco. A better and more sensible solution would be to tax and regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco.”

MARIJUANA ARRESTS BY YEAR
US Marijuana Arrests 1965-2006

Producer of Marihuana tax stamp.Obligatory Wikipedia snippet from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1937_Marihuana_Tax_Act

In the United States, the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, Pub. 238, 75th Congress, 50 Stat. 551 (Aug. 2, 1937), was one of the cornerstone bills that led to the criminalization of cannabis. It was introduced to U.S. Congress by Harry Anslinger, then Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

The act did not itself criminalize the possession or usage of cannabis, but levied a tax equaling roughly one dollar on anyone who dealt commercially in marijuana. It did, however, include penalty provisions. Violations of proper procedure could result in a fine of up to $2000 and five years’ imprisonment. The net effect was to make it too risky for anyone to deal in the substance.

 

Message to the Highlands!

Dopefiend and I enjoyed recording Midnight Riverside Joint with the Dopefiend – Choogle on #51 so much that we brewed up a custom message for Queer Ninja after listening to The Sounds of World Wide Weed 38 where he offers discourse on the meaning of choogle and rocking out some CCR among other hilarity and positive vibes.

Dopefiend.co.uk

Laugh along with Message to Queer Ninja from Uncle Weed and Dopefiend (.mp3, 3:36, 5MB)

Midnight Riverside Joint

Purple Kush testing episode reaches new err … highs

[cross-posted from Choogle on Forum at The Grow Report]

I usually have little problem spieling on about cannabis or whatever related topic – even while taking a walk or on the seabus and shockingly, i am almost always coherent. Well, in the Purple Kush testing episode, i break my loquacious tradition and stumble along in a debilitated state of speechlessness after joints, vaporizers and hookahs of my beloved homegrown bud.

This almost went into the “lost tapes” pile but Queer Ninja’s adamant request encouraged me to dig it out and dust it off.

Glorious Purple Kush Testing Sessions Choogle on #49

Cousin Herb joins me for two testing sessions (one early in the cure and one later when the bud is perfect) and the second features me drooling on about a recent dentist visit and the struggle to toke with a frozen mouth along with some anecdotes about my horrible job hanging the Christmas lights.

While this one may not make it on the “Greatest Hits” album, you may love it and feel the cold Canadian winter being warmed with the finest herb.

Next up posting Thursday 4:20 PST as Dopefiend and I roast out on my porch, entitled Interrogating a Russian Over Drinks” – not too weedy but I do ask “everything you ever wanted to ask a Russian but were afraid to ask.”

… and in episode #51 is the long awaited Hemp for Victory interview with authour Kenyon Gibson – i wanted to make sure to collect lots of relevant links and notes to give this amazing book the attention it deserves.

Meanwhile be sure to check out Kenyon’s blog “Hemp for Victory” for news and opinions on hemp in the UK and around the world.

Dopefiend Forums now Choogle-fied

Zandor of the Grow Report along with Dopefiend and the tribe over at Dopefiend.co.uk are barn raising a big, shmancy forum at the Grow Report for the cult-like fanbase to unite in conversation around the world. They set up me up with my own big tent for the Chooglers to hang out in.

Still life with weed In case you haven’t noticed, the Dopefiend Network are rolling out the podcast goodness like a veritable indie-BBC with an international mix of top-notch shows from the op-ed, news-i-fied Dopecast, giggle-fied Queer Ninja, the psyched-pundit Max Freakout, your instant barstool buddy Lefty plus the aforementioned Zandor’s Grow Report (key for med growers) plus Black Bettie’s show on the way.

‘Tis fantastic to see Dopefiend’s earnest vibes people catalyze the chatting and interacting – his shows allows a sterling means of expression for many enthusiastic stoners and i am glad to be along for the ride.

So you’d best choogle on by and offer your opinions on whatever you got to spiel on.

