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Environmental Consultation Document

Don Barnard


Friday 27 Nov 1998


Response to
Braintree District Council's Quality of Life consultation document,
with particular reference to environmental, economic, medical and law
and order issues


THE Quality of Life (QOL) document specifically asks of the Braintree
district's residents: "What are the most important local issues to you?"
It asks what has been left out and if anyone has any answers to the
challenges we face.
I believe the most relevant issue not included in QOL is the
Government's attitude to legalisation of the cannabis plant.
This is a local issue, as I hope to demonstrate below. Cannabis sativa
hemp, were we allowed to grow it free of restrictions, would help us
improve our environment and our local economy.
Below I want to give some background - a potted history? - and then
suggest some ways to proceed.

Finding answers today - the challenge of sustainability

HUMAN beings, like all living creatures, have a survival instinct.
Unlike most creatures, however, we can exert a great deal of control
over our own destiny.
When dinosaurs became extinct, it was not due to any action of their
own but because they were victims of climatic changes.
Now our own industries are causing environmental and climatic changes
which may in turn lead to our own extinction. But unlike the dinosaurs,
we have a chance to avoid this impending peril.
We tend to view the problems of ozone destruction, global warming, and
the accumulation of toxic chemicals in water, soil and atmosphere as
comparatively remote issues.
We find it hard to visualise the extent to which ecological breakdown
will affect our lives on a day-to-day basis. We are blinded by our
complacent acceptance of dangerously outmoded beliefs and values.
What we fail to acknowledge is that all our present environmental
problems have one thing in common: our demand for energy to make our
energy-consuming goods, by any means possible. We do not take the long-
term view.
But it has not always been like this. Until comparatively recently,
people recycled almost everything and wasted as little as possible.
Most goods were made with natural, organic materials that automatically
recycled safely into the soil.
Today, the industrial revolution has led to a level of consumerism
unparalleled in human history - a throwaway society with a hidden price
tag - the cumulative devastation of the environment.
In a sustainable future, we need to see local production meeting local
needs. At present, we are over-dependent on national and international
trade, and from an environmental point of view, this poses us many

Pollution from transportation

BY producing raw materials for industry locally we reduce the need for
transportation of goods around the world.
This transportation on which we currently depend involves heavy
consumption of fossil fuels, non-renewable resources which have been
shown to contribute greatly to the greenhouse effect, and are believed
to harm the health of humans, other animals, and plants alike.
The petrochemical age as a whole has seen an increasing dependence on
international trade, encouraging a continuing trend away from self-

Loss of economic accountability

LOSS of economic accountability is another pernicious effect of reliance
on international trade.
Imported goods are often produced using social and environmental
practices which would be illegal in the UK.
Take the cotton industry. Although cotton is grown in only three per
cent of the world's fields, between 11 and 15 per cent of the world's
pesticides are used on them.
In the CIS, The Aral Sea has shrunk to half its former size - largely
because many of its feeder rivers have had much of their water diverted
to irrigate cotton crops.
As a result, the climate and ecology of the region has been irrevocably
altered and the local fishing industry has been decimated.
There are even suggestions from doctors in the region that increased
rates of cancer in the region are due to what has been dubbed "pesticide
In effect, consumers buying cotton clothing in the UK are unwittingly
condoning these practices and keeping those that perpetrate them in
business - because economic accountability has been lost.
The average buyer of cotton products in the UK is simply unaware of the
environmental costs associated with them.
Another example: if asked to choose a paper or plastic bag, we are faced
with an environmental dilemma: paper from trees that were cut down, or
plastic bags made from fossil fuels and chemicals.
With a third alternative available - hemp hurd paper or hemp blend
papers - one could choose a biodegradable, durable paper from an
annually renewable source. But at present cannabis prohibition renders
this scenario impossible.
Lost economic accountability is a bleak scenario, replicated countless
times across the global economy.
How do we get the message home? Every time we take a bite of food or a
drink of water we suffer from the associated environmental damage, and
every time we indulge in these activities we contribute to them. Nearly
every one of us every day contribute to destruction of our environment.


THE answer to our problems is clear: we must reduce our volume of waste
(all too often merely excess packaging), return to using biodegradable
raw materials that can be recycled or safely discarded, produce energy
in an environmentally-friendly manner, and make use of any waste which
we cannot help but generate.
Consumers must be made aware of the damage and impact their every day
purchases have on the environment both local and worldwide.
I believe that people are interested in building a secure future; they
just don't know how to go about doing it. Most are so engrossed in the
chores of everyday life that to them environment issues have almost
become abstract. They are simply not aware how their everyday life is
inflicting harm on the environment and their community.
As the UN has discovered, enforcing human rights globally is far from
The most practical way to improve economic accountability and to
promote sustainability is to increase local production of consumed
History of hemp - origins of use

HISTORICAL evidence of hemp use dates back as far as 8000BC. From 1000BC
to 1883AD (almost 3,000 years) hemp was the planet's largest
agricultural crop, and produced the majority of the earth's fibre,
fabric, lighting, oil, paper, and medicine.
It was also a primary source of essential oils, food and protein for
humans and animals.
Cannabis probably originated in southern Asia, but it was widely
cultivated in England until production costs in British-controlled India
priced local growers out of the market.
As the name suggests, Hampshire was once a traditional area of hemp-

Some Historical Uses

THE British Empire was founded on hemp. Ninety per cent of all ships'
sails and virtually all the rigging, nets, rope, flags, shrouds and
sealant was made from cannabis. It was also the material from which
sailors' clothes, shoes and stitching was made from. During the reign of
George III, it was actually compulsory to grow hemp in England.
In the USA up to 1820, 80 per cent of all textiles and fabrics for
clothes, linen, rugs, drapes, quilts, sheets, towels and nappies were
hemp-based. Levi jeans were originally made from hemp.
The magazine Popular Mechanics in 1938 stated: "Hemp is the standard
fibre of the world. It has great tensile strength and durability. It is
used to produce more than 5,000 textile products, ranging from rope to
fine lace, and the woody 'hurds' remaining after the fibre has been
removed contain more than 77 per cent cellulose, and can be used to
produce more than 25,000 products ranging from dynamite to cellophane."

