Part 3: The Politics of Hemp Fuels

Image from It's Not Easy Being A Hemp Farmer.

Fuel of the Future?
The Economics, History and Politics of Hemp Fuels

by David Malmo-Levine

Part Three: The Politics of Hemp Fuels

"The forces keeping pot illegal are among the strongest in the world. They include the oil and petrochemical industries, liquor and tobacco companies, and the pharmaceutical industry. ... the truth is legalizing hemp would restructure our national economy and put more money in the hands of American farmers, while devastating the petrochemical industry - the major source of world pollution. They have billions of dollars and all the thugs and narco cops on their side, but the truth is on our side. One day the truth will prevail." -Steve Hagar, High Times publisher, Interview in High Times magazine, July 1990, (85)

“But the reason the pro-marijuana lobby want marijuana legal has little to do with getting high, and a great deal to do with fighting oil giants like Saddam Hussein, Exxon and Iran. The pro-marijuana groups claim that hemp is such a versatile raw material, that its products not only compete with petroleum, but with coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, pharmaceutical, timber and textile companies. It is estimated that methane and methanol production alone from hemp grown as biomass could replace 90% of the world's energy needs. If they are right, this is not good news for oil interests and could account for the continuation of marijuana prohibition.”
-Hugh Downs ABC News, NY, 11/90: (86)

“Why did they take it away? Because hemp is petroleum. It's big business again.”
Willie Nelson, 1991 (87)

"Remember, there is a 'THEY' and 'THEY' ARE out to get you. 'THEY' are the petrochemical pharmaceutical military-industrial trans-national fascist corporate elite son-of-a-bitches. ... the war against marijuana ... the war against this natural plant is their attempt to keep the farmers, the people ... and folks like you and me out of power ...." -
Gatewood Galbraith, "High Society" interview with David Malmo-Levine, Pot TV, 26 Oct. 2001 (88)

The anti-hemp team up to it's same old tricks. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA) sponsors ads against cannabis use in any form, a great help to those who want the hemp-industry's red tape to persist in Canada, and hemp prohibition to persist in the USA. The PDFA have many donors in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as all of the old anti-hemp team: Chevron and ExxonMobil (both previously Standard Oil), E.I. duPont de Nemours & Company, General Motors and even Ford (now turned to the dark side) all usually donate up to $30,000 per year. Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan and Citibank sometimes provide up to $15,000 per year. (89)

Election campaign contributions also ensure that hemp remains prohibited or over-regulated. The oil and gas industry donated $4,529,926 to the Bush presidential campaigns. The Automotive industry donated another $3,740,926. (90) From 1992-2002, energy-giant Enron contributed a total $3,021,108 to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Bush-Quayle ‘92 and George W. Bush 2000. (91) Not that the Bush administration wasn't already comfortable with the oil industry. Bush's father – George Sr. - was once a Texas oilman. Dick Cheney, Bush's VP, once ran Halliburton – the massive oil well construction and services corporation. Bush's Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, worked at (Rockefeller's) Chevron – they even named a tanker after her!

CIA – Corruption In America

"In a land not very far away from here
George W. Bush was drinkin beer
His daddy was head of the CIA
Now listen up close to what I say
The CIA worked for Standard Oil
And other companies to whom they're loyal
In a whole 'nother land by the name of Iran
The people got wise and took a stand
to the oil companies, ay ain't shit funny?
This is our oil, our land, our money
CIA got mad and sent false info
to Iraq to help start the Iran/Iraq wo'"

-The Coup, Pick A Bigger Weapon, 2006

The Bush and Rockefeller clans have been working together for about 100 years, when in 1908 Samuel P. Bush (great-grandfather to the current president) took over the presidency of Buckeye Steel Casting company from Frank Rockefeller (brother of John D. Sr.). (92) Both families have provided members of Skull and Bones – the Yale fraternity that helped to start the CIA. (93) On Mike Ruppert's website, a strong case is made that the CIA's main job is to divert black-market drug money to Wall St. (94) I myself have a variation on that theory. I believe the CIA's main job is to keep the oil companies in power by controlling drug profits and oil access. If they have to start wars (or in hemp's case, keep wars going) in order to do this ... it's all part of the job.One last interesting fact about the CIA. James Woolsey, ex-head of the CIA, now sits on the board of the North American Industrial Hemp Council. (95)

