Sunday, December 15, 2019


Keith Hunt

From Dr. Mercola
Far from being a total waste of time, play allows us to fine-tune our motor skills, develop social skills and emotional resilience and learn our limitations, and is actually essential for normal, healthy brain development. In animals, play even boosts their chances of survival. Sadly, the youth of today play nowhere near as much as previous generations. As noted in “The Power of Play,” children now play outdoors half as much as their parents did.
It is clear that nearly everyone will benefit from play time. After watching this documentary I realized my play time is being in the ocean most every day I am home and playing in the waves riding the surf. It is something I never seem to tire of. What is your play time?

Play Makes You Smarter, Kinder and Braver

The replacement of physical play with technological gadgetry has many experts worried, as research shows playing makes people smarter, braver and kinder. The documentary features Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, a nonprofit corporation “committed to bringing the unrealized knowledge, practices and benefits of play into public life.”1
As noted by Brown, play is hardwired into most animals, and even has a language of its own. When dogs play, for example, you’ll see a lot of play bows, paw slapping, tail wagging and so on. All of these are part of dogs’ play language. 
Importantly, animals will instinctively keep the play going without one taking over and dominating the other. There’s a distinct give and take in the interaction. It’s also infectious — it draws other participants in and encourages social interactions. 

5 Criteria of Play

So, what exactly is play? Gordon Burghardt, a reptile ethologist at the University of Tennessee, has come up with five criteria of play. As explained in “The Power of Play,” to qualify as play, the behavior must:
  1. Be done for no apparent reason
  2. Be done repetitively
  3. Sometimes in an exaggerated way
  4. Be spontaneous
  5. Be done when relaxed and not stressed
Burghardt came up with these criteria after learning about the importance of play and realizing — after careful observation — that even reptiles exhibit play behavior. Fish, another animal you wouldn’t necessarily think of as playful, also enjoy it and demonstrate these play behaviors. 

Play Is an Interspecies Form of Communication

Again and again, researchers are surprised by how common play is in the animal kingdom, and how it has the ability to bridge the gap between wildly differing species. One example featured in the video is the playful game that spontaneously developed between a giant Pacific octopus and a zoo handler.
While we don’t yet fully understand how, it’s clear that play allows us to communicate on a deep, nonverbal level with a whole range of life, not just our own species. “The impulse to have fun seems to cross all sorts of boundaries in the animal kingdom,” the narrator says.
Evidence of this continues to grow, as people film and share interspecies interactions on YouTube and social media. Seals and dogs, kangaroos and deer, cats and squirrels, elephants and birds — the examples of interspecies play go on. 

What Bonobos Can Teach Us About Play 

“The Power of Play” also features Elisabetta Palagi, a primatologist at the University of Pisa, Italy, who studies the play of bonobos. As one of our closest primate relatives,2 bonobos “can give us a lot of information about the development of our behavior,” she says. 
Interestingly, bonobos are known not just for their playfulness but also their peacefulness. They do not kill each other. When two groups of chimpanzees meet, they will fight to establish supremacy. When bonobos meet, they play. 
According to Palagi, play allows the bonobos to establish strong interpersonal bonds, and these bonds increase everyone’s chances of survival. She also points out that play is important for the development of social skills, and this is true both for monkey and humans. 
A major part of being able to interact peacefully within a social group is the ability to perceive and interpret the emotional states of others, and play allows youngsters to build and perfect this important skillset.

Play Fosters Empathy 

To assess how well bonobos can read each other’s emotions, Palagi records the bonobos’ reactions to avatars expressing various emotions. Yawning after you see another person yawning is a telltale sign of empathy, for example, and bonobos will do this as well.
Around the age of 4, human children begin exhibiting this kind of mimicking behavior. As explained by Palagi, mimicking or mirroring is a way to put yourself in the same emotional state as the other. 
Bonobos, she found, will repeatedly mimic the expressions of the avatars, which raises the possibility that it is their ability to read each other’s facial expressions that allows them to maintain such peaceful interactions.
Palagi points out that it’s still unclear whether empathy is the basis of play, or play the basis of empathy, but the two clearly appear to go hand-in-hand. Science is also starting to uncover the intricate connections between play and the development of compassion, and empathy plays a big role.