UNTIL 1883, between 75-90 per cent of paper was made from cannabis
fibre: books, maps, bibles, paper money, stocks, bonds, and newspapers
were all made from hemp. The American constitution was written on
cannabis hemp paper.
The Chinese used hemp for paper from the 1st century AD, and Europeans
have been using it for the same purpose since the 15th century. Hemp
paper outlasted papyrus by a factor of between 50 and 100 times and was
easier and cheaper to manufacture.
Nowadays, hemp paper is still the raw material for banknotes, because
it is more durable than tree-based paper.

UNTIL the early 1800s lighting oil made from hemp seed was the most
widely-used worldwide, and until the 1870s it was second only to whale
oil. Later it was eclipsed by new petroleum-based fuels like kerosene.

HEMP seed is one of the most nutritious sources of protein available to
For centuries hemp seed was an element of the basic diet of much of the
world's population, and this was true right up until the early years of
this century.

HEMP canvas was the raw material used by most of the great masters,
including Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Gainsborough. Oil paintings on hemp
canvases have remained in good condition for hundreds of years. Paints
and varnishes were also produced using hemp oil for thousands of years.
In 1937, testimony to the American Congress from the National Institute
of Oilseed Producers tells us that 58,000 tonnes of hemp seed was
consumed for this use alone each year.

What happened to hemp?

UNTIL 1879 cannabis hemp was the most-cultivated non-food crop on earth
and its fibre was the most-traded commodity.
Hemp production and growing then went into decline due to the
replacement of sail by steam power and also the lack of an efficient
hemp-processing machine, making hemp expensive on world markets.
Cheaper, though inferior fibres like jute, sisal and manila hemp were
produced by exploiting peasant labour in India and the Philippines. At
the same time, the invention of the cotton gin brought more and more
cotton onto the market.
Hemp's decline was halted in 1930 when an efficient processor, known as
a decorticator, was developed and it quickly became apparent that the
cannabis plant would again become a prominent crop in agriculture and
Why didn't this happen? By the end of the 1930s the multinational
pharmaceutical and petrochemical giant, DuPont, was gearing up to
release its new wonderfibre, Nylon.
DuPont had invested many millions of dollars into its development, and
with hemp suddenly poised to make a comeback, it became the new
synthetic fabric's main rival.
DuPont's banker Andrew Mellon - the head of Mellon bank and of the US
Treasury - was a close relative of Harry Anslinger, head of the FBI
Mr Anslinger turned his notoriously puritanical attention to dope
smoking at the end of the Prohibition era.
Both had an ally in Randolph Hearst's media chain, the main consumer of
woodpulp which had been chemically-treated using DuPont's products, and
the owners of the forests from whence the woodpulp originated.
The media chain began a campaign of disinformation against cannabis
hemp, which they renamed marijuana, then a little-known Mexican slang
Playing on racism and xenophobia, Hearst and Anslinger protected
Mellon's and DuPont's interests, spreading lies and fear about the
smoking of cannabis by "negroes, Mexicans and entertainers."
It wasn't long before the media as a whole jumped on the bandwagon and
almost overnight, marijuana became "the assassin of youth" and "a demon
drug" capable of inducing "reefer madness" in the most passive middle-
class white youth.
As a result, in 1938 the US Congress passed the Marijuana Transfer Tax
Act, quite unaware that what they were banning was hemp, a plant they
had been trading profitably for centuries.
Since then, cannabis has been smoked by disenfranchised youth as a
symbol of rebelliousness, creating a multi-million pound illegal black

A solution to our environmental problems - potential uses of locally-
grown cannabis hemp
(nb: This is by no means a comprehensive list, just some of the more
immediately obvious applications).

LOCALLY-grown and processed hemp can be extremely useful as different
parts of a single crop can be used for different products.
Its pulp can be used for paper and its long fibres for cloth. Its woody
core can form the raw constituents of particle board and other building
materials, and its seeds can be pressed to extract oils for food,
plastics, cosmetics and fuels.
Fibre crops such as hemp, being low in lignin and high in cellulose,
lend themselves well to small-scale processing, and new machinery makes
cultivation on any scale a viable economic option.
Hemp is a very beneficial crop. It can be grown over and over again on
the same piece of ground with no adverse effect on the soil.
Because most of its nitrogen content lies in the unharvested part of
the plant, it remains in the soil if the waste is used as a self-
Any crop will alternate with hemp, and its vigorous and thick growth
destroys weeds without the use of expensive herbicides.
It is naturally resistant to many plant diseases and is unaffected by a
wide range of insects, so the need for insecticides is reduced.

HIGH-quality paper can be made from cannabis pulp, and the material is
perfect for recycling, and can be used over and over again with little
deterioration in quality.
As a source for paper-making, hemp can be grown and harvested in three
to six months compared to 30 to 40 years for plantation trees.
It can produce twice to four times the fibre of wood chipping and
requires less chemical treatment in pulp form.
US Department of Agriculture research has documented that hemp can
produce four times more paper than forests. Hemp paper can be processed
without chlorine, so deadly dioxins are not produced.
At present, the UK and in fact the European Union as a whole has to
import a very large proportion of its fibre and paper.
Currently just five per cent of the UK's annual paper supply comes from
recycled sources. Using cannabis pulp as a paper source there is scope
to increase this figure massively.
There is an obvious market and opportunity for local production,
especially given that new EU directives require a significant reduction
in fields used for food cultivation.

