The makers of the pro-hemp documentary film “Bringing It Home” are on a mission to show the world how the U.S. government has played a huge part in separating $450 million a year from our nation and its farmers. Filmmakers Linda Booker and Blaire Johnson carefully showcase a litany of failings and obstructionist measures — committed by every administration from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama — to keep the cash crop out of American hands.
The film skillfully conveys how hemp, marijuana’s non-psychoactive sibling, has been misperceived and miscategorized in the U.S. ever since the advent of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. That law, which first classified hemp as a Schedule I drug along with marijuana, heroin, cocaine and LSD, effectively robbed the U.S. of one of its greatest agricultural cash cows in modern history.
Booker and Johnson — while soberly elucidating the sensible rationale behind why the U.S. should legalize hemp — aren’t all dry statistics and biased data. They demonstrate how extensively hemp products are used around the world as textiles, building materials, food products, bio-plastics and auto parts. As examples, they show that BMW proudly constructs their durable interior door panels from hemp and Doc Bronner’s soap uses hemp oil for its moisturizing properties.
The filmmakers also identify countries whose governments not only permit industrial hemp farming but actively encourage it. China, Uruguay, Canada, the United Kingdom, Romania and Switzerland all sell popular hemp products to U.S. consumers at a premium rate.
The documentary isn’t without moments of wit, too, like one amusing interview with a hemp manufacturer in the United Kingdom who tells of rebutting a misguided governmental claim regarding hemp and terrorist plots.
“Officials feared that in Ireland the paramilitary might rob hemp from farmers and sell the drugs for weapons,” he says. “I used to tell the government to let them sell the hemp — it’ll spoil their reputation as drug dealers.”
There are more than a few convincing moments in the documentary with building contractors praising the efficacy of hemp products like “hempcrete,” a mixture of hemp and lime that’s used in place of concrete. Although the production of lime used as a binding agent leaves a regrettably large carbon footprint, one farmer was baffled upon discovering that mixing hemp and lime together actually creates a carbon negative product. He admits he had his engineers run the numbers several times, worried that they had calculated incorrectly, which in the end they had not. It turns out that hemp has the ability to lock up enormous amounts of carbon.
Watching this film, it’s easy to see how the hemp train went off the tracks with the Controlled Substances Act and has remained there to the present date. Repeated governmental mismanagement of this lucrative natural resource has bordered on the comical — displayed in one instance in the film with an American graduate student who says the U.S. government made it so difficult for her to study hemp that she opted to look for funding from the Canadian government, who subsequently awarded her $80,000 to study hemp for Canada.
“Bringing It Home” does a great job illuminating the value of hemp — hopefully getting America one step closer to bringing the beneficial plant back to the U.S. and our nation’s farmers.[Originally published in issue 13 of Cannabis Now Magazine.]