Hemp - American History Revisited

Robert Deitch, Author Algora Publishing $23.95 (244p) ISBN 978-0-87586-205-7
Deitch's hemp-centric tour of American history cultivates two aspects of the plant: the economic, in which hemp was used to produce rope, sails, paper and a multitude of other products, and the psychoactive, i.e., marijuana. Citing Carl Sagan, Deitch suggests that ""civilization may well have started with the cultivation of Cannabis."" And if he prudently casts hemp's role in the founding of civilization as speculative, he confidently attributes the colonization of America, not to Puritan religious disaffection but to the needs of Britain's ""domestic hemp-based industry, the lifeblood of the economy, [that] separately needed a stable, reliable, and relatively cheap source of raw hemp."" On the lighter side, Deitch opines that as the evidence of apple orchards planted by the legendary Johnny Appleseed are slight, ""Chances are, it wasn't apple seeds Johnny was planting, but intoxicating Cannabis seeds."" While hemp's role in history is Deitch's focal point, he offers a substantial discussion of the temperance movement and Prohibition, which, in a contrarian mode, he suggests, caused the Great Depression. Deitch's treatment of the economics of hemp is original, or at least imaginative. Less original is his argument that it is folly to prohibit the recreational and medical use of marijuana. His account features familiar villains: Harry Anslinger, the notorious Federal Bureau of Narcotics anti-marijuana zealot, and various other militants in the government's war on drugs, who Deitch says have distorted and misrepresented facts in imposing a fatally flawed marijuana policy. Deitch is an L.A.-based writer and activist for medical marijuana. His passion for his subject and the radical version of its history, despite its excesses and idiosyncrasies, is also entertaining. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 243 pages - 978-0-87586-226-2
Hardcover - 232 pages - 978-0-87586-206-4 - 978-0-87586-206-4
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