A DEMAND for sustainably-produced textiles is helping fuel a revival in
hemp crops. Hemp is ideal for high-quality clothing because the fibres
which make up the plant are longer and therefore stronger than those
found in any other crop, including those in flax, cotton and even silk.
Cannabis can produce more than three times the fibre of cotton without
the need for intensive chemical treatment, and the crop requires half
the amount of water that cotton needs to grow.

ONE acre of hemp produces as much as four times the amount of cellulose
fibre as an acre of trees.
As such it is the perfect substitute for trees used to produce pressed
board, particle board and concrete formwork. These uses gobble up
tropical rainforests at an alarming and unsustainable rate.
The superior strength, flexibility and economy of hemp composite
building materials compared to wood fibre is well proven.
Recent developments in France have led to the rediscovery of
Isochanvre, a building material made from hemp hurd mixed with lime.
This actually petrifies into a mineral state and lasts for centuries.
Archaeologists have found a bridge in the South of France dating back
to the Merovignon period (500-751) constructed using this process.
When used a carpet backing, hemp provides a strong rot-resistant
material which is a perfect substitute for toxic or allergenic synthetic
materials. Hemp can also be used as the raw material for PVC plumbing
pipes, replacing petrochemical raw materials currently used.
Future houses may be totally built, plumbed and furnished with the
world's number one renewable resource: hemp.
In the 1930s there was a lot of research done on alternative materials
which could be used in car construction.
Hillman produced models in this country; in the USA, Henry Ford made a
car from hemp, sisal, and plastic emanating from wheat straw. There is a
great photo of him attacking the boot of the Hemp Ford with a
sledgehammer! The car withstood the pounding and remained dent-free.

HEMP seed can be pressed for its highly nutritious vegetable oil, which
contains the highest amount of natural fatty acids found anywhere in the
plant kingdom. The essential oils are needed by our immune system and
help lower blood pressure and clear arteries of cholesterol.
The byproduct of pressing the oil is a high protein seed cake which can
be ground and baked into bread, cakes or pies.
Hemp seed is a complete single food source for human nutrition. Hemp
does not produce as much protein as soya, but hemp seed protein is of a
higher quality.
Agriculture considerations make hemp the food crop of the future. In
addition to the fact that hemp is easy to grow, it also resists UV-B
light, a harmful kind of sun radiation blocked by the ozone layer. Soya
beans have a low resistance to UV-B light. If the ozone layer were to
deplete by around 16% in line with some predictions, soya production
would fall by 25-30%.

CANNABIS hemp seeds contain the highest Essential Fatty Acids of any
known plant. The oil of the seed contains only 8% saturated fats, one of
the lowest figures of any oil. No other plant source provides complete
protein in such an easily digestible form or contains the oils essential
to life in as perfect ratio to maintain health.
Because of various political factors, starving people in today's
underdeveloped countries are not taking advantage of this crop.
In some countries, government officials class cannabis hemp as a drug
and pull up the crop. In others, it is because the farmers are busy
growing cocoa and poppies to produce cocaine for drug lords. This is a
truly sad state of affairs!

THE case for using cannabis hemp as a widespread commercial crop is
being re-evaluated by farmers, Governments and businesses alike. I urge
you to look at the issues again yourselves.
Widespread cannabis cultivation and processing can improve the
environment, boost rural jobs, rejuvenate the agricultural sector and
create jobs and wealth in our local economy.
Hemp offers us a way to produce the raw materials for paper, clothing,
fuel and much else besides in an ecologically sound manner.
Due to the related problems of soil-degradation, toxic chemical build-up
and increased emissions of greenhouse gases, several countries around
the world are rediscovering hemp as an advantageous crop for the
production of paper, chemical-free clothing and many other products.
We see our future in terms of an integrated regional fibre production
industry reviving the traditional link between the paper and textiles,
helping the environment, and creating many other new businesses - and
new jobs - besides.
The "green" nature of hemp products make them easily marketable to an
increasingly environmentally-conscious consumer. Worldwide demand for
hemp greatly exceeds supply.
By making consumers aware of hemp products and their advantages we can
all encourage growth in this reborn industry.
The main losers would be the destructive and inefficient woodchip,
textile, pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries - the main
polluters of our planet on whom we currently depend.
The winners would be our farmers and the tens of thousands of people
employed in a flourishing and revived hemp industry - not to mention the
world's wildlife.
Non-wood fibre products could and should be used to provide a boost to
our rural sector, generate employment and help our balance of payments
problem, billions of pounds of which is accounted for by paper alone
each year.
Cannabis agriculture will assist in improving the quality of our soil
and help us to reduce the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, one of
the main causes of the greenhouse effect.
The profits from local hemp production would be returned to a
rejuvenated local economy, less vulnerable to the vagaries of the global
market, and able to play its part in reducing pressure on the world's
Cannabis hemp is again being grown in Hampshire, Essex, and other parts
of Britain under licence, but current law prohibits the free cultivation
of the plant.
It is time for contemporary society as a whole to rediscover the truth
about cannabis, its history and its potential to lead us out of the
petrochemical age.

