I jotted down some thoughts today about weed, hemp, and life in general.
I love weed. It is one of the most physiologically versatile plants on the face of the earth. It's been traced back through the annals of history as a companion to humans. Hemp pulp was hammered out into sheets of paper long before the words for that paper existed. Hemp seeds are per weight one of the most proteinaceous foodstuffs (finally got to use that word!) on the planet. Hemp fibers are exceptionally long due to the fact that the stem of hemp can grow to about 20' despite being only 3-4 inches thick at it's thickest point. Hemp is a natural detoxifier and is thus the perfect rotating crop. Hemp can grow in a wide range of soil pH, and will flourish in soil that any other plant would never take root in because it is devoid of nutrients. During the course of it's growth the hemp plant will impregnate the soil with nutrients. If hemp were incorporated into crop rotations, no field would ever be unused. After the nutrients had been depleted by a crop like corn or peas, Hemp could take root and re-vitalize the soil. On top of this revitalization, the crop produced from the hemp field would fetch an attractive price in many different markets. Further increasing the profit margin, the whole process of growing and selling hemp requires just 20 hours of labor/acre. That includes seeding the land all the way up to packaging the harvested plants for shipping.
There's no magic bullet that will take away the effects of years of outsourcing and hedge funds on the economy. One thing is for sure though, if the US has any hope of re-emerging from the current economic bog, we need to increase the hell out of the Gross Domestic Product. What better way to do this than with the help of hemp.
But then we get the inevitable weed-bashing. The anti-"drug" commercials, which shouldn't even pertain to weed as there are much more pressing substance abuse problems. Go into any semi-affluent highschool in the nation right now and you will see that kids are no longer just smoking weed. They're reading about prescription drugs online and raiding their parents medicine cabinets accordingly. I've even heard of parties where there's a big candy bowl filled up with random uppers, downers and what have you.
Sure there's the stigma that smoking weed makes you lazy and robs you of your motivation...and that's partially true. But to those kinds of kids who are smoking just to be entertained, weed is just the same as another drug. This is the real problem that should be stopped. Ripping a bong until your lungs are flat is just the same as drinking simply to black out, but with arguably fewer bad effects.
Smoking weed for me isn't about seeing how much I can get the room to spin. A good friend once told me that getting high is all about just putting on your thinking cap. It struck me as an eloquent way to sum up the millions of individual effects of weed on the brain.
The glory of ganja is it's partnership with learning. I can read a textbook for two hours to memorize cell processes and patterns of chemical reactions, but when I put the book down and smoke a bowl, I start to think about how those things relate to the big picture.
Pine trees are impossible. Well, more like improbable. But when you get to thinking about what is needed for a pine tree to grow out of the ground, it seems damn near impossible that there's enough of the things in the world that millions of people cut them down and post them up in their living rooms once a year. Next time you see a pine tree with cones on it, walk as far away from it as you can while still being able to see the cones. You'll notice that the cones seem to be concentrated towards the top of the tree, even though there were clearly cones on the bottom branches too. The cones on the top of the tree (the bigger ones) are female cones. The male cones are located on the lower part of the tree, and there's a reason for this. The male cones release pollen grains, and if one of these pollen grains were to find it's way into a female cone on the same tree....well then it would hold true to the old saying "it's all in the family". Incest is looked down upon because it leads directly to genetic mutation.
The female cones being located on the top of the pine tree is an evolutionary adaptation, since the trees whose female cones were randomly located higher up on the tree developed less mutations and more readily passed on their genetic material.
But why are pine trees improbable? For the answer we look to the male cones. As I said above, the male cones release a pollen grain containing two sperm cells. I'll assume that we can follow a single pollen grain, and that it is one of the lucky ones that actually hits its' mark. The pollen grain is released and is grabbed by the wind. The wind takes the pollen grain to the upper branches of a pine tree over a mile away, or rather a pine tree over a mile away happens to be in the path of the pollen grain.
The pollen grain has to land in a distinct spot of sap on the bottom of one of the flakes of a female pine cone. Once it lands, one sperm cell begins tunneling through the flake of the pine cone, eventually reaching the ovule located in the cone. When I say eventually, I really mean it, because this step can take up to 2 years to complete. Once the sperm tube is complete, the other sperm cell travels down it towards the ovule, and begins fertilization. This stage can take up to 15 years!!! When fertilization is complete and the ovule is shed (assuming it doesn't succumb to weather or animals looking for a treat) and the seed falls to the ground where it faces next to impossible odds that it will actually take root. Once the seed takes root, it spends years as a perfectly sized snack for all manner of forest creatures. Assuming it makes it past all of those odds, it now must combat lightning, logging, mudslides and floods, harsh winters, and human neglect in order to become a tall pine tree.
When I'm high (as I am right now) my mind dwells on that learned information and then branches out on tangents. Weed is something that will mature as I mature. It's not something I will grow out of, since it complements every part of my life.
Colorado University @ Boulder, 4/20/09; 4:20pm