Most Wars are Oil Wars

“We must set the pace and assume responsibility of the major stockholder in this corporation known as the world.” - Leo Welsh, Chairman of the Board of Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon), 1946 (96)

Long ago, the U.S. State Department declared the Middle East oil was a "stupendous source of strategic power ... one of the greatest prizes in world history." (97) Oil played a part in many major wars over the last 100 years. The following are just a few of many examples. The first group of fighting men England deployed in the First World War was the Dorset regiment. In 1914, as the war began, this regiment was sent to Basra, Iraq, where they were joined by 51 other British divisions - to keep Germany from obtaining oil. (98) Germany had just one month of oil reserves left when it surrendered in 1918. (99)

By the mid 1920's, Germany's IG Farben (a cartel which included Bayer) had perfected a way to transform coal into “synthetic oil”. (100) Germany had no oil, but lots of coal. At the start of World War Two, fourteen synthetic fuel plants were in full operation, and six more were under construction. (101) For the Reich minister of armaments and war production Alan Speer, the May 12th, 1944 bombing of Germany's synthetic oil industry was the “turning point” in the war. (102)

In the 1953 Iran Coup D'etat (codenamed Operation Ajax and lead by the CIA) the UK and USA made sure the independent nationalist government of Iran was destroyed forever, so as not to threaten their access to Iranian oil. (103) Vietnam has over a billion barrels of proven oil reserves, and crude oil is their largest export. (104) Some have argued that it was the oil that the USA was after during the Vietnam war. (105) The first thing Dick Cheney did after coming to office in 2001 was to launch an “energy task force” to examine Iraqi oil maps and prospective corporate “Suitors for Iraqi Oilfields”. (106)

Some have argued that the 9/11 attacks were a self-inflicted wound to justify military involvements in the oil-rich Middle East. (107) A closer examination of the destruction of WTC 7 (the third building to fall on 9/11, a building not hit by an airplane, the third steel-framed skyscraper to fall from fire in history after WTC 1 and 2) reveals one of many reasons to doubt the official story.(108) On 9/11, Cheney was coordinating six “war games” for the Air Force – some of which involved hijack situations. Some have argued that it was these games that distracted the Air Force away from their job of escorting wayward airplanes. (109)

As a result of 9/11, we have the war in Afghanistan. Some critics are now calling this country “Pipelineistan”, as there seems to be much energy directed towards building a pipeline from the oil-rich Caspian Sea to US-friendly Pakistan. (110) There were attempts by the Bush administration to link 9/11 to Iraq – indeed, Rumsfeld was drawing up plans to strike Iraq within hours of the attacks (111) - but all attempts to find such a connection proved unsuccessful.(112) The administration invented other reasons to invade. There are now 14 permanent military bases on Iraqi soil, all located near the oil fields. (113) Given the above evidence, it seems that the rulers of the world would stop at nothing to control the world's energy resources. Keeping the war on cannabis users going to keep control of energy seems like par for the course, given all the other oil-wars these “petrocrats” have perpetrated.

It seems that these oil wars have gone on for a hundred years, with no end in sight. But there are two factors that are now coming into play that will very likely turn public opinion away from fossil fuels and towards alternatives such as hemp fuel. These two factors are 1) peak oil, and 2) climate change.

Peak Oil

“There was always the possibility, according to Kettering's friend Charles Stewart Mott, "that if a time ever came when the sources of [fossil] heat and energy were ever used up ... that there would always be available the capturing of... energy from the sun... through agricultural products ..." - Henry Ford, Charles Kettering and the Fuel of the Future, Copyright Bill Kovarik, Ph.D., 1998 (114)

Peak oil is the theory that once humans have reached maximum oil production, the price will get very high very fast, with possible catastrophic effects. Some observers suggest that the decline will prompt an economic and social meltdown on a scale last experienced in the Great Depression — or perhaps even the Black Death. (115)

Just imagine what would happen to you if your energy and fuel costs were to be three or four or five times that of what you are paying today. Now imagine the effect of that on a national or international scale. Already the price of synthetic oil has risen to its highest in over 50 years ... perhaps its highest ever. (116) At least one reputable source argues that peak oil came and went in December of 2005. (117)

There is every reason to believe Dick Cheney understood peak oil as far back as 1999, when he said “ 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from? ... the Middle East with two thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies ...” (118) Perhaps peak oil is how our elites justify their oil wars to themselves. For them, it's the only solution to rapidly running out of the types of energy reserves that are subject to monopoly and control. From a hemp activist's perspective, it is important to note that something can be done to prevent hardships coming from fossil fuel dependency and peak oil – but only if we act now, while energy is still relatively cheap.