Cannabis for fuel

OUR ever-growing energy and pollution crises are probably the most
serious and challenging man-made dangers we have ever faced. We all have
an active role to play in finding solutions.
We must cut back on pollution from energy production, which means
either an unlikely decrease in energy consumed or a serious change in
the resources presently used.
The Government is looking at some renewable sources of energy,
including solar power, wind and wave power. These methods of energy
production have already been proven elsewhere, are non-polluting, would
create jobs, and if pursued properly would probably cost no more than
our power production methods, and perhaps less.
All the above have a part to play but they cannot completely solve our
energy crisis on their own. I believe more serious attention should be
given to the use of biomass as an energy source.
At present cannabis is illegal to grow without a licence. If we
genuinely want to find ecologically-friendly answers, this has to


UP to 90 per cent of the fossil fuels we use today could and should be
replaced by biomass fuels. Using a process called pyrolisis, plant
material can be converted into methanol.
In order to produce energy most efficiently from biomass it is
necessary to select a plant which grows quickly and easily. Cannabis is
such a plant.
Of all suitable biomass species, cannabis is the most prolific: it is a
low-moisture content, woody plant which can be grown in virtually all
climatic conditions.
Hemp is an ideal example of a plant which can be converted into
methane, methanol or petrol at a fraction of the cost of coal, oil or
nuclear energy.
Methanol can be refined into gasoline, kerosene-paraffin jet fuel and
other fuel-oils, as well as other substances including paints and
varnishes. Byproducts of the biomass process can be used in tars,
asphalt and charcoal.
When all these substances are burned, they produce carbon dioxide and
water, and none of the pollutants of petroleum-based fuels.


PRIOR to and during WW2, tens of thousands of vehicles were run on
methanol/petrol mixes produced in exactly the way described above.
Methanol is still used today in racing cars and dragsters.
Techniques have now been developed to convert methanol into a high-
octane, lead-free petrol usable by today's cars without modification.
Using cannabis biomass fuel for both vehicle propulsion and energy
production would stop carbon monoxide pollution and sulphur-based smog
(biomass fuels don't contain sulphur) and would help reverse the
greenhouse effect to a significant degree.

Cannabis for medicine

FOR at least 3,000 years, humanity has used extracts of various parts of
the cannabis plant as treatments for various ailments. Some of the
earliest archaeological finds in China have included cannabis products.
Queen Victoria's use of cannabis to ease her menstrual cramps and PMT
is common knowledge and indicative of the use of cannabis as medicine in
the English-speaking world at that time.
In our century cannabis has been shown to be useful as a medicine for
many disorders and symptoms, and proposed a treatment for thousands
Cannabis and its derivatives have appeared in almost every known book
of medicine written to date. In most of these it accorded the status of
a panacea - a cure-all substance.
More recent studies of its medicinal properties have called it a
"salugen" - an entirely non-harmful and health-promoting substance.
Today, the therapeutic use of cannabis is beginning to undergo a
renaissance. There is a wealth of evidence that for certain patients
afflicted with multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, cerebal palsy, Aids and
various other terminal illnesses, cannabis can provide a unique
It is already used to some extent for those needing treatment of
glaucomas (to reduce intra-ocular pressure), skin disorders, nausea
associated with chemotherapy. It is used for appetite stimulation for
HIV/Aids sufferers and those with eating disorders, and to treat those
suffering from epilepsy, tumours, infections, depression, migraines,
stress, rheumatism, and arthritis.
Cannabis can be used in palliative care, and its derivatives can be
used as an organic and highly effective disinfectant.
Yet these are only a tiny proportion of its potential medicinal uses,
and medically-proscribed cannabis for treatment is anything but readily
Despite its many uses doctors are largely forced by prohibition to use
synthetic analogues of the active substances found in cannabis hemp as
opposed to using the drug in its natural form.
Part of the problem is the insistence of the authorities to classify
cannabis hemp as a new substance - despite the fact that cannabis has
been thoroughly and enthusiastically tested by several hundred million
volunteers across more than 3,000 years, making it a more tested product
than any pharmaceutical substance now on the market.


CANNABIS is currently prohibited because the Government believes it to
be a harmful substance. But this conclusion appears to fly in the face
of most empirical evidence.
It is becoming increasingly clear that cannabis, rather than being
harmful, is in fact solely health-promoting - and it is therefore
immoral for the Government to deny its use to ill people.
We should lobby the Government to change its views and support cheaper
and more environmentally-friendly options.
Cannabis hemp in its natural form is not patentable, and therefore not
profitable. Why should any medical company do the research needed to get
cannabis approved as a safe medicine when there is no pay-off ?
State-driven and -funded research is the only practical solution. In
the end it would be cheaper for the NHS to use cannabis in its natural
form than to continue to enhance the profits of multinational
pharmaceutical companies.
Taking cannabis - a natural substance - is an act we have decided to
ban as a recreational activity. We have subsequently discovered - or
rediscovered - that when used in certain forms cannabis has beneficial
effects on people suffering from many diseases, both incurable and
Even if we support the ban on its use as a recreational activity, what
is the moral argument against using cannabis to benefit the sick? Where
is the sense or justification of a policy which bans the use of a
substance which is medically of benefit to people?

Law and order: costs of prohibiting cannabis and arguments for change

AT present, cannabis is classified as a dangerous drug, under the United
Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, on which the UK Misuse
of Drugs Act 1971 is based.
Cannabis was first made illegal in the UK and in many other countries
in 1928, because of its misrepresentation as a narcotic, i.e. a harmful
drug. But cannabis is not harmful.
We believe classifying cannabis as a narcotic is wrong, and Article 3
of the UN Single Convention should be exercised to allow the schedule to
be amended.

Costs of cannabis prohibition

WE are fast approaching a stage where consumption of cannabis has
increased to such an extent and costs of prohibition are so high, that
the Government will be forced to consider relegalisation.
In spite of the current ban there is no doubt that cannabis is being
consumed on a substantial scale, and the illegal cannabis market has
succeeded to a remarkable extent in maintaining the supply of a
commodity for which there is a rapidly increasing demand.
In 1982, 20,356 people were convicted under the Misuse of Drugs Act;
17,447 of those convictions were for offences relating to cannabis use.
By 1985, this figure cannabis-related offences accounted for 21,337 of
the 26,958 convictions.
At this point, the government of the day was prompted to begin its
Tackling Drugs Together initiative, marking a massive increase in
expenditure on drug offence detection and prosecution (and relatively
little extra on rehabilitation programmes).
In spite of this, by 1992 41,353 of the 48,927 drug convictions were
cannabis-related and by 1995 (the last available figures), 76,700 of the
93,631 drug offences recorded involved cannabis.
It is difficult to see how cannabis use could have spread much faster
even if it had not been a prohibited substance.

