Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Much as hemp has been part of our world for millenia, it is only to be expected that there is a large body of literature on the subject. Early pharmacopeia, Pliny, Moschion, Dioscorides and Rabelais all mention hemp. After the printing press developed, and agricultural treatises were published, these too included mention of hemp, with many devoted to the issue, such as G.A. Berti's La Coltivazione della Canape, ca. 1657. Just over a century later M. Marcandier wrote his own treatise on hemp, Traite du Chanvre. Both are now rare books, with the Berti perhaps surviving only as single copies here and there. The Marcandier was more popular, and was in the eighteenth century translated into English and German. Recently, John Hanson of the UK reprinted this, from a copy in the British Library that was owned by Sir Joseph Banks.
Another popular hemp book was published n 1804; On the Cultivation and Preparation of Hemp, written by Robert Wissett, a clerk of the British East India Co. In it he compared the various authorities, including Marcandier, to give the farmer a good overview of the subject. This was reprinted in 1808 with a letter by Lord Somerville. At the time it cost £1, 11 shillings and 6pence; this was a fortune back then, but they managed to get good reviews and sell out nonetheless. Try to get a copy now, and you'll find that it has appreciated well despite the high initial price.
In 1900, a farmer in New York wrote HEMP, which was the seminal work for his generation. It was published by Orange Judd & Co., who reprinted it in 1912. A year later Lyster H. Dewey of the US Department of Agriculture wrote a lenghty article in the USDA Yearbook. For decades to follow, any information about hemp was usually found as an article rather than as a book all to itself.
Jack Frazier in 1974 rediscovered hemp in America and wrote his short book The Marijuana Farmers. This too was reprinted, over a decade later, though with a different title: The Great American Hemp Industry.
By that time Jack Herer had also rediscovered hemp, and his book, The Emperor Wears no Clothes, was to become a classic, which is today into its eleventh edition. Both Frazier and Herer had many references to marijuana, and while each had a cult following, they did not persuade the lawmakers to relegalise hemp in the US. Three of Herer's compatriots in California also wrote on hemp in the 1990s, Chris Conrad, John Roulac and Ed Rosenthal. Each of their works have advanced the hemp cause much and continue to be of value as reference books. Rowan Robinson's 1996 tome The Great Book of Hemp gave the public a lot of new information, with a rather pleasing layout to boot. Since then one genre that has included a number of well-produced works is the cookbook category, including Denis Cicero's The Galaxy Global Eatery Hemp Cookbook, published in 2002.
While Cannabis sativa does get a lot of press attention, it is usually about marijuana or the medical cannabis issue. Some press was generated when John Roulac and Denis Cicero fought to keep hemp foods legal. One thing that became apparent from reading newspaper and magazine articles was that reporters often knew next to nothing about hemp or could care less. Therefore, the articles were often short and useless, or tinged with doper jokes.
Perhaps the best article written so far on hemp is Lee Green's "The Demonized Seed", which appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine on 18 January, 2004.
The hemp movement has itself issued its own press, including Hemp Times in the 1990s and Hemphasis rather recently. Both have ceased publishing. Two peer reviewed periodicals that are cover hemp are the Journal of Natural Fibres and The Journal of Industrial Hemp. Both are published by the Haworth Press in New York State. The former is edited in France, the latter in Poland. Both will have up-to-date scientific information and are the backbone of hemp literature for the industry. Another industry publication is the newsletter of the Hemp Industries Association, based in California.
In this internet age, it is not surprising to find hundreds of sites on google which have some hemp related content. They vary from the more newsworthy and scientific to the poorly written diatribes on skunk.
There is a select bibliography at the end of Hemp for Victory, including a number of websites. An exhaustive annotated bibliography is in the works for future release, presently containing hundreds of books and hundreds of articles.
For anyone interested in gathering information for articles or building a hemp book library, feel free to contact Yves de Saussure at:

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