Our society could work together to create ethanol factories and windmills and solar panels and urban gardens, while cutting back on energy waste and meat-eating. If, however, we wait until the crisis hits, we may be too late to make the transition. The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) announced on October 31st, 2006 that the U.S. production of biodiesel could reach 250 million gallons in 2006, triple the amount produced in 2005. (119) U.S. production of ethanol has surpassed the 4.5 billion gallon mark as of July 1, 2006. (120) While these facts are encouraging, we still have a long way to go to reduce the 20 million barrels of oil per day the US market consumes. (121)

Climate Change

“Each crop produces as much oxygen as it will later produce of CO2 if every bit of it is burned as fuel, creating a balanced cycle. Furthermore, hemp deposits 10 percent of its mass in the soil as roots and up to 30 percent as leaves which drop during the growing season. This means that some 20 to 40 percent more oxygen can be produced each season than will later be consumed as fuel – a net gain in clean air. Call it a “reverse greenhouse effect.”-Chris Conrad, Hemp – Lifeline to the Future, (122)

The other emergency surrounding the fuel debate is climate change. There is much evidence to suggest that the use of fossil fuels is creating a “greenhouse effect” in our atmosphere that has led to the melting of the icecaps and glaciers, an increase in the number and intensity of storms, floods and droughts, and a warming and rising of the oceans. Some people – including Germany's environment minister and Britain's deputy prime minister - consider the damage done by hurricane Katrina in 1995 to be caused by this human-made climate change.(123) The consensus that fossil fuels cause climate change is quite strong. Those who study peer-reviewed reports know this to be true. For example, one study pointed out that out of 928 peer reviewed articles dealing with climate change, none doubted global warming was the cause. (124) Exxon Mobil (the largest chunk of the Rockefeller empire) has been pouring millions of dollars into creating the illusion that there is still doubt as to the cause of climate change. (125)

I recommend that everyone who still has doubts about the human factor in climate change check out the film An Inconvenient Truth - or pick up the book version. It's quite convincing. As hemp activists, we need to inform ourselves about climate change, particularly about one of the solutions to prevent catastrophe: carbon sequestration. Plants remove carbon from the atmosphere by incorporating it into biomass through photosynthesis. The Kyoto Protocol on climate change calls for an increase in carbon sequestration. (126) Hemp is an ideal crop for carbon sequestration, as it both provides the cheapest bio fuel and reduces the greenhouse effect as it grows. But, like peak oil, the clock is ticking, as there is only so much time to start “sequestering” before the damage from climate change overwhelms the relief efforts. The time to change over to hemp fuel is now.

The solution is obvious: end cannabis prohibition, remove the red tape and switch subsidies Even with record windfall profits, the oil industry is still subsidized to the tune of roughly $6 billion per year in the US. (127) That's not including the additional taxpayer tab for the oil wars and climate change – hundreds of billions of dollars for each of those. Just think of how many ethanol fuel plants 6 billion dollars could build. We cannabis activists must join forces with the environmentalists and the anti-war crowd and demand that the energy subsidies are switched from oil to ethanol and other renewables. And we must encourage these other activists to vocally, financially and electorally support our efforts to re-legalize cannabis, remove all that red tape killing our hemp industries, and facilitate bank loans for projects such as hemp fuel plants, to give humanity a decent chance to replace these unsustainable fuel systems.

In conclusion ... some people laugh when I tell them I'm a cannabis activist for environmental and anti-oil war reasons. But it's absolutely true. So all you environmentalists and anti-war activists that have so far been silent about hemp better start to get noisy real soon, because ending the totalitarian war on cannabis and the cannabis community is probably the key to solving those other world-threatening problems. And for all you cannabis-lovers who are only focused on the medicinal or economic benefits of cannabis re-legalization, it's time to add “saving the environment” to your list ... because when you think about it, smog, oil wars and climate change are some of the biggest buzzkills imaginable.

Bibliography & Notes

Return to Part 2: The History of Hemp Fuels or read Part 1: The Economics of Hemp Fuel.