Future Concerns
IF current prohibition policies continue, the next spectre on the
horizon is that of urine testing. This has already begun in the USA. In
1987 Nancy Reagan recommended that no corporation be permitted to do
business with the Federal Government without having a urine purity
policy in place to show their loyalty.
Today most companies in the USA routinely conduct random drug testing
and fire staff and reject job applicants based solely on chemical
analysis of urine. Literally millions of random drugs test have been
taken from employees.
The implication is that everyone "knows" that cannabis users are bad
employees. Unfortunately someone forgot to tell the millions of hard
working cannabis smokers that.
A study of urine testing by City University of New York's medical
school concluded that urine testing is a costly procedure which says
nothing about the individual's work ability, competence or impairment.
In the case of cannabis urine tests cannot even prove how recently the
substance may have been used or indeed if it has.
This form of drug testing has turned out to be to be a method for
surveillance, not as a tool of safety.
In the UK hundreds of thousands of pounds are already spent - some
would say wasted - testing employees, drivers, soldiers and prisoners
every year. In 1996/97 , there were 57,700 urine samples test in
prisons. Of these some 24% tested positive.
It has been estimated 500 years have been added on to prisoners'
sentences as a result of random urine testing, at an average cost of
24,000pounds per prisoner.
Many UK companies are already insisting on urine and hair test for drug
and alcohol use.

TODAY many people caught with cannabis are encouraged to take drug
rehabilitation programs in lieu of prison time. This treatment option
may reduce actual prison costs but does not substantially reduce trial
and other pre-sentencing costs.
But people who break the cannabis laws are neither physically dependent
nor psychologically sick - if they are, cannabis has not made them that
way. Most simply refuse to conform to a law which they hold to be
Those who wish to stop using cannabis only need willpower - medical
research has shown that cannabis is not addictive.
Forcing cannabis offenders into rehabilitation programs means the
system wastes resources trying to "cure" people who have no need or real
desire to be cured and probably resent the whole process. At the same
time, overcrowding will mean centres will be forced to turn away cocaine
or heroin addicts and alcoholics, and other truly addicted offenders who
desperately need help.
Such a policy not only makes drug treatment less efficient, it may well
increase crime committed by genuine drug addicts who cannot get

The effects of the war on drugs

SUCCESSIVE governments have enacted more and more punitive and costly
drug control measures. What has been the result of these policies?
UN agencies estimate the annual revenue generated by the illegal drugs
industry at $400 billion, or the equivalent to roughly eight per cent of
total international trade per annum.
This black market industry has empowered organised crime, corrupted
governments at all levels, eroded internal security, stimulated
violence, and distorted both economic markets and moral values.
These are the consequences not of drug use per se, but of decades of
drug war policies.
The war on drugs has impeded public health efforts to stem the spread
of HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases.
Human rights have been violated, and prison has been inundated with
tens of thousand of drug law violators.
Scarce public money better spent on health, education and economic
development has been squandered on ever-more expensive interdiction
In all these respects the consequences of drug prohibition replicate -
and often exceed - those of the failed alcohol prohibition in the 1920s
Alcohol prohibition in the USA reminds us, too, of the health costs of
drugs prohibition. Today street drugs like heroin and speed are
adulterated with poisonous substances and assorted pills and capsules
containing everything from antihistamines to rat poison.
Practically every illicit drug purchased at retail level contains
adulterants, many of which are far more dangerous than the drug itself.
More and more money is being spent year on year arresting, prosecuting
and incarcerating drug-law violators.
This has led to choked courts and prisons, taxpayers' money being
diverted from worthier ends such as education and health care. It has
also required law enforcement resources to be diverted from
investigating other crimes.
Consider the costs of all the violence and assaults carried out by
criminal dealers on each other, against the police, witnesses and
Consider, too, the tremendous economic and social problems generated by
the illegality of the drug market; temptations so overwhelming that it
is foolish and unrealistic to expect all children to resist them.


WHAT is listed above is just a brief guide to some of the costs of our
current prohibition policies. One cannot help wondering how much longer
can we foot the bills for all this!
We need to initiate a truly open dialogue regarding the future of drug
control policies - one in which fear, prejudice, and punitive
prohibition yield to common sense and practicality.
Of course it is a good thing to want to protect vulnerable people from
the consequences of drug abuse. But - as is becoming increasingly clear
- prohibition is neither an effective nor a desirable way of doing this.
Drugs laws are being widely flouted every day by thousands or even
millions of people. When it comes to drugs, the law is an ass.
We cannot afford for the law to be brought into disrepute. It is time
to re-evaluate our policies, and think again.
If there is a single message that we seek to drive home, it is that
drug prohibition, rather than drug use, is responsible for much of what
is identified today as the ''drug problem''.
Realistic proposals to reduce drug-related crime, disease and even
death have been abandoned in favour of unworkable policies aiming to
create an unattainable goal - a drug-free society.

Persisting in our current policies will only result in more drug abuse,
a larger black market, more profits and power for criminals, and more
disease and suffering.

