A thoroughgoing defense of hemp that examines both its many uses, and the history and (il)logic of its criminalization. [ Billion Dollar Crop credits: Dir: Barbara A. Chobocky, Michael Cordell/ 55 min/ Documentary-Educational/ Australia/ Legalize Drugs]
“Billion Dollar Crop is an engaging documentary. It’s well organized and persuasive, and employs a variety of credible testimony to favorable effect. Needless to say, it puts government policy toward hemp in a very bad light. This film is likely to be of special interest to ‘green’ libertarians.”
Much of this film is spent demonstrating the myriad uses of the hemp plant. As told here, it can be made into cloth, paper, rope, food, oil, medicine, building materials, cellophane, ethanol, paint, and more. The first U.S. flag was made of hemp. Henry Ford even built a car out of it. Apparently you can make just about anything out of hemp. No wonder it was once one of the world’s biggest crops.
Billion Dollar Crop also emphasizes the plant’s environmentally friendly character. It’s so hardy that it needs almost no pesticides or herbicides to grow, and it grows fast—in a one-hundred-and-twenty-day cycle. These are important features when one considers the alternatives it would replace, that is, cotton and wood fibers. Cotton production requires huge amounts of chemicals, some of questionable environmental impact. And trees take years, in some cases hundreds of years, to grow.
So if hemp is so great, why is it illegal? Fundamentally, the answer given here is: the corrupt character of government. As the film explains, at the end of Prohibition the bureaucracy in charge of banning alcohol needed a new bogeyman to justify its continued existence. So, it began blaming hemp smoking for a variety of heinous crimes; the next thing you know, hemp was banned and the War on Drugs was born.
Much of this film is angled from an ecologist’s perspective, and what really interests ecologists with respect to hemp is its terrific potential to replace less environmentally-friendly sources of natural fiber, a potential that this film demonstrates in spades.
Billion Dollar Crop is an engaging documentary. It’s well organized and persuasive, and employs a variety of credible testimony to favorable effect. Needless to say, it puts government policy toward hemp in a very bad light. This film is likely to be of special interest to “green” libertarians.