Baseball, Birthdays, Fireworks, Transit, Grateful Dead, Creative Commons and Geek Fests

Dan resting on Ice Throne

Twas my brother Funboy’s birthday as well as Jerry Garcia‘s birthday, so i took a half-dayer to go see a Vancouver Canadians game at the tuned-up Nat Bailey stadium (and saw the curling rink under construction nearby).

jerry garcia stuff

The ballclub didn’t answer my request for free tix (since i am big shot sports podcaster and all) but the $8/ea. didn’t kill me. Beers $6 – choice of Granville Island Pale or Lager (Pale is better methinks).

The baseball game vs. Everett Aqua Sox featured sloppy defense, a grand slam, many runs, a big comeback and a loss to the homers in extra innings. The park is much improved with art, paint and moved in fences. The treed backdrop is a classic. The blogging Bollwits (Miss 604 and AudiHertz) were there too working on tans/burns while waiting for hockey season to start.

Miss 604 talked tenderly of their relations 99% of Champions over at Duane’r the drinkin’ codr’s blog (featuring crazy hyper-real HDR photos) and discourse on appropriate use under CC – Creative Commons, Flickr and You.

I’ll see them all at the upcoming Vancouver BAR Camp – which has something to do with drinking but not much to do about a bar per se. Unconference geekfest is what it is. Bring your own idea and $20 if you want a shirt (i don’t). I have a big idea i had best get writing about. – the Urban Vancouver TV Show – i have a smaller idea too … a “let’s write Wikipedia entries for one another’s companies/personalbrand” kinda powwow – signup! to participate in some documentary activity – while carefully avoiding conflict of interest.

Also coming up is Gnomedex (though my upcoming agenda is nothing like Krugger’s madcamp geek tour with Scales the international man of mysterious skills. Whenever i think of Gnomedex, (I’ll try not to tear up here, sniff, sniff) I think about the outstanding people i meet there (followed by the fine food and great partying), notably my amigos from Bryght who are *always* ready to brew up some activity no matter the topic as long as it touches on how tech effects the human social condition.

Though Gnomedex is gratefully not on Canada Day this year, there will be a strong Canadian vibe with Darren Barefoot and Derek K Miller making contributions. Bowen Island’s Boris always has something to say the boris wishes to speak + ace technologist Roland (who did an interview with Len Edgerly that is worth a listen) who was such a mighty force for citizen media goodness during the Canucks playoff run.

I am also eager to hear Rand Fishkin – an SEO wiz from Seattle – I follow that kinda search stuff somewhat for my day-job.

Another Bryght guy Richard Eriksson is posting up a nice variety of topics i care about (and his subtle sense of humor cuts through the cutesy-asian decor ;-)): podcasting, bc transit and asking people to do stuff for ya.

I commented on his recent list of podcasts he listens to (thankfully including the Canucks Outsider (hosted by Bryght) but seems I haven’t enticed him to subscribe to the Choogle on or Postcards from Gravelly Beach feeds yet (acquired taste i suppose).

Anyhow, I commented about Cory Doctorow (who i go on and on about him in The Totalitarian Urge on Now Public from his spiel at SFU) (he also spoke at Gnomedex 05)’s podcast, Craphound podcast. In particular Cory’s recent lecture at UC Irvine talk on copyright and trade policy episode is brilliant commentary – so good i listened twice while rolling on tranist. Decent audio quality too (many audience recordings are well intentioned but hardly listenable) – maybe Cory could bring an M-Audio Microtrack and a decent mic and non-bootleg his own lectures for the Craphound podcast?

cory doctorow at sfu vancouver Anyhow, here’s what i had to say about Cory on Richard’s Podcasts, In Various States of ‘Listened-to’ and ‘Unlistened-to’ (easier just to paste cause i am at work yo!):

I would add a hearty recommendation for Cory Doctorow’s Craphound podcast. His feed includes a weekly show with him catching up on his exploits and then reading from his or someone else’s book – currently Bruce Sterling’s critical tome “The Hacker Crackdown” plus bakes in his various interviews at colleges, universities, radioshows, writer groups, etc. He is wicked smart on a wide variety of topics from global economics to quantum physics.