All too often those who call for an open debate, rigorous analysis of
current policies, and serious consideration of the alternatives are
accused of surrendering.
But the true surrender is when fear and inertia combine to shut off
debate, suppress critical analysis, and dismiss all other options.
Drawing the logical conclusions: a brief summary of the benefits of
relegalising the cannabis hemp plant

MILLIONS of pounds of taxpayers' money will be freed up, making the
cash available to upgrade other state services, like education,
sanitation, health care, transportation, clean air, water, and more.

WASTED time spent unnecessarily on chasing ,arresting and criminalising
cannabis users would be saved, giving police more time and resources to
concentrate on other crime. Cannabis arrests and convictions currently
account for 80% of all drugs convictions; legalisation would slash
Government expenditure at a stroke.

THE black market supplying cannabis would be wiped out (large-scale
industrial production would easily undercut criminals' prices), removing
a massive source of funding for criminals.

THE esteem of the law would be restored: a judicial system which
tolerates use of proven harmful substances like tobacco and alcohol, but
which prohibits other substances which at worst are only as harmful, and
more probably beneficial, commands little respect.
Even where a substance is provably harmful, a law which makes a
criminal activity out of an action practised by a significant part of
the population serves only to drive a large proportion of a society
underground -as with Prohibition in the USA.

REVENUE from a cannabis tax (akin to the taxes imposed on alcohol and
tobacco) would provide significant funding for other state services.

PRISON overcrowding would be reduced, and pressure on the overburdened
criminal justice system would be lessened. Legal aid costs would be
reduced and fewer court appearances would be needed from police, and a
whole menagerie of administrators, legal experts and witnesses.

CANNABIS users would be removed from the health risks and dangers
associated with the often-adulterated illegal supply. It would
decriminalise a substantial part of the population, allowing them to be
honest about their lifestyle and pastimes with friends, families,
employers, doctors etc.

THE local economy would be rejuvenated, providing a boost to our rural
sector, and generating employment.
Cannabis agriculture would assist in improving the quality of our soil
and help us to reduce the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, one of
the main causes of the greenhouse effect, and playing a part in reducing
pressure on the world's environment.

ILL people for whom cannabis is an effective but presently illegal
remedy would see their quality of life improved by the re-introduction
of cannabis as medicine, rather than being forced to resort to
alternative (and often more dangerous) synthetic medications currently
Final thoughts

IN open societies prohibitions which do not have the overwhelming
consent of the people are almost impossible to police, and can end up
corrupting the system that is there to enforce them.
Cannabis hemp, grown free of restriction, is one way to an economical
sustainable future.
I believe that the laws which prohibit cannabis have created many
social problems, and unnecessarily deny access to a uniquely-useful
natural resource.
I am extremely concerned by the failure of our current democratic
institutions to concern themselves with putting this wrong to rights.
While the legitimacy of prohibition of cannabis and its enforcement are
highly suspect, the case for re-legalisation is quite clear.
I believe the prohibition of cannabis is money-motivated, not in the
public interest, an unwarranted repression of natural resources and,
essentially, a crime against humanity.
We cannot allow present problems of pollution and energy to continue
simply because of a mistaken belief that the use of cannabis for
recreation or therapy must be stopped at all costs, or is in any way
dangerous to health. This is clearly contrary to the evidence.
Cannabis reforms offer major savings to the taxpayer and release funds
for other social programs to tackle real drug misuse and help those who
need help.
I invite a healthy democratic debate in the confidence that it will
demonstrate the cannabis hemp plant is so much more than a recreational
substance, and that there are many long-term social, ecological and
economic benefits which can be reaped by using cannabis hemp again.
I hope that the debate will help strip away all the misconceptions
about cannabis which have been foisted on society for over the past few
generations and allow us to take a fresh look at the potential of this
valuable plant.
My personal position on legalising cannabis is best explained by the
statement: "A person should not be criminalised and/or locked up for
growing and consuming the fruit of the cannabis plant/herb, and our
society should not be prevented from using such a valuable and
ecologically-friendly resource."
This is not as controversial a stance as you might think. In all my
time in campaigning for a change in the laws on cannabis, I have met
very few people who thought a person should be arrested for simple
possession of cannabis for personal use or indeed growing a few plants
for their own use, medicinally or otherwise.
As for the environmental side, it seems tragically few people are
sufficiently informed to make what eventually becomes an obvious
I hope those who read this document can keep an open mind. However, I
accept whatever happens there will always be those who believe that hemp
can save the world and those who are passionately against its use for
any purpose.
But there does come moments when a particular combination of
circumstances calls for deeper investigation of all the factors
involved. We seem to have reached one of those moments!
Hopefully I have given you a better understanding of the cannabis plant
and the controversy surrounding it. I can only hope that you will open
some of the doors I have merely knocked on, to increase your knowledge,
and encourage open, honest, and informed debate.

Don Barnard, 25 Aetheric Road, Braintree, Essex CM7 2NE
November 27, 1998
Further reading, appendices and acknowledgements

IF you have struggled through this far, well done! If you wish to look
into this issue in more detail - and there is plenty more to know - see

Appendix 1: The CLCIA

THE Campaign to Legalise Cannabis International Association (CLCIA)
makes no distinction between any of the many uses of cannabis hemp. We
wish to relay information on all aspects of this uniquely-useful plant.
We are not stereotypical "spaced-out hippies" struggling for the
freedom to smoke dope. We are convinced the cannabis hemp issue is a
massive political and economic issue which affects everyone.
We come from all walks of life, and hold all manner of personal
beliefs, from extreme right to the extreme left, atheist to devout
christian; our members include farmers, industrialists, doctors,
politicians, parents, patients, doctors and nurses to name but a few.
We are not unbiased! We believe the cannabis hemp plant should be re-
legalised immediately for all its varied uses.
Cannabis hemp is probably the most useful plant on the planet.
Certainly it was one of first ever crops to be cultivated - its use is
well-documented in many of our most ancient cultures.
Prohibition of cannabis is a relatively recent phenomenon, was entirely
misguided, and has been an economic, agricultural, industrial, social
and environmental disaster.
The CLCIA has been at the forefront of the drive to create a level
playing field where hemp can compete with other marketed natural
resources and synthetics.
We are calling on the Government to reform the law and promote domestic
and global production of hemp as an environmentally-friendly source of
raw materials for industry, medicine and recreation.
We, too, are deeply concerned about the threat that drugs pose to our
children our fellow citizens and our society.
We believe that the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than
drug abuse/misuse itself. Once we look beyond the emotional bias
attached to cannabis, it is clear that it is not a drug but simply an
agricultural product with tremendous demand.
We are actively campaigning for the full legalisation of cannabis and
the release of all prisoners convicted of cannabis-only offences.
We want cannabis to be returned to its status prior to any form of