Not Just Practice for Adulthood

Researchers used to think play was little more than practice for adulthood, but more recent studies have found gaping holes in this theory. Kittens that play more than others do not become better hunters, for example, and bear cubs that play with their siblings still spend most of their adult life alone.
“Clearly, there’s more than meets the eye,” the narrator says. Research by Jonathan Pruitt, a behavioral ecologist at McMaster University, has helped shed more light on the purpose of play.
He studies social spiders — spider species that, contrary to the norm, will form large colonies and inhabit the same web. Of the 50,000 or so species of spider we know of, only 20 of them fall into this category.
Pruitt is particularly interested in the social spiders’ courtship play. Mature males will perform a courtship dance for immature females that are still too young to mate. In response, the female will enter a receptive posture, and the male will place his genitals on the outside of hers. This is repeated multiple times.
At first, Pruitt assumed this allowed the spiders to practice for mating in maturity, but as his studies continued, he began to believe that this behavior was simply a form of play — and a very important kind of play at that.
Pruitt and his team eventually discovered that females allowed to play in this manner produced much larger egg cases — and thus more offspring — than females that had been prevented from playing, and the size of the egg cases were in proportion to the amount of play they’d been exposed to. 
Females that play also live longer than those prevented from playing, and are less aggressive and less likely to kill their partner after mating. Pruitt has come to believe play has deep and purposeful evolutionary roots, as it appears virtually all over the animal kingdom. Indeed, it appears it may play a much more important role than we’ve ever imagined.

The Purpose of Play

Canadian research also provides significant clues about the purpose of play. As shown in the video, young domesticated rats will playfully attack each other, trying to get to the opponent’s neck. The opponent will roll and wrestle free. As in all play, the animals take turns during this mock-attack, rough-and-tumble play. 
In one experiment led by behavioral neuroscientist Sergio Pellis, juvenile rats were removed from other juveniles and raised with adult rats only, which are not prone to playing. What they discovered is that play-deprived rats fail to develop normal social skills. 
At the end of the experiment, the brains of the play-deprived rats were also examined, revealing underdevelopment in the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and decision making. In other words, play actually alters the prefrontal cortex of the brain. 
Compared to rats that played, the play-deprived ones also had disorganized neuronal growth and irregular neuronal cells. It was the biggest breakthrough of Pellis’ career, but it also caused him serious worry. If rat brains are unfavorably altered by lack of physical play, what’s happening to the children of our day? 
“My concern is that denying young children to engage in play has led them to not getting the kinds of experiences that actually prepare them to live effectively in an unpredictable world,” Pellis says.
He cites research showing that as childhood play has declined, rates of depression and psychopathology have increased. Pellis’ groundbreaking work is now being expanded on by University of Tennessee researcher Matthew Cooper, a behavioral neuroscientist, who is investigating the connection between childhood play and the “ability to deal with life’s hard knocks.”

Play Is Crucial for Development of Emotional Resiliency 

The prefrontal cortex plays an important role in our ability to deal with and bounce back from stress. Cooper works with juvenile Siberian hamsters, which instinctively engage in mock-attack play. Adult hamsters prefer solitude, and putting two of them together typically results in vicious fighting.
The loser suffers what’s referred to as “social defeat.” Normal hamsters, meaning those who have grown up play-fighting, will shrug it off and recover rather quickly. When faced with another opponent, it will fight to win again. 
Play-deprived hamsters, on the other hand, are far less resilient. After losing one fight, the play-deprived hamster simply submits when faced with another opponent. They act fearful and run away rather than defending their turf, which is suggestive of social anxiety.
“Whether it’s in the animal world or in the school yard, play helps us prepare to cope with life’s ups and downs,” the narrator says. “But the way children play has changed dramatically. A generation ago, it didn’t take much to have fun. A piece of rope. A few twigs. 
Children in the United States now spend less time outdoors than any previous generation — [just] four to seven minutes a day of outdoor play, versus 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen. And they’re missing out on a lot more than just fresh air and exercise.”

There’s More to Play Than Meets the Eye

Brown understood the importance of play long before there was science to back up his suspicions. In the past, it was considered unimportant and unnecessary, and if children could be doing something else, they should. We’re now starting to realize the true importance of play, and the ramifications of play-deprivation.
Having investigated the play background of 6,000 individuals, Brown has shown that having fun is indeed a serious matter. “What you find is that it’s necessary for a sense of optimism and fulfillment,” Brown says, “for a sense of competency, for a sense of authentic self.”
In short, play is important for the generation of well-being. Like Pellis, Brown is extremely concerned about the dramatic drop-off in play. He believes the lack of play we see in today’s children is a real crisis, and is at the heart of the shocking rise in mental health problems and behavioral problems among our youth.

