I’ve believed in hemp for a long time, since I read The Emperor Wears no Clothes by Jack Herer, who was a driving force in the hemp movement.
I read the book in the mid-1990s and I read it as one of those environmentalists who saw hemp as this sustainable crop.
The Marijuana Tax Act in 1937 was the beginning of the demise of hemp growing in the US. There was a resurgence in the second world war when the government made Hemp for Victory, a film to encourage farmers to grow hemp because it was useful for sails, clothes, things like that.
It’s really good fabric, it has really strong fibres. Cotton is responsible for 50% of all pesticide use in the US. The whole point is to stay away from all these pesticides.
There are around 45,000 different uses for hemp. I ran my bus on it; economically speaking it wasn’t great, but I did it to prove it could be done.
Here, the government equates hemp with marijuana. It looks like it. In 1996 I planted hemp seed … I did go to trial but it got jury nullification … there was no point punishing me. It’s illegal everywhere in the US but industrial hemp only has a very small amount of THC. It’s just farming. They grow it in at least 30 countries.
Interview by Jo Adetunji