Activists have been shouting they want an end to GMO foods for more than a decade now, and Cannabis Sattiva L. supporters have been at it for even longer, so why has the US government finally given farmers the right to legally grow industrial hemp, the non-hallucinatory, sister plant of medical marijuana?
It is safe to say that industrialized hemp should have been legalized years ago. With THC levels so low, you would have to smoke more of it than Snoop Dogg to get ‘high’ – and that’s a lot of Cannabis, it is ridiculous that it was classified as a drug at all. It has numerous uses and could replace many crops that require heavy irrigation and pesticides, like cotton, for example. Here’s the most interesting fact though – hemp plants ‘eat’ radiation.
When the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Reactor 4 accident caused severe radioactive contamination in 1986, families within a 30-kilometer area of the site had to be evacuated. Radioactive contamination was later found at 100 kilometers from the accident site, and Fukushima radiation levels are still to be determined, with the Japanese government planning on dumping their overflowing radiated water tanks into the Pacific as we speak.
As with the Chernobyl incident, scientists are finding radioactive emissions and toxic metals–including iodine, cesium-137, strontium-90, and plutonium–concentrated in the soil, plants, and animals of Japan, but also now throughout the United States and all along the West Coast – from Canada to Mexico. Even the EPA has admitted that any living tissue can be affected by radiation exposure. High levels of thyroid disease and cancer have been reported in Japan, and our ocean is dying by the day. Scientists are also expecting that children born on the US West Coast will suffer a 28% higher incident of hyperthyroidism – a disease that accompanies radiation exposure. Even the livestock that grazed on irradiated grasses grown in contaminated soils developed meat with high concentrations of these unwanted toxins after Chernobyl, and Fukushima is exponentially worse.
Dr. Ilya Raskin of Rutgers University’s Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, who was a member of the original task force sent by the IAEA to examine food safety at the Chernobyl site figured out that through phytoremediation utilizing hemp, among other plants, the soil, and thus the food supply could be saved from toxicity.
Phytoremediation is the process whereby green plants remove toxins from the soil. Plants can extract specific elements within their ecosystem and still thrive. They accumulate the toxins in their tissues and root systems but remain undamaged. Sunflowers have been known to do something similar for centuries, eliminating heavy metals and pesticides from damaged soil. Two members of the mustard family are also useful for this process – Brassica juncea and Brassica carinata, but it seems hemp is quite amazing at sucking up radiation.
Granted, the government is probably dumbfounded at what to do with the Fukushima radiation headed our way, but the legalization of hemp just might balance some of the toxicity scientists expect. Fortunately, California, one of the states that will be hardest hit, has already legalized industrial hemp, but it has to wait for the federal government to give states the right before they can actually grow it. The Farm Bill only allows ‘research’ growth at certain institutions in 10 states currently.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. In light of Fukushima, let’s join our countries’ founders to grow it too. You can help clean the soil in your area if hemp or medical marijuana has been legalized in your state, and help it to pass in further states by being vocal with your state and federal representatives.