David Bronner among those arrested for planting hemp at DEA HQ

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator October 13, 2009

    (Huffington Post) A group of civilly-disobedient hemp farmers and business leaders were arrested Tuesday morning while digging up the lawn to plant industrial hemp seeds at the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    David Bronner, the president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a more than 60-year-old company that does tens of millions of dollars of business annually, was among those arrested.

    Bronner buys the hemp used in his soaps from Canadian farmers. He was arrested outside the DEA museum, which shares space with the headquarters.

    “Our kids are going to come to this museum and say, ‘My God. Your generation was crazy. What the hell is wrong with you people?'” he said as Arlington County Police handcuffed him and walked him to a waiting car.

    Wayne Hauge and Will Allen, farmers from North Dakota and Vermont respectively, brought shovels and seeds to the protest, where they were joined by representatives of Vote Hemp, which advocates for federal legislation that would allow states to craft their own hemp policies.

    Currently [eight nine] states — Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, [Oregon,] Vermont, and West Virginia — allow industrial hemp production or research, but federal law, which requires nearly-impossible-to-obtain-permits to grow hemp, trumps those state laws. A bill introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) would allow states to craft their own policies.

    Of all the insanities in the War on (Certain American Citizens Using Non-Pharmaceutical, Non-Alcoholic, Tobacco-Free) Drugs, the ban on industrial hemp is the looniest. We have the Drug Enforcement Administration enforcing a ban on something that is not a drug! They’ll tell you that by strict interpretation of the law, hemp does contain THC, so it has to be banned, even though the THC contained in hemp is so minute that you could literally burn a field of the stuff and not catch the slightest of buzzes.

    They’ll tell you that if hemp were legal, growers of illicit high-THC pot would hide their crops in-between the rows of hemp. Any farmer can tell you that what you’d get is cross-pollination; the hemp would ruin the high of the pot and the pot would ruin the strength of the hemp.

    Then they’ll tell you that if hemp were legal, law enforcement would be burdened trying to determine which fields were hemp and which were pot. This doesn’t seem to be a problem for the police in China, Australia, Canada, or most of Europe, however, as they seem to be able to tell the difference between a tall, reedy hemp plant and a short bushy pot plant without much difficulty. Maybe our American cops are just too stupid to handle basic botany.

    The ban on hemp remains for two reasons. One is to protect the entrenched business interests that would stand to lose market share to legal hemp crops. Hemp can produce anything you can make from a tree or a barrel of oil, and do it cheaper, make it better, and cause less environmental damage along the way. Hemp paper resists oxidation far better than wood paper. Hemp pressboards are as strong as steel and save our forests. Hemp seed oil has the highest energy value of any seed oil crop – all current diesel engines can run on hempseed oil with no modifications required. Hemp seed is one of nature’s highest protein foods and a source of important anti-oxidants. Hemp cloth is impervious to mildew, repels water, and holds heat better, and requires no pesticides. Can you begin to imagine all the companies that would lose money if forced to compete fairly with hemp?

    And the second reason is psychological. If hemp is legal, cannabis is just a plant. It’s a subtle thing, but under the current framework, the government can tell us cannabis is an evil drug. But if hemp is legal, then sometimes cannabis is an evil drug and sometimes it is just a plant. Once cannabis is sometimes just a plant, it is harder to scare people into thinking it can be evil.

    We are approaching the 400th anniversary of the first colonial hemp plantations in North America. Hemp is our American heritage – this country exists because of hemp and our entire history is infused with its cultivation and use. The forces that combined to ban hemp in the 20th Century have stolen our very birthright and declared nature itself to be illegal.

    70 responses to “David Bronner among those arrested for planting hemp at DEA HQ”

    1. David says:

      Russ, this is one of your best pieces yet. Keep up the good work! We should be celebrating hemp at this very moment for everything it does for us!

    2. AP says:

      Dear God! They went it alone, people! They went it alone and were arrested!

      We must all be that brave! To march up to the DEA headquarters and take them on directly was very heroic!

      But, we should increase our numbers! We should be at the level of Gandhi’s “March to the Sea” to cultivate “illegal” salt from the Indian Ocean.

      We, friends, can join in a “March to the Seed”. A civil act to plant a seed, regardless of whether it will grow – why? To provoke a response from our federal government!!!

      We, as these brave soldiers should have, should tell everyone before we march. The press, our friends, our family, and our government. Tell them our intentions, and gather peacefully to make good on our promise! No surprises, only the revelation of a national injustice!

      NORML, will you help us?!

    3. Shawn says:

      think its time to shed a little blood for lady liberty… Its time to start forcing our views onto society. By pen or sword!!!!!

      [Editor’s note: Um…no. Please don’t make posts to NORML’s blog that encourage violence…The pace of cannabis law reform is not satisfactory for most cannabis consumers and law reform supporters, but violence born of frustration will not advance the cause for ending cannabis prohibition.]

    4. Mark Godfrey says:

      Unbelievable. I’m shocked at the moxie of these brave and couragous patriots. The world needs more people and events like this.

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    6. mntnman444 says:

      Once again I am asking NORML to find out if Obama’s decision to not waste federal tax dollars on raiding medical marijuana dispenseries in states where it is legal also applies to hemp farms in states where hemp farming is legal.
      More importantly I want to know Obama’s policy on hemp farming by Native Americans on sovereign land.
      I posted this question on Obama’s website change.gov but we all know how that farce worked out.
      I think a challenge by Native Americans now that Obama is in office might yield more successful results than what Alex White Plume experienced under Bush.
      I think NORML is one of the few organizations that could get the ball rolling on this idea but they seem to have little interest in the hemp issue.

      [Editor’s note: Since the late 1990s there are hemp-specific law reform organizations (i.e. Votehemp, HIA, NAIHC, etc…) that regularly ask ‘legalization’ and ‘medical’ organizations to NOT get steeply involved in hemp lobbying, which groups like NORML, DPA, ASA, SSDP, etc…have largely obliged in deference to their reform strategies and hard work.

      Today’s well-conceived protest today in support of American farmers to cultivate industrial hemp by David Bronner, et al deserves uber-kudos for what will be an interesting p.r. and legal battle with the DEA. An Obama DEA/DOJ….Stay tuned!]

    7. Joel: The other Joel says:

      Does Presidnet Obama cares?

    8. SB says:

      Shawn: no. no blood. don’t post anything like that again.

      AP: yes. we should all be doing things like this. planting a seed is not a crime.

    9. mntnman444 says:

      Thank you for that info.I didn’t know VoteHemp wanted you to stay out of it.I get the VoteHemp newsletter and have written them about the Native American issue but never got a response.I think I understand their reason for not wanting to be connected with the marijuana issue but we do have to stick together.
      Thanks NORML for all you do!

    10. Stompedonmyrights says:

      How many of us out on planet earth have thought these words, “Our kids are going to come to this museum and say, ‘My God. Your generation was crazy. What the hell is wrong with you people?’”, We said this to ourselves or others over these long years of crazy insane unjust behavior of our employees. What will our child think when they get left with it’s mess?
      The fact that the government just outlawed the hemp farmers in America, never took the moment to ask them represents how the Constructive Fraud upon the poeple has caused a public harmed and is damaging to the health and welfare of the Nation. Arresting these folks clearly violates the equal protection right secure in the people.
      We must wake up the government just like these folks who were arrested, let this crazy shit thrown into the light.