Address: The CLCIA, 54c Peacock Street, Norwich, NR3 1TB
Appendix 2: Pertinent facts

What is the present UK budget for tackling drugs?
OVERALL Government expenditure on tackling drugs misuse across the UK
for 1993/94 was estimated at 526 million pounds. A later figure is not
available, and the components of the 1993/94 estimate are not given.
Current unofficial estimates suggest this figure has now risen to a
billion pounds-plus per annum on domestic control, and probably the same
amount again on international control.

How much does it cost to take a cannabis offender to court?
FIGURES for cannabis costs are not available. However, in England and
Wales in 1995, the average cost of a prosecution for a summary offence
(a less serious offence tried at a magistrates court) was 200-300
pounds, and the cost for an indictable offence (a serious crime heard in
a crown court) was 2,000 - 3,000 pounds.

How many people are now in prison for cannabis offences in the UK?
IN June 1995, there were 1,450 people in England and Wales in jail for
cannabis-related offences - about one third of the total number people
in prison for drug offences.

How many deaths are associated with drug use each year?
IN Britain, 95 per cent of drug-associated deaths are due to tobacco and
alcohol. There are no reported deaths attributed to cannabis.
UK deaths from drugs in 1990 (a typical sample): Tobacco 110,000;
Alcohol 30,000 (not including road traffic accidents); Morphine 91;
Methadone 84; Heroin 62; Barbiturates 7; Anti- Depressants 4; Cocaine 4;
Pethadine 3; MDMA (Ecstasy) 3; Amphetamines 2; LSD 0; Psyocibin ( Magic
Mushrooms) 0; Cannabis 0.

Appendix 3: Does the Dutch policy of decriminalisation work?

VARIOUS experts estimate that there are about 25,000 drug addicts in the
Netherlands. This is the equivalent to only 0.16 % of the population.
This estimate is reliable, because in Holland care agencies manage to
maintain contact with a relatively high proportion of addicts.
Below is a quick comparison of the number of drug addicts under Dutch
drug policy compared with other European countries:

Number ( millions) per 1000
Addicts population population

Netherlands 25,000 15.1 1.6
Germany 100,000-120,000 79.8 1.3-1.5
Belgium 7,500 10.0 1.8
Luxembourg 2,000 0.4 5.0
France 135,000-150,000 57.0 2.4-2.6
UK 150,000 57.6 2.6

This document can be found on the following websites:

Appendix 4: Technical information about hemp seed analysis
(Source: Hemp Union)

ESSENTIAL Fatty Acid profile of a typical hemp seed: Alpha Linolenic
(Omega 3) 19%, Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) 50%, Gamma Linolenic Acid 1.6%
Nutritional analysis of a typical hemp seed: Protein 22.55%,
Carbohydrates 35.8%, Oil 30%. Calories 503 per 100g. Dietary Fibre 35.1%
(3%soluble). Carotine 7.63 International units/gram. Vitamin E 30mg/g,
Vitamin C 14 mg/g, Vitamin B1 9mg/g, B2 11mg/g, B3 25 mg/g, B6 3mg/g

Appendix 5: Pot-shots

FROM: Green World, Autumn 1996: Drugs and the Green Party:
"AS the existing drug laws continue to exacerbate the problems, the need
to find a real solution grows, and increasingly people are considering
our ideas.
As has happened with transport, global warming, ozone, etc., the day
will come when our common-sense approach to drugs will also be
"Prohibition fails on every count. To achieve a change we need to
mobilise the huge constituency of people who are routinely disobeying
these archaic and repressive laws forcing the politicians to listen."

FROM: European Community Committee of Enquiry on Drug Trafficking 1991:
"DRUG addiction and drug misuse should be treated as a subject of health
and welfare and not as one of police and justice. Possession of illicit
drugs in small quantities for personal use should not be considered as a
criminal offence."

FROM: Marijuana; The Forbidden Medicine, Lester Grinspoon, 1993:
"WHEN I began to study marijuana in 1967, I had no doubt it was a very
harmful drug....By the time I completed the research....I had become
convinced that cannabis was considerably less harmful than tobacco and

FROM: Report by the Expert Group to the Advisory Council on Misuse of
Drugs, 1981:
"THE review recommended some changes, the effect of which would be to
remove the penalty of imprisonment on summary conviction for the
unlawful possession of cannabis."

FROM: 95th (1992) Congress Agriculture Public Witness Panel Testimony:
William C. Burrows, Senior Staff Scientist, John Deere & Co:
"WE consider that biomass will be used as an energy source in the
future. Machinery is currently in production and available to processors
to handle the growing and harvesting of biomass for energy...
"Maybe I should emphasise that a little more because it is easy to pass
over this in the testimony. We think the technology, the machinery for
using this material is here now. It can be bought in the market place."

