Synopsis by Sandra Brennan
In the United States, hemp has been given a bad name, but is that reputation merited? Is it indeed only an illegal drug to be abused, a destroyer of brain cells, (as Government agencies would have us believe) or does it have other more beneficial sides? According to this interesting documentary, the answer is yes. Hemp fibers are stronger than wood or cotton; the seeds are high in protein, it can be cheaply grown in bulk without depleting the soil and without pesticides, it quickly biodegrades, and the psychoactive chemicals found in hemp can be used to treat a variety of physical ailments including glaucoma, extreme nausea, and pain. The film has a definite pro-hemp stance and presents considerable evidence for the legalization of marijuana and for the resumption of the hemp industry that once thrived in this country. Mostly though it is a chronicle of the history of hemp, which has been used for thousands of years, especially in the U.S. The filmmakers support their thesis of the value of hemp with a variety of medical, economic and political studies and interviews. Medically, they show many studies claiming that marijuana is less dangerous to the body than the legalized substances caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. They also make the fascinating suggestion that powerful political lobbying from the budding 1930s petrochemical industry was instrumental in implementing the sudden banning of hemp because the hemp industry presented stiff competition for the oil industry's synthetic products. Interestingly, the filmmakers then provide evidence that hemp can be engineered to grow without the THC that makes it a drug, so hemp needn't be a drug. They also show how the government's restrictions have created a huge, often violent black market for the drug and have nearly pulled the rug out from under foreign economies such as Lebanon and Nepal, which are heavily dependent upon hemp exports. The film also includes fascinating archival film clips representing both sides of the issue.