The Risky Play Paradox 

Another remarkable and paradoxical scientific finding is that engaging in risk during childhood is a crucial factor of preventing injuries. As noted by Mariana Brussoni, a developmental psychologist at UBC/BC Children’s Hospital, by engaging in risky play, children learn how their bodies work, they discover what they’re comfortable with and what they’re not, and they learn their own limits and how the world works. 
In short, “they’re learning crucial risk-management skills,” Brussoni says. Far from keeping your kids safe, discouraging them from outdoor play can actually backfire, as play-deprived children fail to gain this fundamental knowledge, which places them at greater risk for serious injury — and phobias. 
A child that has never experienced climbing, for example, is far more likely to develop a fear of heights than a child who has explored and has gotten used to the “fear-fun” of heights. 
In short, the research strongly shows that risky play — play where there is a chance of injury and where the paths and outcomes aren’t certain — is important for character-building, emotional resilience and self-development. The sense of freedom that outdoor play brings also encourages creativity. 
Brussoni encourages parents to weigh the possibility of an unlikely event (your child being seriously injured) versus the very real impact that outdoor play-deprivation has on your child’s long-term mental and physical health and development.

It’s Time to Bring Back Outdoor Peer Play

Interestingly, Brussoni’s research also shows that children, especially girls, are far more likely to play outdoors when unsupervised. What this tells us is that having a sense of independence and self-determination encourages the willingness to be playful, and indeed, the opposite is precisely what feeds depression and anxiety. 
As noted in “The Power of Play,” outdoor play began diminishing in the 1980s, and those born around that time are now entering parenthood without the many fond memories of rough-and-tumble, sometimes risky peer play that their own parents grew up with. 
As a result, they’re less likely to understand the value of outdoor play, and less likely to encourage it. The end result could be that we’re entering a sort of amnesia, where people simply cannot remember what it’s like to play in the woods or climb trees, because they’ve never done it. 
And, far from being a loss of simple fun, this can have serious consequences for the health of future children, as it actually prevents the normal brain development necessary for empathy, compassion and personal well-being. The answer is self-evident: Encourage your kids to play, especially outdoors — and play more yourself too, regardless of your age. 
+ Sources and References

Saturday, November 30, 2019



Boyan Slat Unveils the Ocean Cleanup Interceptor

Analysis by Dr. Joseph MercolaFact Checked


  • Boyan Slat, a young Dutch entrepreneur and his group, The Ocean Cleanup, have invented an ingenious collection barge to clean plastic debris from our oceans
  • During its test run, the collection barge collected macro and micro plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • In October, The Ocean Cleanup unveiled a solar powered device called the Interceptor to remove plastic waste from rivers
  • Of the world's 100,000 rivers, 1,000 are responsible for most plastic that reaches the oceans. Interceptors have already been deployed in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Klang, Malaysia
  • The Interceptor may be the lowest cost way to remove plastic pollution and is especially cost effective in coastal countries where tourism and fisheries industries are prevalent

Boyan Slat, a young Dutch entrepreneur, and his group Ocean Cleanup have invented an ingenious collection barge to clean plastic debris from our oceans. When their barge, called System 001/B, was tested in June 2019 in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — the first plastic-ridden area Slat planned to tackle — it worked successfully.1
The patch, a trash vortex between the West Coast of North America and Japan,2 is twice the size of Texas.3 During its test run in the Garbage Patch, System 001/B captured visible pieces of plastic debris — sometimes called macroplastics — large ghost nets used with commercial fishing and even microplastics in its haul.4
On the basis of challenges discovered in its test run, The Ocean Cleanup team will begin to design an improved barge to be known as System 002. And, there is more good news about The Ocean Cleanup's efforts, detailed in the video, "Boyan Slat Unveils the Ocean Cleanup Interceptor."
In October, they rolled out an innovative and workable plan to turbocharge plastic cleanup efforts, pun intended.5 The group ascertained that about 80% of ocean plastic pollution comes from the world's rivers and they have developed a plan to target the 1,000 most plastic-polluting rivers with a new invention.6
The device, called the Interceptor, can collect 50,000 kilos (110,231 pounds) of plastic trash every day — equivalent to 1 million soda bottles, according to the featured video — and may collect up to 100,000 kg a day under perfect conditions.7 Two Interceptors have already been deployed — one in Jakarta, Indonesia, and one in Klang, Malaysia.8 Others are in the works.

