Saturday, November 11, 2006

A good cash crop for the southern states...

As Slater in Dazed and Confused said about George Washington growing hemp at Mt Vernon...

Huh? Why the heck are you talking about marijuana, Bob?

Here's the story - I'm considering growing grain sorghum as a double crop after wheat next year. I posted the question to an ag discussion group, whereby I got a reply from a farmer in SE Iowa who successfully did this. I asked him the name of the seed company, he gave it to me, and I did a search on it in Google.

However, right below the RIGHT seed company listing was another company with a very similar address (.net vs .com) that was selling marijuana seeds out of British Columbia. I'm not posting the address for obvious reasons.

For the price of a bag of seed corn with all the seed traits (Roundup ready, rootworm protected, cornborer protected, insecticide treated) ~ $190/bag, one can buy 10 seeds of various marijuana plants. Heck, they've got the names, growing characteristics, size, expected yields, etc just like a seed corn catalog! A bag of seed corn has 80,000 kernels, and can cover 2.75 acres. I haven't a clue how many MJ plants could go on an acre, but the cost would probably be in the hundred thousands! I assume one would use the 10 seeds as starter plants, then multiply them as need be.

Now, I know very little about marijuana - even while at Iowa State, as I was going through Resident Assistant training, I didn't know what MJ smelled like, so the Ames police had to burn some "fake" MJ so we all could identify it. I can't point to a period of time when I was knowingly around pot - I guess I lived a sheltered life...

But, being a businessman, I'd have to say this: If the government were to legalize MJ, the price of those seeds would drop on a magnitude of 100 or more. Heck, even if the government put a "sin" tax on the pot, the refeerheads would still get their pot cheaper than now, grower facilities could expand and become part of the corporate agriculture landscape, and the government coffers would overflow from this new income. A win-win-win situation...

...except for late night fast food workers who have to deal with more doobie brothers having the munchies.

Let me say this: I am not for the legalization of ALL currently illegal drugs. Heroin, LSD, meth, cocaine should stay illegal. However, I would be open to looking into decriminalizing FIRST industrial hemp (very low THC), then possibly marijuana. I think some frank discussion needs to take place between those who want to grow and use the product and law enforcement. Yes, the government will want to get its tentacles into legalization as much as possible, and that may have to be the trade-off.

I think a healthy, realistic debate needs to take place on legalization of hemp and marijuana. Jay and Silent Bob, or Rev Green, need not apply, however.

BTW, Dazed and Confused is an awesome movie. It and Office Space are two of my favorites...Smokey and the Bandit ranks right up there, too.


Anonymous FromRight2Left said...

Nice Post! I've blogged about it on my Iowa City Press-Citizen blog and added you to my blog roll. Usually your stuff seems pretty conservative, but I did notice that 'Atlas Shrugged' is on your favorite books list. It is nice to see other people with libertarian leanings representing the Iowa blogging world.

12:15 AM, November 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank god you haven't KNOWINGLY been around any marijuana ever, because probably you and about every other farmer in Iowa has been UNknowingly raising great crops of it for generations.

Iowa must already be one of the biggest marijuana /hemp raising states in the nation—tons of the stuff, all going to waste. Some years it appears to be the major fence row weed. What do the dairy cows know that the farmer doesn't? And what's really going on with that new-fangled "grass"-fed beef that I've been hearing about?

Industrial hemp is where it's at for today's farmers, not marijuana, which would be a small specialty crop, even after full legalization. Canadians legalized hemp in 1998 and have huge industrial hemp fields. Here in the U.S. my local 7-11 stocks six packs of hemp beer. Canadian products are also being sold in the U.S. in cosmetics, clothing, and a number of food products such as protein supplement drinks, where powdered cannabis has a very favorable balance of protein and linoleic oil and omega fatty acids. (And does not contain drug test-triggering levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC.)
"30–35% of the weight of hempseed is oil containing 80% of the unsaturated essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic acid (LA, 55%) and linolenic acid (ALA, 21–25%). These are not manufactured by the body and must be supplied by food. The proportions of linoleic acid and linolenic acid in hempseed oil are perfectly balanced to meet human requirements for EFAs, including gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). Unlike flax oil and others, hempseed oil can be used continuously without developing a deficiency or other imbalance of EFAs. Hemp also contains 31% complete and highly-digestible protein, 1/3 as edestin protein and 2/3 as albumin protein. Its high quality Amino Acid composition is closer to "complete" sources of proteins (meat, milk, eggs) than all other oil seeds except soy." --see Wikipedia link below.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture has an informative site at and Wikipedia has, as usual, a lot of good information: with links to many other sources.

The Canadian government grows something like 100 or 200 tons per year of medical marijuana under lights in abandoned mines, plus there are plenty of entrepreneurs growing their own under medical licenses. I recently saw an article that the government had doubled its medical production and was increasing it again.

Medical marijuana is also being openly produced under the auspices of several city and county governments in California, although a number of them have been harassed and sometimes shut down by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

12:35 PM, November 12, 2006  
Blogger bgunzy said...