If there is a Cory Doctorow fan club, i wouldn’t join it, i’d make my own using the creative commons fan club license and then give away memberships (which do not require providing names or other identifying info) and then send the non-records to space in a Buckley’s cold medicine powered time capsule.

Of course Cory talks much about Copyright/Creative commons and how to bridge that into a business model (again some KK talks about with his fashion photography). One underused example (which i brought up on Roland’s Dogma Radio a while ago) of community driven, non-fascist, conscious capitalism business model in the creative space is the aforementioned Grateful Dead. They were successful both artistically and financially to say the least.

They ran their own label (with varying degrees of success), promoted on tours and produced dozens of spin-offs with different bands (JGB, Ratdog, Mystery Box, Phil and Friends …) before and after Jerry’s demise. Most importantly, they allowed fans to record shows resulting in a comprehensive musical record of their long, strange trip. The tapes could be traded but not sold. The anti-Metallica.

jerry and lads (and barn)

Use of band photos got a bit more dubious as did non-licensed t-shirts, … at some venues, security thugs would take offense and seize merchandise for sale (or hassle the people using the “donation” excuse) but this wasn’t necessarily the view of the band, instead overzealous promoters etc. but that’s a different story …

Grateful Dead was the first Internet search i did when i got online in Guam. Jerry had just died and at the impromptu candlelight vigil, i met some guys who had all the low-down on how and where, why etc. … this info was hard to source in a distant rock … turned out they worked for the largest Micronesian newspaper and had the Internet. Whoa dude. The Internet.

bob and dave at starsand private beach club, guam, circa 1995 The local Guam ISP offered a “learn how to Internet” class and after learning about Trumpet Winsock and Gopher, I loaded up Dead.net over the 14.4kbps modems thousands away from any servers or backbone … then the power went out (brown tree snakes often curl up and gnaw at the lines resulting in a dead snake and spontaneous bar-b-ques to use up thawing meats).

Anyhow, I am now Uncle Weed at the all-new, wicked shiny and deluxe drupal-ized Dead.net.

Lots to do here: mark shows you attended for starters and explore the careful documentation of each setlist over a mighty history. Roll yer own account and hook up with people you actually have something in common with – collect photos of shows you were at, share ones you got, stoke out your show collection and indulge in reminiscing about veggie burritos, buses fulla hippie chicks and scarfing Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout and oranges after a 3-1/2 hours show in some state you’ve never been before (mentally and physically). Highest ratings indeed.

Grteful Dead at Shoreline Aug 16 1991
(Dead lot in Shoreline Amphitheatre – August 16, 1991 – think that’s my Earthship in the center)
Photo by

Finally, I started in on a lengthy spiel about local transit (i wanna love transit, i really do) inspired in part by the dialogue around Dave Olsen’s Tyee series about Free Transit and Darren Barefoot’s gutcheck reply and partly because my inefficient commute from North Van to the Cambie and Broadway conflagration.Rolling Transit Museum

In the meantime, here is a couple of comments i left at Paying for ‘Free’ Transit which will suffice – for the time being at least.

Part One:

The “other Dave Olson” here chiming in with another example of free transit.

Indeed my (almost doppleganger) Dave Olsen was wise to look outside the country for positive examples of transit in action which can be found in the oddest of places.

While free transit (and quality transit in general) is oft looked at as a leftie-liberal utopian dream and conservative are wont to roll eyes and think of transit as the transport of the destitute and lazy, the “most conservative” city in America (that I’ve found anyhow) rolls the free buses and manages to do it clean and happily. Really.

Logan, Utah – where the hair is big and the trucks are bigger – is a university town (Utah State has 20K+ students) with only 2 bars (both closed on Sundays), a gleaming Mormon temple, a row of box stores, malls and fast food that even Surrey would envy, almost no crime and a massive police force (i know first hand ;-)).

