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"The people who cast the votes don't decide an election; the people who COUNT the votes do." -- Joseph Stalin

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cigarettes: a Tale of Government Corruption

Death with U.S. Government Approval

While we are on the subject of drugs, I came across an article from the Lowell Sun dated 1/11/1964 in which the US Surgeon General for the first time declared the health hazards of cigarettes and confirmed it is a major cause of lung cancer. We have since learned that cigarettes kill at least 400,000 users per year. At that rate, we have lost 18 million Americans due to cigarette smoking over that 45 year period. IT IS STILL LEGAL.

In fact, book after book has been written about the evils of tobacco. However, our government has been subsidizing Big Tobacco, whose products kill people -- in one way or another -- for over a century, with subsidies, then "Allotments". WHY?

Here is the 1964 newspaper article:

1964: Cigarettes declared health hazard

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Leonidas Terry today reported the findings of a federal panel which revealed that smoking may lead to major health problems. The ten member federal panel, chaired by Terry, spent 14 months evaluating more than 8,000 studies involving the effects of smoking on health.

"Smoking cigarettes is a health hazard that calls for corrective action – and is a major cause of lung cancer and other death-dealing disease, especially in men, a blue-ribbon federal panel reported today. In short, the panel indicated, the more you smoke, the greater your risk of an early death," reported The Lowell Sun on January 11, 1964. "The panel also linked cigarette smoking to peptic ulcers, to accidental deaths due to home fires, and to a reduction in size of babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy."

NOTE: Although this was not the first time someone in the medical or scientific community suspected tobacco as a possible cause of lung cancer, today's announcement was the first time the U.S. government officially warned against the dangers of smoking.
To contrast, Industrial hemp contains less than 1% of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Trying to get high on industrial hemp is akin to trying to get drunk on non alcohol beer -- it's not going to happen. Marijuana has never caused a single recorded death. You cannot OD. You simply fall asleep.

Hemp can be used to make virtually anything that is currently made of cotton, timber, or petroleum. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. Until 1883, more than 75% of the world's paper was made with hemp fiber.

In 1937 Popular Science magazine called hemp "The New Billion Dollar Crop." Then the big money people struck out to protect their interests. Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst led the crusade to ban hemp. Hearst owned millions of acres of prime timber land and a machine that simplified the process of making paper from hemp had just been invented. Hearst used his power as a publisher to create public panic about the evils of hemp and marijuana. Another big money player Pierre DuPont held patent rights to the sulfuric acid wood pulp paper process. In 1937 DuPont patented nylon rope made from synthetic petrochemicals. The big money people prevailed and near the end of 1937 Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. By placing a prohibitively high tax on hemp production it destroyed the industry. This was done to protect these big money interests of the timber, petrochemical, and cotton industries.

Hemp was briefly re-legalized during W.W.II. The U.S. government produced the movie "Hemp for Victory" to encourage farmers to grow hemp. Even 4H clubs were asked to grow hemp to help their country in wartime. The parachute that saved George Bush's life in World War II was made of hemp fiber.

Hemp is a product that can provide a tremendous jump start to our economy, which is in the dumpster. It can provide new manufacturing opportunities in a variety of industries and the resulting jobs would be a step in the right direction for our new President. A short 5-minute video made by Willie Nelson in 1991 presents the case. It's time to stop subsidizing corporate tobacco growers that produce a product that continues to kill Americans, and start by legalizing industrial hemp and decriminalizing marijuana -- a plant that kills nobody and that has been used for centuries by various cultures across the world as a medicine. Let's put an end to this foolishness once and for all.


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