As I sit here in August 1998 putting the final touches on this 11th edition of The Emperor, I find myself reflecting upon all the changes that have occurred since 1985 when the first edition of this book was released.
Hemp awareness has increased dramaticallyeasily 10,000 foldsince then. In 1985, aside from those few items in Captain Eds and my store, there were virtually no hemp products for sale in the western world, and not many in the eastern part of the globe either. Today, a multitude of hemp products are sold in thousands of stores with more stores jumping on the hemp bandwagon every day.
The variety of goods on sale is almost as limitless as the uses of hemp itself: paper, clothing, fiber, fabric, shampoos, cosmetocs, body oils, machine lubricants, plastics, and a variety of foods of the highest nutritional value. I am optimistic that cannabis medicines will soon legally join this list.
International firms like The Body Shop with its approximately 1,600 stores have put their full weight behind hemp, and manufacturers like Ecolution, Hanf Haus, Two Star Dog, and Headcase are becoming more prominent every day.
Magazines like Hemp World, Hemp Times, Cannabis Culture (Canada), and Hanf (Germany) provide up-to-the-minute perspectives on the growing battle for utilization and legalization.
But despite all the positive changes these days, it doesnt take a weatherman, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, to know which way the wind is blowing.
Im sitting here in Los Angeles amidst the hottest summer on recordafter 7 consecutive years of worldwide record-breaking heat. The sweat pouring down my forehead threatens to extinguish my legal medical marijuana joint. Global warming, despite the arrogant indifference of government scientists, is increasing by the day, the month, the year.
The Antartic ice cap, which contains 90% of the worlds ice, is said to be melting 10 times faster than was estimated just 10 years ago. If this continues at the present rate, our oceans wont be just 1-3 feet higher in twenty years, but as much as 20 feet higher! Shades of the film Waterworld!
I am saddened by the thought that this senseless, exponential destruction of our environment could long ago have been avoided, and possibly even stopped by cultivating hemp for our paper, plastics, and energy needs.
In 1970, the major media was bemusedly tolerant of pot. The youth culture was on the upswing and the meek seemed poised to inherit the earth from the military-industrial complex. By 1983, an avaricious, conscienceless me-generation capitalism had turned back the humanist tide.
In 1978, after 202 years of Nationhood, there were 300,000 Americans in state and federal prisons and another 150,000 in county jails (for all crimes). There were only 45,000 prison guards nationwide. At that time, the construction of schools and universities was a thriving growth industry. At least five times more was being spent on schools than on prisons.
Suddenly, in 1978, new leadership in prison guard unions molded the previously ineffectual guards into one of the most politically powerful lobbying blocks in the country. What the guards wanted was longer and longer determinant sentences for less and less serious crimes, and with virtually no time off for good behavior to assure rapidly growing prison populations.
In the last 20 years, these powerful correctional officers unions, became the largest single contributors to state legislatorsand mostly to the Republican Party. Now in 1998, there are more than 1,200,000 persons in prison, 550,000 in jail, and the penal system supports 230,000 prison guards!
Today, prison construction and prison employment are among the largest growth industries in the U.S., while federal and state spending for new schools has dwindled to less than one-fifth that of prison building expenditures.
What kind of society would rather build jails than schools?
In 1998, the courts are endeavoring to fill up prison cellsliterally cramming them fullfaster than they can be made available. On average, these mostly non-violent offenders are being held (depending on individual state law) for 2, 3, and 4-times longer than they were in 1978.
In 1996, California passed the Medical Marijuana Initiative, despite the urgings of presidents Ford, Carter, Bush, and Clinton, along with Nancy Reagan and General Barry McCaffrey who travelled up and down the state imploring Californians to reject the measure. Despite their efforts, the measure passed, giving rise to a multitude of cannabis buyers clubs. Today, these clubs have almost all been closed illegally by the federal government in blatant defiance of state law and the California voters overwhelming majority mandate!
The Feds Strike Back:
Todd McCormick, 27, suffered from cancer between the ages of 2 to 15, which left his top 5 vertebrae fused. In 1978, Todds mother, encouraged by federal studies shed read on the positive medical uses of pot for nausea and appetite, took the governments implied advice and began providing 9-year-old Todd with marijuana.
Todd subsequently became an expert self-use grower of cannabis to ease his excruciating neck pain, increase his appetite, and allow to sleep longer uninterupted from pain. He was engaged in experimentation utilizing many varieties of cannabis to discover which plants were most effective for various pains and illnesses and was writing a meticulously-researched book on the subject when he was arrested by the DEA on July 29, 1997. Now he faces 25 years to life for the federal crime of horticulture.
In addition, Todds publisher, Peter McWilliams, the author of 35 books (5 of which made the New York Times bestseller list), who since 1996 has suffered from AIDS and cancer, was himself arrested in July 1998 by the DEA allegedly for conspiring to subsidize Todds marijuana operation and for manufacturing marijuana with intent to sell to local buyers clubs. All of whichhad it been truewould have been within his legal prerogative within the state of California. McWilliams flatly states, and all of his associates confirm, that he has never grown marijuana nor profited from the sale of even one joint.
This November 1998, six states: Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska, and Arizona, are bringing medical marijuana initiatives before their votersall but Arizona for the first time. Our government and the DEA nazis have flaunted their disdain for the democratic process by ignoring the California voters medical marijuana statute through their selective persecution of Todd, Peter, and their friends in order to intimidate and dissuade other law-abiding citizens.
In 1998, while many events on the hemp horizon seem promising, the government and DEAs intransigence in doggedly maintaining Anslingers absurd and oppressive laws of 1937, are continuing to inflict pain and suffering on all Americans despite the fact a recent CNN poll indicates that 95% of U.S. citizens support the legalization of medical marijuana! An earlier poll of Californians showed 40% in support of legalization of industrial, medicinal, nutritional, and personal use by adults 21 years and older.
My fervent hope is that we are merely seeing the darkness before the inevitable dawn.
Jack Herer, Los Angeles, August 6, 1998
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