There is little/no ecological bent whatsoever – the kids still rev engines and cruise Main on Saturday night and recycling means eating leftover casserole. Yet these hard-sells bought into free transit and – from the parents to the drinkers – love it. Go there and ask.

Part Two

While I think free transit is a hard sell here, I would settle for a few improvements like clean buses (both exhaust and interior), customer-friendly drivers (I am talking to you on the 15!), and schedules posted at each stop (shelter would be nice too, it does rain here Virginia).

A little tinkering with technology would go a long way for the rider’s experience too – i.e. a website with some semblance of usability and SMS “next bus” service (some SFU students are doing this I believe). Realtime announcements at stops (like in London) would be nice too but I won’t hold my breath.

As for price, a roll back of fares which make it more affordable to ride than drive for starters. Say a loonie a ride. Now, if I wanna take the wife and boy downtown and back, I can roll transit for about $20 or drive for $3 of gas + pay to park and still come out ahead (I do roll transit anyhow despite being packed shoulder to shoulder with wet strangers whilst bounding across Lion’s Gate).

Also, as a monthly pass buyer, I do not understand the erstwhile availability limits (imagine my audacity trying to get a pass on July 2nd! Took 4 stops to find one) and the “discounted” faresavers are a joke too.

Finally (rant almost done – more on my blog) enough testing and thinking about it already – Get some new buses! We are often riding the same decaying sleds as we did in the 1980s when Vancouver was deemed North America’s best transit system. Well it ain’t now.

For the record, i grew up in Whalley (well before Skytrain) and the 316/312 was my escape pod from a crappy Jr. Secondary school to my beloved downtown. I ride transit 2-3 hours a day now and visited the rolling transit museum (geeky I know). I also own a car which i use for roadtrip – and the traditional bi-annual trip to Ikea of course.

I’ve traveled to 20+ countries and ride public conveyance most everywhere I go from Guam to Japan to Amsterdam and beyond. Translink needs help fast in order cease ghettoizing the humble and noble transit rider who should be celebrated not passed-by (like i was this morning while heading to the instersection of chaos of Cambie and Broadway … but that’s another rant, one about rider safety!).

This weekend will involve a visit to the Powell Street Festival celebrating Japanese Canadian culture plus the fireworks finale on Saturday which we’ll watch from the semi-secret spot. The Province has a (rare) good article about Vancouver’s Top Ten hikes, swims, paddles, skateparks etc. which is worth keeping handy in your ‘stuff to do’ stash.

This weekend is also Pride weekend in Vancouver so don’t be surprised at all the buttless chaps (not to be confused with the world naked bike ride last week). BTW, we cannabis legalization advocates could learn a lot about “coming out” from the queerfolk.

Finally, finally … a few shots from a quick trip to Dundarave to watch China’s go at the fireworks – the sightlines were as great for photos this time but China’s show was top notch as you’d likely expect.

Chinese Fireworks in Vancouver from Dundarave Chinese Fireworks in Vancouver from Dundarave Chinese Fireworks in Vancouver from Dundarave Chinese Fireworks in Vancouver from Dundarave

Another Choogle out the Door – This one with Vaporizers

Condition Green! High likelihood of vaporization in Choogle on #43 Happy Sunday with the Vappy Man – Choogle on #43 featuring a visit to Happy Vappy’s designer and entrepreneur Ferdinand at his workshop in commercial East Vancouver to discuss reasons for using a herbal vaporizer for enjoy ganja as well as his inspiration for his business, new improvements to the Happy Vappy, why the Vappy is handy for medical patients, what’s up with convection and temperature control plus useful Vaporizer use and maintenance tips.

Choogle on with Uncle Weed - Happy Sunday with the Vappy Man

HAPPYVAPPY IS…

Smoke-free
The medicinal qualities of herbs can be released without burning. This means that you can avoid the carcinogenic tars and noxious gases found in smoke. Using patent pending Tempest Core Technology, HappyVappy brings your herb to optimal vaporization temperature, providing you with all the positive effect of herbal therapy, without the negative effects of smoking.

