Thursday, February 01, 2007


Here I sit in London, thinking of Highway 101, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Monica...when lo' and behold there is a story on hemp in the Ventura County Star. At first a ray of sunlight pierces my foggy mood, but then I am let down by yet another reporter who does not bother with facts...and I just spent an hour yesterday dealing with Johann Hari and George Monbiot...I'm beginning to think there ought to be government licencing on journalism, as there is on the medical profession.

Stephen Schrader starts off with one blunder by saying that ethanol is expensive. Oh? Does he realise that this is what we drink in beer, wine, etc., and that it is a natural product that results when we leave plant wastes lying around? How high a wage do we pay someone to stuff a vat with wheat stalks and hemp hurds? And how much would a refinery pay for such material, considered garabage to begin with? Let's look at the reality of cheap raw materials and a simple processing operation.

Schrader then goes on to extol hemp based bio-diesel. Fine, I would welcome bio-diesel, only I would not recommend hemp for it; not that hemp is not an excellent plant for this, but as hemp oil is high in Omega 3,6 & 9 essential oils, and commands a price of several pounds or dollars a half litre, it would be folly to burn it in a fuel tank. Added to which is the fact that diesel has a high viscosity and gels in low temperatures. But then again he is writing in southern California, where the word snow does not exist, and perhaps the thought of a tank full of high protein biofuel full of Omega oils appeals...

Another point to query in this article is the assertion that hemp oil is a byproduct of processing hemp into paper and cloth. Absolutely not. The oil comes from the seeds, and these are not involved in the fibre processing. The fibres come from the stems, and these are harvested usually before the seed is ripe, as allowing the stems to go on too long causes them to harden.

Some strong points exist in the article, however, and when he talks about hemp replacing tree pulp and cotton, he is right on. In California deforestation and cotton cultivation pose great problems, with the latter requiring about 50% of all pesticides used. It also depletes the water supply.

But then Schrader ends on a completely wrong note when he asserts: "The down side of legalizing [sic] industrial hemp is that it brings along its "kissin' cousin", marijuana. The two plants are virtually indistinguishable to the casual observer."

Oh boy, this guy needs to go back to school. It is journalism like this that ought to be outlawed under sheer stupidity laws. Since when does a 8-16 foot high thin stalk look like a multi-branched 3 foot high shrub? He makes George Bush look smart! This is scary. Stupid journlists and stupid politicians are taking us over the edge...

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