Appendix 6: Further reading
Documents and sources

By K.E.A. d'Oudney & J.R. d'Oudney.
A textbook exposition on cannabis prohibition in the context of
criminology, ecology, economics, history, law, medicine, politics and
sociology. ISBN: 0 9524421 16.
The Family Council on Drug Awareness is an educational organisation
originating in the USA with numerous branches. The FCDA Europe is its
autonomous associate.

By Rowan Robinson.
A guide to the environmental, commercial and medicinal uses of the
world's most extraordinary plant.

By Jack Herer.
Eye-opening information about cannabis hemp for everyone interested in
ecology, the environment, politics and history. Fully documented and

By Udo Erasmus.
The most up-to-date and complete guide to fats, oils, cholestrol and
their effects on human health. Includes current research on common and
less well-known oils - including hemp-seed oil and its therapeutic

By Chris Conrad.
Information on how cannabis hemp can provide 50,000 commercial products
- food, clothing, shelter, paper, plastics, fuel and medicines and more
- and help reduce pollution and repair our planet.

By Chris Bennett, Lynn Osburn & Judy Osburn.
Documents the history of religious use of cannabis.

By Ed Rosenthal.
A collection of reports from research scientists and authorities on the
hemp plant, and its uses worldwide. Also includes detailed discussions
on hemp for fuel, the economics of relegalisation, and other topics.

By Lester Grinspoon M.D. and James B. Bakalar.
Evidence of cannabis hemp's therapeutic value, containing first-hand
accounts of how cannabis has offered relief from a variety of physical

By Lynn Zimmer and John P. Morgan.
Chapters address cannabis's physical and psychological effects, its
addictive potential, its impact on driving, and its use as a medicine.

By John W Roulac.
Includes information on how 29 countries (including Britain) already use
hemp, as well as companies including Adidas, Giorgio Armani, Ford,
Mercedes and BMW.

Organisations and contacts

The industrial hemp information network, including information on how
tobacco farmers are lobbying to switch from the tobacco leaf to the hemp
stalk - a non drug crop.

Publishers of "Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts - A Review of the
Scientific Evidence" by Lynn Zimmer Ph.D. and John P. Morgan MD.
The centre houses one of the world's largest collections of information
on drugs and drug policy in its library and information centre.
Some of the documents are available on the centre's web site, which
also provides the latest news from the centre and links other relevant
Address: The Lindesmith Centre, 400 West 59th Street, New York 10019 USA
E-mail address:

The aim of ACT is to encourage more research into the therapeutic value
of cannabis, with a view to giving access to it for patients via medical
prescription. It does not encourage people to break the law, and does
not campaign for the general legalisation of cannabis.
Many doctors support the campaign - in a 1994 BMA survey, 74 % of
doctors said they thought cannabis should be available on medical
ACT took a delegation of doctors, patients, and politicians to the
Department of Health in October 1994. This group can take the most
credit for persuading the House of Lords to investigate the medicinal
uses of the plant, which led to its recent and much-publicised support
for legislation allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis.
Fax: 0113 2371000

Hemp Union is a company committed to environmentally-sound practices and
products, and the total re-introduction of hemp products for the future
benefit of everyone.
Address: Hemp Union Ltd, 24 Anlaby Road, Hull HU1 2PA

The manufacturers of hemp seed food bars and a hemp seed-based sports
energy bar. New Earth provides a free information service which includes
nutritional analysis on hemp seeds.
Its web site contains pictures of hemp seed farming and various hemp
seed recipes.
Address: New Earth, PO BOX 204, Barnet, London EN5 1EP

The journal for those who produce and market solar energy, BF&U is
published by Macpherson Associates six times a year. It reports industry
news, research progress, and developments on legislation, and provides
It provides a forum in which readers can express their views in print.
Individuals and bodies such as British Biogen, ETSU, the European
Commission and Government departments disseminate ideas and views via
the journal.

The SRI is part of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research
Council (BBSRC) and works in close collaboration with other BBSRC
It is leading research into developing practical, cost-effective
methods of processing alternate crops including straw, linseed, hemp,
nettles and hollyhocks to help make using natural, renewable materials a
viable option.
Address: David Bruce, Silsoe Research Institute,Wrest Park, Silsoe,
Bedford MK45 4HS
Tel: 01525 860000
Fax: 01525 860156

HIA is an industry trade association dedicated to the support and
promotion of hemp. Its select membership includes the world's leading
hemp businesses.
The aims of the HIA are: to represent the interests of the hemp
industries; to encourage research and development of new hemp products;
to educate consumers about the exceptional attributes of hemp products;
to facilitate the exchange of information and technology between hemp
farmers, processors, manufacturers of hemp products, distributors and
retailers; to maintain and defend the integrity of hemp products; and
finally to advocate and support socially-responsible and
environmentally-sound business practices.
Address: PO Box 1080, Occidental, CA 95465
Tel: 1-500-HIA-HEMP
E-mail address: info{

A UK environmental organisation looking at the revival of traditional,
sustainable industry through the introduction of appropriate-scale
It has been exploring the potential for non-wood fibres for papermaking
for a number of years, and has produced several reports on the potential
of annual fibre crops such as hemp, flax and straw.
Backed by the World Wildlife Fund and the Government's Local Projects
Fund, the group has already begun research on use of cannabis hemp for
agriculture and industry, with special emphasis on hemp's potential for
paper and textile production.
Its report "Bioregional Fibres" explores the potential for a
sustainable regional paper and textile industry based on hemp and flax.
On 26th March 1997 the group introduced its mini-mill project at Kew
Gardens to the representatives of eight paper mills, the paper
federation and other interested parties including Government
This group differs from many other pressure groups as it is market-led
and has had some notable successes including the regeneration of the
British charcoal industry.
Address: Bioregional Development Group, Sutton Ecology Centre, Honeywood
Walk, Carshalton, Surrey SM5 3NX




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