Efficient
HappyVappy uses less herb than traditional means of consumption. You get bigger breath for your buck as it’s not going up in smoke.

Discreet
HappyVappy has streamlined styling, a simple interface and fits into your lifestyle. Because it’s a vaporizer, it’s also virtually odorless.

Effective
It reaches operating temperature in 3 minutes, with no bag or dome to fill. HappyVappy is designed to stay at optimal temperature, so you don’t have to worry about dials or overheating or anything other than kicking back and relaxing.

UN Reports Points out Canada’s abundant (responsible) Cannabis use

United Nations World Drug Report 2007 – Cannabis (.pdf)

Been meaning to write about this but instead, here is some snippets from Rebecca Dube (how is that pronounced?)’s article in the big fancy newspaper from TO. Proud to be doing my part.

globeandmail.com: The true North, stoned and free

REBECCA DUBE
From July 16, 2007 Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Canada is a nation of stoners. According to the United Nations’ 2007 World Drug Report released last week, Canadians lead the industrialized world in marijuana smoking. Canadians are four times more likely to have smoked pot in the past year than residents of nearly every other country: 16.8 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 64 use marijuana, compared to a global average of 3.8 per cent.

<snip>

Some pot smokers, however, say Canada’s high rate of recreational use is not because we’re a nation of slackers, but merely a side effect of the country’s go-getter work ethic. Canadians work hard and, unlike Europeans, don’t get 10 weeks of vacation or two-hour lunches – so we find other ways to unwind.

“You’re putting in way too many hours at work, you just want to go out and relax,” says one recreational user, a business owner and married father of three who smokes pot several times a month. Marijuana, he explains, allows busy professionals to “maximize your leisure time.”

“You go to a bar, you’re hanging out with friends – if you’re stoned, everybody’s funnier,” he says. “If you’re not sure about a movie? Get high, you’ll like it better.”

United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime 2007 World Drug Report

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Greeks rocking the Hempseed like the Japanese

The unique chunk of knowledge i add to the collective consciousness of all things cannabis is the comprehensive documentation of the practical history of hemp use in Japan.

Much of my research came in field – meaning living with people in the hills (Tottori, Nagano) and learning the oral history from them while harvesting crops (mostly rice) and walking in the hills (mostly in search of matsutake), while other info comes from scouring literature, art and history texts and sometimes it’s just a matter of reflecting new light on a passage from a book or a new interpretation of a cave painting.

In meeting with other hempsters over the years (see HempenRoad photos from Vancouver Commercial Industrial hemp Sympoisum 1998), i’ve found similarities from other cultures in the ways seeds, stalk and leaf were used in traditional ways. This “people’s history” passed along a folklore and custom is often the key to finding out the ways the cultures actually lived rather than the filtered views of the human condition permeated by the propagandists and text book writers. Learn from the Grammas!

Via the quotable Malta-resident, D. Barefoot, I came across a wee reference of the use of hemp seed in ancient Greece in The Histories of Herodotus of Halicarnassus written in 440 BCE.db serves it up his post Herodotus on The Wacky Tabacky with a bit of humour – from which i shall refrain – and instead lay out a couple of translations for the record to set up a bit of juxtaposition between the old-timey Greeks and Japanese.

Here's an old Grandma in the hills of japan

First, the translation Darren offers up (no edition cited):

Now they have a wild hemp in their country like flax, except that the hemp grows taller and stouter by far [goes on to explain how it makes good cloth].

The Scythians, then, take the seed of this hemp, and creeping under the felt covering of the tent they throw the seed on the stones glowing with the heat from the fire, and there it smolders and makes such a steam as no vapour-bath in Greece could surpass, and the steam makes the Scythians howl for joy.