I should correct myself - we did have "ditchweed" growing around our farmstead when I was a boy. We cut it down and burned it in our burn pile, which just happened to be next to a pasture...those cows were quite content for a while...

Mango, correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the ditchweed variety we are familiar with be of greatly less potency than the highly managed pot that is grown under grow lights in people's basements? Also, would it not be of less industrial use than the industrial vareties?

3:53 PM, November 12, 2006  
Blogger bgunzy said...

In addition, my grandfather, near Rockwell, IA, grew hemp in 1943 for the US government. He was probably pursuaded by the "Hemp for Victory" film that the USDA denies today ever existed.

6:43 PM, November 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As every Iowa teenager curious enough to try it knows, ditchweed is a worthless smoke because it is so much less potent.

Ditchweed is escaped industrial hemp, from the days it was grown for rope fiber. Wisconsin had a big hemp fiber industry, and I believe it was planted in Iowa during WWII with strong government support. (The last surviving original of a much-reproduced poster "Hemp for Victory" was supposedly found in Iowa.) No doubt there has been some further genetic refinement since then--the Canadians list a number of cultivars--but essentially it's the same stuff as grandaddy grew for rope.

It's carefully checked to make sure that the THC levels stay below their legal minimum.

Botanists, including a USDA scientist who has grown drug plants and testifies for the prosecution at trials around the country, have long maintained that hemp/marijuana is all the same species, Cannabis sativa. They want to keep viewing it that way.

But research by Paul Mahlberg and his students at Indiana U. argues for two separate species, the second being Cannabis indica.

The popular literature of smokers also refers to a third, Cannabis ruderalis.

I presume that all three, whether called species or varieties, could be bred to have high or low THC. Aside from low THC, a primary distinguishing characteristic of ditchweed is that it grows tall, thus producing more of the long fiber desired. So in that sense it is of more industrial use than the shrub-like indica.

In the very early 1970s an apparent locally-grown strain appeared around Cass County and achieved legendary underground status. Called "Cramer's Shit" it was a fantastically popular smoke with stories of its potency still persisting today. No one knows where it came from or where it went, whether it was native or imported, or whether it ever really existed at all. Perhaps it was just a powerful legend like the Indian Ghost Dance, but whatever its provenance the legend inspired local hippies and others to begin saving their seeds and sowing them in surreptitious SW Iowa gardens and beyond.

8:28 PM, November 12, 2006  
Anonymous bearhollow said...

At Iowa in the late 60s/early 70s, a small amount of grass could be scored between classes.
Gentle Thursday was recognized even at Joe's Place.
North on HW 6 was an acreage where dairy cows came up to the fence, drawn by the music in the evening.
Then I woke up and realized I needed to get a job.

9:39 PM, November 13, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is unfortunate is that much of the “ditch weed” and wild MJ that the DEA, narc task forces and military (in violation of posse comitatus) are destroying in the Midwest and Iowa and Missouri in particular are the seed stocks and genetic storehouse of the hemp strains going back hundreds of years. These were developed over centuries from our first colonists to as late as WWII when the government asked farmers to plant hemp. These idiots are destroying the plants and aren't even making an attempt to save the seeds. The genetic material is being lost forever. Years of careful breeding of plants to acclimate and adapt to our climate and soils such are being lost out of sheer ignorance and hysteria. It's like something out of the middle ages. It's a worse crime than all the dope smoking throughout the ages combined.

As for the rest of the drugs. I'm more frighted of the drug police than I am of the drug users. We have been fighting the so-called war on drugs for a century or more now with no success but the loss of Freedom and Liberty has been catastrophic. Return drugs to their pre-drug war status and the problem is much less complicated as you aren't involving the police and the courts and the government. Not only that you wouldn't have SWAT teams breaking into innocent citizens home's and killing them with impunity on a shockingly regular basis. Don't believe me? I dare you to read this entire report. Not just the summary - The entire report.:

Re-decriminalazation is an idea whose time a come again. Get the government and law enforcement out of it. It's hideously expensive. It obviously doesn't work since we've tried it for over a century now with no success. The only thing it has done is raped Liberty and Freedom like nothing else in our history.

Not coming from a doper but from a non-drinker who doesn't even drink coffee.

3:00 AM, November 15, 2006  
Anonymous Hemp Aficionado said...

North Dakota will be licensing farmers to grow industrial hemp starting January 2007. No doubt this will create some kind of federal conflict.

Iowa has also considered legislation that would remove state barriers to commercial hemp farming, but efforts have fallen short. It would be great if, in 2007, the Iowa legislature could come out with a simple resolution expressing its interest in the crop's potential, stating support for ND's efforts and urging Congress to resolve the issue--in favor of the farmers.

11:35 PM, December 06, 2006  
Anonymous Hemp Aficionado said...

BTW, the Iowa Farm Bureau passed a pro-hemp resolution back in 1996. I don't think it's current anymore, though.

11:55 PM, December 06, 2006  
Blogger Chuck said...

Philosophically, I see no difference between legalizing Marijuana, and legalizing all drugs.

12:42 AM, February 12, 2008  
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