By Alun Buffry
In 2737 BC, Chinese emperor Shen Nung’s who considered cannabis to be a “superior” herb in the world’s first medical text, or pharmacopoeia, Pen Ts’ao, would clearly have encouraged home cultivation.
In 450 BC, Greek historian Herodotus recorded Scythians and Thracians as consuming cannabis and making fine linens of hemp.
In 100 BC, the Chinese made paper from hemp and mulberry.
In 70 BC, Roman Emperor Nero’s surgeon, Dioscorides, praised cannabis for making the ‘stoutest cords’ and for its medicinal properties. The Romans did not shy away from cannabis!
In 1563 AD, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that land-owners with more than 60 acres must grow hemp or be fined £5.
In 1564 AD, King Phillip of Spain orders hemp grown throughout his empire from modern Argentina to Oregon.
More recently, in 1943, the US Government started its “Hemp for Victory” program urging farmers to grow hemp to help war effort.
In 2001, Howard Marks sang “Grow More Weed” on the CD of the same name.
So, history shows us that the cultivation of cannabis was encouraged almost continuously until early in the 2oth century – for rope, sales, paper, clothing, food, medicine, and religious uses. It is undeniable that cannabis was also consumed simply to get “high”, even in Britain. In fact, Culpeper wrote about it in his book “Complete Herbal and English Physician” in 1826: “It is so common a plant, and so well known by almost every inhabitant of this kingdom, that a description of it would be altogether superfluous.”
But in the 1920’s, for very questionable motives, cannabis was banned under the Geneva Opium Convention and UK Dangerous Drugs Act, thus opening the doorway for alternatives often dangerous in their synthesis or use, like nylon, fossil and nuclear fuels, plastics and drugs. The lies spread to justify the ban were believed by the masses and so successful that many still believe them today – even some of our elected politicians!. Although still gown in Britain for paper and animal bedding – and by medicines produced by Pharmacists, the more general ban has stripped us of our self-sufficiency and left us in the hands of multinational corporations.
Yet, nowadays, millions in Britain use the plant as a medicine or for fun. Even at the risk of prosecution. The cultivation of this wonderful plant without a hard-to-get license is outlawed and penalties can be extreme – up to 14 years in prison.
So why do so many people continue to grow it, indoors as well as outside?
One obvious answer is that in the long run it can save the cannabis consumer – whether medical or recreational (what’s the difference?) a considerable amount of money. Prohibition, as always, has driven up prices because it has left the supply in the hands of possibly unscrupulous and certainly untaxed “criminals”, people who may care more about profit than quality
Cultivation, relatively easy, taking less time for most people than would scouring the area for some good weed, with plenty of help and advice both on and off line, means home-growers can be proud of their product, knowing that it is pure.
Unless bought from reliable sources, weed, and worse still some of the imported hashish or resin, can indeed contain extremely harmful substances, ranging from insecticides used in large warehouses to save crops, to additives used to make the colour or texture more appealing, binding agents and chemical solvents and even hard drugs or crushed pills to produce some sort of “hit”. It is a great shame that many cannabis users in the UK think that hit is cannabis. It is a greater shame that the Government outlaws the plant itself even though they can do nothing to halt the supply of the impure stuff.
Of course, growers have to spend extra money and time trying to hide their crop away from both prospective thieves and cops. It would be great to simply grow it in the garden, as many of our ancestors did, but the law is forcing people to behave like crooks.
This useful, versatile, efficacious plant that puts a smile on our faces, is grown by many because it’s cheaper, cleaner and a more pleasant smoke, enabling them to avoid contact with ‘drug’ dealers.
And to watch a plant grow from seed or cutting, flower and bud to produce that wonderful aroma and feeling of relaxation, is in itself one of the greatest of pleasures.
Even doctors suggest gardening as a rewarding hobby!
Home grown is freed weed!
Alun Buffry is an author, activist and a founding member of the now disbanded Legalise Cannabis Alliance, which was an active political party and then pressure group that campaigned to change cannabis laws in the UK up until 2011.
Alun also runs CCGuide, which is the largest cannabis online database of news and links in the UK.