Saturday, June 24, 2006

In the eighteenth century, hemp cargoes were considered a threat to national security, and ships were seized on the high seas. In August of 1778, a British merchantman was taken by the American privateer, General Mifflin, off the coast of Norway, along with seven others carrying Russian goods. Catherine II, Empress of Russia, protested and tried to encourage Scandinavian navies to protect maritime traffic. Later that year, the British seized a Russian ship, Jonge Prins, which was transporting flax and hemp to Nantes. The Russian court was to hear from the British that this was a matter of "self-defence", and that it was preventing its "enemies from being supplied with Naval or Warlike stores." In January of 1780, Spain struck at the Russian trade when it captured the Concordia, bound for France or Italy. Later it took a Russian ship, the St. Nicholas.
Hemp was then quite essential to national security, and with the problems arising from disrupted trade, Britain sought to grow her own in the Colonies. In 1790 it was hoped that some Russian or Livonian farmers could be enticed away to Canada. That year, the Russians arrested two hemp planters employed by the British. Spies, lies and hemp growers all took take part in shaping the destiny of the world we live in today, although the fight has now shifted to become an information war, with America not allowing its citizens to grow what they once counted as an essential crop and some parties trying to confuse hemp with pot. The latest seizure in history was the US Customs impounding of 20,000 lbs. of Canadian hemp seed when it crossed the border, only to be sued by Kenex for violation of the NAFTA Free Trade Agreement.

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