Which Rivers Need To Be Targeted?

"When it rains, plastic washes from street to creek to river to ocean," Slat points out9 — a fact which seems pretty evident. But how can it be determined which specific rivers are the worst culprits and need to be targeted? After all, there are about 100,000 rivers in the world!
The Ocean Cleanup created a monitoring system that can be attached to a bridge, scanning for plastic that floats by. With the use of artificial intelligence, the system allowed The Ocean Cleanup team to automatically measure how much plastic was flowing out of a river. 
Based on that information, they were able to create an interactive global map model, the first of its kind, that ranks rivers on the basis of the amount of plastic pollution in them. 
It was soon discovered that a small fraction — only 1 percent — was causing most of the pollution, says Slat in his Interceptor presentation. If 100,000 rivers were contributing to plastic pollution, the cleanup task might be overwhelming. But since a relatively small number of rivers are responsible for most of the pollution, those 1,000 plastic-polluting rivers can be targeted with the new device.10

The Interceptor Is Accepted by Other Countries

Obviously, an ambitious plan to attack plastic river waste on an international scale needs the buy-in from world leaders as well as funding, and The Ocean Cleanup is securing both. 
Working with government leaders and private corporations, the team plans to install Interceptors in the 1,000 most-polluted rivers within the next five years.11 Those of us who are concerned about plastic pollution know that time is of the essence.
In addition to the Interceptors already installed in Malaysia and Indonesia, others are planned for the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.12 Thailand has also agreed to situate an Interceptor near Bangkok. 
The Ocean Cleanup has not neglected the U.S., which is clearly one of the world's major producers and disposers of plastic. It is currently in talks with officials in Los Angeles county, according to the video report. Though an Interceptor costs approximately $777,000 right now, The Ocean Cleanup predicts that costs will come down as production increases.13

The Challenge of Closing the Plastic Tap

River cleanup is crucial to solving the ocean plastic problem because removing existing plastic in the ocean is not enough, says Slat in the video.14
"To truly rid the oceans of plastic, what we need to do is two things. One, we need to clean up the legacy pollution, the stuff that has been accumulating for decades and doesn't go away by itself. But, two, we need to close the tap, which means preventing more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place. Rivers are the arteries that carry the trash from land to sea."
The Ocean Cleanup doesn't want to be "the garbage collector of the oceans," says Slat, though it would be a "pretty sustainable business model." Rather, The Ocean Cleanup's goal "is to put ourselves out of business."15
Still, judging by current pollution data, it will be quite a while before The Ocean Cleanup runs out of plastic garbage to collect. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a mere 9.1% of the plastic material generated in the U.S. municipal solid waste stream was recycled in 2015, and only about 30% of plastic bottles and jars were recycled.16,17 That is why The Ocean Cleanup's campaign is so important and urgent.

How Does the Interceptor Work?

According to the "Boyan Slat Unveils The Ocean Cleanup Interceptor" video, the Intercept system is anchored to the riverbed and makes use of the natural flow of the river to collect plastic debris as it floats by. 
Its barrier guides the plastic into the mouth of the Interceptor and a conveyer belt scoops the plastic out of the water. (Slat uses scores of little yellow rubber duckies in the video to demonstrate the system's effectiveness.) To prevent clogging, the belt has been made to be permeable and behind it is a flow channel that creates a suction effect.18
After the plastic has been funneled into the Intercept, the conveyer places the plastic in the "shuttle," a basket on wheels, which distributes the plastic across six dumpsters, sensing which ones are full or empty. Each dumpster can hold 50 cubic meters (1,765 cubic feet) of trash. 
When the dumpsters are full, the Interceptor signals through its internet-linked, onboard computer to local operators to bring a boat for towing the full barge so the plastic can be emptied and recycled.19 While the barge is removed from the river for emptying, the shuttle can still collect plastic, says Slat.

