Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More Signs That Pot May Not Be Good For History

More Signs That Pot May Not Be Good For History

One of the many self-righteous comments at that article of mine was this:
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson occasionally exchanged “hemp smoking mixtures”.
“Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda,
smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.”
- Thomas Jefferson
August 7, 1765: “–began to seperate (sic) the Male from the Female Hemp at Do–rather too late.”
- George Washington (from his diaries)
I’ve searched for all occurrences of “hemp” in the Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress. There is no such quote from Jefferson, and only six references to hemp, all concerning its commercial use for rope. Nor is there any reference to the phrase “hemp smoking” in the George Washington Papers. Washington certainly did separate the male from female hemp plants, but at 1:340 in The Diaries of George Washington, the notes explain:

HEMP: Cannabis sativa, a highly profitable fiber crop, providing work in the off-season. After the 1720–22 sessions, the General Assembly offered a bounty of 4s. for every “gross hundred” of hemp, water-rotted, bright, and clean, to encourage production (HENING, 4:96–97). GW speaks of separating the male and female plants. “This may arise from their [the male] being coarser, and the stalks larger” (CALENDAR [1], 457). In the 1790s he experimented with a variety from India.

Got that? Not to smoke them. (One sex, I guess, is preferable for smoking.)

Some guy named Bill Perron's comment was a worship of marijuana that almost reads like a joke:
Wait there is more, hemp is also a fantastic food, has all the essential amino and fatty acids the body needs in a very easily digestible form. Both Washington and Jefferson farmed hemp, Ben Franklin published his newspapers on hemp, Betsy Ross made our first flag from hemp, Guttenberg printed his bibles on hemp, and both the U. S. CONSTITUTION and DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE were written on hemp. Anything that can be made from wood or petroleum can be produced better and cheaper from hemp. Our country needs new home grown industries, hemp grows in all fifty states, it can help to save the forests, clean our air, create new industries and hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
I'm waiting to see the 2x4s made of hemp. Perhaps if you smoke enough of it, you can persuade yourself that the house stands up, instead of falling over.

UPDATE: And I think it does some harm to the software responsible for searches in books.google.com! I searched for the word "marijuana" in books published before 1920, and a surprisingly large number of the matches are actually to the name "Marquand." How do you get software stoned?

UPDATE 2: Of course, as a reader points out, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are written on parchment, not hemp. Hemp-based paper was widely used into the 20th century, and was very high quality paper--but hemp good for fiber is generally not so good for getting high, and vice versa.

No comments:

Post a Comment