These Ozark Hills: Out Of The Dark, Smoking


Here’s another post, or quite possibly a rant, discussing a matter of general interest and on topic for most folks these days.

If you’re a stalker, I mean lurker, I mean follower of this blog (all three are welcome, of course), you will notice that it starts out just like the last entry, but then veers off.

It was actually the draft version of the radio essay at one time. But then I was reminded by my radio minder, Jennifer Davidson, that the subject into which I had veered off into, namely marijuana legalization, is quite probably going to be voted on here in Missouri this year.

That makes it political, and as much as I’d love to be political, it just isn’t kosher on public radio to vent political opinions in a show ostensibly about the Ozarks.

Well, I knew that, I just didn’t know it was coming up for a vote here. Marijana Legan in MO? Amazing.

If, and it’s a big if, that were to happen, there are, I imagine, quite a few entrepreneurs making plans even now to make a quick, and brief, killing by harvesting and selling ditch weed hemp.

Let the buyer beware. I’m more interested, at my age, in seeing a revival of industrial hemp, which has a high probability of being a second economic and environmental boon for our state and national health. Will it be a success in Missouri? Heck, it grows wild here.

By now you may have begun to notice that some of my more recent little radio essays have been sounding vaguely familiar. That’s because they were.

I have been on an unintended sabbatical from this show since about September of last year. Or maybe int was August. After getting verification that I was experiencing a return of endometrial cancer in mid-July, things outside my concern for my possibly impeding mortality got a little hazy — irrelevant, one might even say.

I notified the folks here at KSMU that I would be going on hiatus for an indefinite period, and instead of wishing me well and sending me on my way, they said, no, they would just save my space for me.

How would they do that, I asked, and Jennifer Moore, now Davidson, just smiled and said “Reruns.” It was a huge gift, and I am more grateful than I can say.

So today’s news is, I’m back, and I’ll be back until I fall over or they throw me out for excessive doddering.

The only changes of note since I’ve been away are that I’m not as strong as I was, my hands shake, I am inexplicably retaining tiny bits of implanted precious metals way deep in my innards, and I may still be somewhat radioactive.

Other than that, it’s just back to business. I have noticed of late that there seem to be signs of more shifts in our American perspective on how a society works.

In my more cynical moments, I have subscribed more to Murphy’s version of the Golden Rule – i.e. “Whoever has the gold makes the rules.”

And it is just that principle that seems to have brought the Drug War to its knees. It wasn’t that people in Washington and Colorado suddenly became comatose or wandered the street aimlessly, eating everything in sight.

It was the money.The sheer weight of it. When folks in other states began to hear of the vastness of the market, the enormity of the profits.

And the taxes. My god, the revenue it was hauling into state coffers. Now everybody’s beginning to want it.

Even Missouri, where marijuana seizures by law enforcement have been routinely boosted into highly inflated numbers by counting every stem of the wild hemp that has been a common roadside weed, unharvested since the 1930s when “Reefer Madness” captured the national imagination and killed the once-thriving industrial hemp industry.

One year while I was still a newspaper reporter, I remember unearthing a report issued by state officials which admitted that of the several thousand plants seized that year, only 600 were believed to have been planted by anyone other than birds and the wind.

I don’t think it was intended for publication, but we ran it anyway.

That all seems a long time ago, but there still remain those of us old enough to remember when hemp was a cash crop that nobody smoked, but was used primarily to make rope and cloth that was virtually indestructible.

Hemp fibers are stronger by weight than steel. It is by far superior to wood pulp for the manufacture of paper. Its oils can be used in a variety of ways from paint to industrial solvents and lubricants. All that aside from the discovery or the rediscovery of its uses in medical science for the relief of intractable pain.

George Washington believed it to be the very stuff of survival. Thomas Jefferson grew and sold acres of it. But for smoking material, they both preferred tobacco.

Someday when you are old and I am but a memory of an older, more primitive time, you may find yourselves telling stories of the days when people could be imprisoned for years, sometimes decades, for daring even to possess tiny amounts of the miracle drug, the healing plant, the most valuable of resources, the very foundation of industry and environmental wisdom, the miraculous marijuana.

Those poor souls, you’ll say. I just don’t understand where they went wrong. What terrible malady possessed them that they made such terribly destructive decisions. Why on earth did they choose to suffer, when they could have been healthy, wealthy, and wise.

When it comes to mortality, I’m glad I won’t be around to answer that one.

MAR signature

About yarnspinnerpress

Story teller, retired journalist, author, folksinger, folklorist, gardener.
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4 Responses to These Ozark Hills: Out Of The Dark, Smoking

  1. Marie Steinwachs says:

    Seems to me it has been far more profitable to put people in jail, get lots of fancy equipment for rural law enforcement (don’t get me wrong, some of my most loved family are rural law enforcement, God bless em). The tables are turning, along with states discovering a new sources of revenues.

  2. R.L. Teeter says:

    I haven’t found that eating the hemp seeds, though they may be healthy, is a good idea. I bought some sort of baked goods with hemp seed as an ingredient and it was like chewing on an old rope. I tend more toward scones than old rope.

  3. Carol Taylor says:

    Two things I never thought I would see in my lifetime….gay marriage and legal marijuana!
    Maybe someday hemp will even replace gasoline.

  4. Josh Ege says:

    It’s great to have you back! I don’t get to hear on KSMU as much anymore, so I’m glad you put out TOH as a podcast. Your comments on hemp are some of the most eloquent I’ve read. Thanks for everything you do.

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