The Interceptor's Environmentally Sensitive Features

When you look at the Interceptor's features, it is clear The Ocean Cleanup team has thought through all the potential problems that could come from such a system including its environmental toll. 
For example, even though the Interceptor's floating barrier directs garbage into the system, it will usually only span part of the river so it will not interfere with the movement of wildlife and the safe passage of vessels. The Interceptor is able to do this because The Ocean Cleanup discovered through sensors that at certain points in many rivers, "all the plastic is flowing through this very narrow band," says Slat. 
This removes the need for the Interceptor to span the whole width of the river.20 Next, the Interceptor is powered by solar panels and onboard lithium-ion batteries that enable it to operate day and night with no human operator, and without noise or exhaust fumes.21
Finally, the nose of the Interceptor has been engineered to deflect large objects like trees that could enter the unit and harm the machinery. And, because the Interceptor is designed like a catamaran sailboat, it has a low center of gravity and is very unlikely to tip over. "It will stay upright no matter what," Slat says. 

Is the Interceptor Cost Effective?

The key metric to determine if a plastic cleanup method is practical is the cost per kilogram of plastic collected, says Slat. Because of the Interceptor's effectiveness and the fact that it is a "series produced product," it offers the lowest cost for such removal.
But there is another metric through which the Interceptor's costs should be analyzed, says Slat, and that is the cost to tourism and fisheries in coastal countries of doing nothing about plastic waste. 
Countries are "losing money every day" that they do not invest in plastic removal, he says. Dramatic before and after pictures of plastic-polluted and cleaned rivers during his presentation underscore the urgency of tackling plastic waste and the feasibility of deploying the Interceptor.
Plastic pollution take a huge toll on marine life, which often mistake the plastic bits for food. Chemicals used to make plastics disrupt hormones, embryonic development and gene expression, and are linked, in humans, to obesity, heart disease and cancer. It is estimated that humans are now eating, swallowing or breathing in about 2,000 pieces of microplastic a week, equal to the weight of one credit card.22

What Can You Do About Plastic Pollution?

While technology like the Interceptor is an encouraging step forward, each and every one of us has a responsibility and share the burden for putting an end to plastic pollution. Below is a sampling of strategies that can help:
Don't use plastic bags — use reusable bags
Make sure the items you recycle are recyclable (See this list.)
Use reusable shopping bags for groceries
Take your own leftovers container to restaurants
Bring your own mug for coffee, and bring drinking water from home in glass water bottles instead of buying bottled water
Request no plastic wrap on your newspaper and dry cleaning
Store foods in glass containers or mason jars rather than plastic containers and plastic freezer bags
Avoid disposable utensils and straws and buy foods in bulk when you can
Opt for nondisposable razors, washable feminine hygiene products for women, cloth diapers, handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues, rags in lieu of paper towels and infant toys made of wood rather than plastic
Avoid processed foods (which are stored in plastic bags with chemicals). Buy fresh produce instead, and forgo the plastic bags

+ Sources and References

Friday, November 29, 2019




On the news last night it was announced that some changes have been made to children’s baseball leagues!  There will no longer be Midget, Bantam or Peewee because it is biased against actual midgets!  Go figure!  There are still Boys & Girls leagues but who knows how long that will last!!!!
It had been snowing all night. So, at ......

8:00   I made a snowman.
8:10   A feminist passed by and asked me why I didn't make a snow woman.
8:15   So, I made a snow woman.
8:17   My feminist neighbour complained about the snow woman's voluptuous
          chest saying it objectified snow women everywhere.

8:20   The gay couple living nearby threw a hissy fit and moaned it could
          have been two snowmen instead.

8:22   The transgender person asked why I didn't just make one snow
          person with detachable parts.

8:25   The vegans at the end of the lane complained about the carrot nose,
          as veggies are food and not to decorate snow figures with.
8:28   I am being called a racist because the snow couple is white.
8:31   The Muslim gent across the road demands the snow woman wear a burqa.
8:40   The Police arrive saying someone has been offended.
8:42   The feminist neighbour complained again that the broomstick of
          the snow woman needs to be removed because it depicted
          women in a domestic role.
8:43   The Government equalities officer arrived and threatened me with eviction.
8:45   TV news crew from the CBC shows up. I am asked if I know
          the difference between snowmen and snow-women? I reply, "Snowballs",
          and now I am called a sexist.

9:00   I'm on the News as a suspected terrorist, racist, homophobic sensibility
          offender bent on stirring up trouble during difficult weather.
9:10   I am asked if I have any accomplices. My children are taken by social services.
9:29   Far left protesters offended by everything are marching down the street
         demanding for me to be beheaded.


         There is no moral to this story. This is the world we live in today;
         and it's going to get worse.