And here is the other translation he references from MIT’s Internet Classics Archive version of The History of Herodotus, this one translated by George Rawlinson [and running a little longer to give some more context]:

Such, then, is the mode in which the kings are buried: as for the people, when any one dies, his nearest of kin lay him upon a waggon and take him round to all his friends in succession: each receives them in turn and entertains them with a banquet, whereat the dead man is served with a portion of all that is set before the others; this is done for forty days, at the end of which time the burial takes place. After the burial, those engaged in it have to purify themselves, which they do in the following way. First they well soap and wash their heads; then, in order to cleanse their bodies, they act as follows: they make a booth by fixing in the ground three sticks inclined towards one another, and stretching around them woollen felts, which they arrange so as to fit as close as possible: inside the booth a dish is placed upon the ground, into which they put a number of red-hot stones, and then add some hemp-seed.

Hemp grows in Scythia: it is very like flax; only that it is a much coarser and taller plant: some grows wild about the country, some is produced by cultivation: the Thracians make garments of it which closely resemble linen; so much so, indeed, that if a person has never seen hemp he is sure to think they are linen, and if he has, unless he is very experienced in such matters, he will not know of which material they are.

The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed, and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapour as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy, and this vapour serves them instead of a water-bath; for they never by any chance wash their bodies with water. Their women make a mixture of cypress, cedar, and frankincense wood, which they pound into a paste upon a rough piece of stone, adding a little water to it. With this substance, which is of a thick consistency, they plaster their faces all over, and indeed their whole bodies. A sweet odour is thereby imparted to them, and when they take off the plaster on the day following, their skin is clean and glossy.

Going back to Japan, significantly, hemp is used a symbol of purity in various Shinto (the pagan-ish, animistic quasi-religion) rites (i.e. emperor coronations) as well as Buddhist ceremonies (funerals) in Japan – this is not news per se but seems like an eerily similarity of reverence for this plant between the the two cultures – occurring in different areas at different times with no (as far as we know) cultural exchange.

Here’s are a couple of snippet from my research on Hemp Culture in Japan:

In another old tradition, rooms of worship were purified by burning hemp leaves by the entrance. This would invite the spirits of the departed, purify the room and encourage people to dance. An account of this event states: “On the first evening fires of hemp leaves are lighted before the entrance of the house, and incense strewed on the coals, as an invitation to the spirits. At the end of the three days the food that has been set out for the spirits is wrapped up in mats and thrown into a river. Dances of a peculiar kind are a conspicuous feature of the celebration, which is evidently an old Japanese custom.” (Moore).

The Japanese wound paths around their country as they travelled long distances for salt, enlightenment and pilgrimages. In olden times, these wandering pilgrims and traveling believers were obliged to leave an offering of rice and hemp leaves to the path-side phallic-fertility statues of the Sahe no Kami (protective deities) before embarking on a journey.

“These deities were represented by phalli, often of gigantic size, which were set up along highways and especially at cross roads to bar the passage against malignant beings who sought to pass . . . Standing as they did on the roadside and at cross-roads, these gods became the protectors of the wayfarers; travellers prayed to them before setting out on a journey and made a little offering of hemp leaves and rice to each one they passed.” (Moore)

{note: Moore. Religions of Japan by George Foot Moore. 1913. quoted after: http://www.calyx.net/~schaffer/hemp/hemprefs.html}

Japanese Graves

Seems to me the people in times past were no doubt more tuned into the power of plants and indeed went to great lengths to find out what the strengths and sources of the plants were and how they could use these characteristics to enhance their lives (medicine, mediation, clothing, sustenance). Somehow though, these customs grew taboo and this historical plant is singled out as a scourge and much human potential has been squandered on the enforcement against the cultivation and use of recreational, religious and industrial use. Remember, this illicitness is a modern phenomenon.

Did the Greeks know something about tolerance and joy that is lost on the modern world? Were the Japanese onto some ability of the hemp plant that modern world has forgotten? I, wonder. Do you?