Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the front lines of the next agricultural revolution, by Doug Fine
By Deej Sullivan
Hemp Bound, by Doug Fine, is not a long book. In fact I read pretty much the whole thing on one train journey from Totnes to Cardiff. It is, however, a remarkable one. Rarely has a non-fiction book grabbed my attention in the way Hemp Bound did. Coming as it does at such a hugely important moment in the history of the hemp plant both in the US and across the planet, it feels at once vital and of the moment, whilst at the same time feeling almost prophetic in its outline for the future of one of the most useful plants on the planet.
Fine’s book is more than just a fact-file on hemp. Whilst writing the book he travelled the world and spoke to experts on the plant as well as the activists fighting for change and the politicians who are now making those dreams a reality. The people in this book are not the same old names from every other cannabis book you’ve ever read – these are people like Grant Dyck, Hemp farmer. In Fine’s words ‘the guy actually doing it – has been for seven years….the lifelong Manitoban farmer was among the most valuable sources I interviewed for this project.’
Dyck’s story is essentially a microcosm of the entire a book – it contains huge amounts of hope and optimism but crucially, and unlike other more, shall we say, evangelical, books on the subject, it also urges caution. This is the overarching message in Fine’s book: that yes, Hemp is an incredibly useful plant that should be legalised worldwide immediately to allow its use in everything from rope making to fuelling cars to ridding our soil of radiation. But, and it’s a big but, it is not the answer to all of the planets many problems on its own. That isn’t to put a downer on it – hemp will be instrumental if we are to continue living on this planet as a species – it just isn’t going to save us overnight. There are battles to be won on the way, and you get the sense from Fine’s writing that every fibre of his being is hoping and praying that they are won.
It will take time for the hemp revolution to really take off, but not much; Fine predicts that within a decade or so the hemp industry in the states will outstrip marijuana (already America’s number one cash crop). And when it does that is going to be a huge boost to the economy, something that everyone should be happy about.
If I have one small criticism of Hemp Bound it is merely a cosmetic one – throughout the book are dotted fact files about the people or person being written about (so-called ‘Hemp Pioneers’). Now I have no problem with this, and they are in fact very interesting and worthwhile reading; the problem is that they all too often crop up in the middle of a sentence, so that you have to skip forward a few pages to finish reading and then go back. Like I said, not a big problem, more of a mild annoyance in an otherwise brilliant book.
So whatever you do, don’t let that put you off. In fact, if you are at all interested in hemp (or cannabis) do yourself a favour and buy this book straight away. It’s an easy read, but entertaining and great fun. And you’ll probably learn something. Win-win.
You can read an extract of Doug Fine’s book here at
Published 8 May 2014
Chelsea Green Publishing