Saturday, November 23, 2019



Patagonia Leads the Charge on Hemp-Based Clothing

Analysis by Dr. Joseph MercolaFact Checked
The featured film, “Misunderstood: A Brief History of Hemp in the U.S.,” produced by Patagonia Films, shows the history of hemp in America, including why and how it was demonized for so many years. The film also highlights hemp’s various uses, including as a hearty textile that’s three times more durable than cotton.1 
Patagonia has been using legally sourced hemp fiber in its clothing since 1997, blending it with other fibers such as recycled polyester, organic cotton or spandex. Its hemp is currently sourced from China, a country Patagonia says has been subsidizing hemp for generations.2
Hemp and its use dates back to the birth of America, but in China it dates back even further, where it’s said to have been used to make the world’s first rope around 2800 B.C. Hemp was also used for cigarette papers, Bible pages and military uniforms.
Today, China grows nearly half the world’s legal hemp. The majority of it is exported as a textile fiber,3 including to companies like Patagonia, which are in the business of making sustainable clothing with little-to-no environmental impact.

A Mindful Way to Clothe Yourself

Like any other plant, hemp has its limitations, but compared to other plants it has some properties that stand out, said Elizabeth Pilon-Smits, professor of biology at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, in the film.
Hemp is valued for much more than its durability. When used for clothing, hemp is lightweight, absorbent and resistant to UV rays and mold, making it the perfect material for outdoor apparel. It has antimicrobial properties, too.
As a crop, hemp grows strong and fast. It requires little water and no pesticides. In about four to five months, hemp can grow taller than a person. Cultivating hemp is also good for the environment due to its ability to remediate the soil. Hemp can remove toxic chemicals and heavy metals from the soil in just one season, making it an effective plant for environmental cleanup, and to restore degraded land.
This was proven true when scientists used hemp in the 1990s to clean the soil following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Scientists later confirmed this use when hemp was shown to successfully extract heavy metals from the soil, including lead, cadmium and nickel.4
Shishir Goenka, founder of Fusion Clothing Company, which uses hemp for clothing, told the India Economic Times:5
"Hemp is one of the most versatile and sustainable crops on the planet. It can grow at the rate of sixteen feet in as little as one hundred days. Hemp is also a very eco-friendly crop, as it requires no pesticides and needs little water, yet it renews the soil with each growth cycle. Its long roots prevent erosion and help retain topsoil and grow readily in most temperate regions."
Hemp and its many uses are nothing new. The plant was used in the U.S. dating back to the 18th century, when America’s Founding Fathers cultivated hemp for industrial use. George Washington is said to have grown more than 100 hemp plants at his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. It was so valuable that at one point, the Farm Bureau required all farmers to grow at least a quarter of an acre of hemp, according to the featured film.
Hemp: The Miracle Plant 
In the 18th century, hemp was viewed as an important cash crop. People migrating from Europe to America traveled on ships with sails made of hemp. It was used for rope by navies around the world, and as a thick durable linen ideal for clothing and packaging heavy materials. Additionally, hemp seed oil was used in soaps, paints and varnishes.
If hemp has all these incredible uses, you might be wondering why it was banned in the U.S. for so many decades? The explanation has something to do with the fact that hemp looks nearly identical to its close cousin, cannabis. But don’t get the two confused because, unlike cannabis, hemp contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
When asked in the film how hemp is different from marijuana, Alli La Pierre, a material developer for Patagonia, explained:
“It’s not the same at all. You will not get high if you smoke hemp. The plants look and smell the same. But hemp doesn’t have the psychoactive properties that marijuana does.”
Hemp activist Craig Lee of the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association explained it perfectly in the featured film when he said that while hemp and cannabis are close cousins, the difference between them is like that between popcorn and sweetcorn.

The War on Cannabis and Hemp 

The war on cannabis is well detailed in the documentary, “The Marijuana Revolution.” The film shows how marijuana was once regarded as a harmful and addictive drug used mainly among black jazz musicians and Mexican migrant workers.
Despite its controversial reputation, cannabis (similar to hemp) has a variety of benefits including medicinal properties that can be used to treat insomnia, menstrual cramps, nausea, muscle spasms and depression.
Modern research has only expanded on these health benefits, now recognizing marijuana as an effective treatment for cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and Tourette's syndrome, as well as a host of other diseases.
However, the concept of cannabis as a medicine quickly began to fade when people started using the plant as a recreational drug in the 20th century. Those frightened of marijuana began to demonize it, using provocative terms like "devil weed" and "drug addicted zombies" to deter people from smoking it.
Harry J. Anslinger, a former railroad cop and prohibition agent, was one of the first powerful voices to come out against the plant. He used fear mongering and racism to sway public opinion on cannabis, targeting minorities including African-Americans, Hispanics and Filipinos.
Anslinger described the average marijuana user as being a minority entertainer who relied on the drug to create "[s]atanic music, jazz and swing." He said the plant caused "white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others."

US Government Shuts Down Hemp 

In 1936, the U.S. government funded the propaganda film "Reefer Madness," which warned that using marijuana just once could turn you into a drug-addicted zombie.
The authorities also changed the plant's name and began using the Spanish word "marijuana" in an effort to give it a negative connotation associated with Mexican migrant workers and other minorities. Shortly thereafter, the sale and use of cannabis in the U.S. was made illegal through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
The legislation grouped hemp with cannabis, making hemp sales heavily taxed. The financial strain caused many hemp businesses to close and the hemp industry further declined.6 The rise of other industries, including cotton, wood pulp and plastic, also contributed to this decline.
World War II brought with it a brief boost for hemp, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraging U.S. farmers to grow the plant and the government offering subsidies for hemp cultivation.
About 1 million acres of hemp were planted in the U.S. during that time, and the stiff fiber was used to make parachutes, uniforms, tarps and other products useful to the war industry. "After the war ended, the government quietly shut down all the hemp processing plants and the industry faded away again," the Hemp Industry Association noted.7
The final nail in the coffin came with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which grouped hemp and marijuana together as Schedule 1 substances, a classification reserved for drugs with "high potential for abuse" and "no accepted medical use."
Three years later the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was formed to enforce the newly created drug schedules, and the fight against marijuana and hemp use began.

The Slow Progress Toward Hemp Legalization in the US

In 2013, Colorado legalized industrial hemp farming for commercial and research purposes, provided the farmers verified the THC levels and paid for a permit. In 2014, the Farm Bill also included a section that allowed hemp cultivation for select research and pilot programs, and dozens of states introduced pro-hemp legislation to follow.
By 2017, nearly 26,000 acres of hemp were being grown in 19 states.8 Still, in a major waste of taxpayer dollars, the DEA would target hemp farmers. Ministry of Hemp noted that prior to the 2018 legalization:9
"[F]armers in all these states still risk being raided by the DEA, going to prison, and losing their property because the federal policy fail[ed] to distinguish non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of industrial hemp from the psychoactive drug varieties (i.e., 'marijuana')."
Now that hemp has been legalized, it removes restrictions for crop insurance, banking and other barriers to farmers looking for a profitable crop. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who spearheaded the bill, believes hemp could replace tobacco as a new cash crop, stating:10
"At a time when farm income is down and growers are struggling, industrial hemp is a bright spot of agriculture's future. My provision in the Farm Bill will not only legalize domestic hemp, but it will also allow state departments of agriculture to be responsible for its oversight."

The CBD Oil Craze

While hemp’s popularity as a fiber or textile is expected to rise, it’s most common use currently in the U.S. is cannabidiol (CBD) oil. CBD oil can be made from either marijuana or hemp, and it offers a host of health benefits.
The strongest research suggests that CBD oil may be effective for treating epilepsy, as it’s shown to reduce seizures, and in some cases, stop them altogether. CBD oil may also help with anxiety, insomnia, inflammation and chronic pain.11 
From the moment hemp was legalized in the Farm Bill, CBD products seemed to have hit store shelves across the U.S. almost overnight. Today, CBD products can be found in a wide variety of retailers, ranging from health and wellness retailers to grocery stores12 and even apparel and accessories retailers. The CBD oil market is projected to rise from $591 million globally in 2018 to $22 billion worldwide by 2022.13
Given that Patagonia has been using hemp since 1997, it’s no surprise that its hemp-based clothing line is an impressive one. Patagonia’s hemp collection includes items for men and women such as tanks, shorts, pants, sweatshirts, jackets, overalls and even ballcaps — all made, at least in part, from hemp.
One of the coolest parts about hemp clothing is that it’s completely biodegradable, notes the film. In other words, you can throw hemp clothing into your compost pile or even your backyard and it will biodegrade back into the earth. That said, hemp’s ability to uptake heavy metals would make me think twice about using hemp clothing in compost destined to be used in an organic garden.
For a peek inside the hemp production process, check out these impressive photos Patagonia had photographer Lloyd Belcher take of one of their supply chain sources in China.
+ Sources and References