I’m sitting on my cream sofa as I write on my little lap-top. It doesn’t need recovering, though I had these loose covers made twenty years ago … they are, you could say in that time-honoured phrase – as good as new – and have a lovely linen -like texture.
They are made from hemp, the brother, so to speak, of marijuana. I’ve never sampled marijuana, though now that I’m getting to the end of my appointed time (maybe not) I wish I had. But in my younger days, when all around me were urging me to have a go – young lawyers, an architect, teacher, professional men – even a doctor and several nurses who dared the system – I didn’t dare.
I feared too much that I would get caught by the punitive laws fifty years ago, and if found puffing the forbidden weed, would have my two small children taken away from me, and lose them. Though I was often subjected to constant pressure- what’s wrong with you… why are you so inhibited – the thought of my children made me adamant – no experimenting for me…
Several things have made me change my mind now I’m past three score and ten. One was watching the moving French film and true story, ‘The Intouchables,’ and seeing the relaxed enjoyment of life that the tetraplegic experienced when his outrageous carer introduced him to pot. I was reminded of the sadness I had felt some years ago, when a tetraplegic in this country was mercilessly sentenced to prison, even though he claimed that the ‘weed’ alleviated his pain. In the past six months that I’ve been taking powerful painkillers for nerve pain in my numb foot and shin, unwelcome leftovers from my broken leg, I’ve wished that I too could take some of this helpful weed.
The law has been changed in the last few weeks, and it is now legal for a local health board to okay the taking of medicinal marijuana in cases of need. And today I read on a Facebook this thread discussing legalising the drug:
(It’s not as though) ‘there is … an army of NZer’s waiting to smoke it, but don’t because it’s illegal. OK! People smoke it regardless of the law. Legalizing it would put Cannabis dealers out of business, free up resources to tackle P, reduce the amount of people in prison, increase tax revenue as Cannabis could then be sold commercially under the same restrictions of alcohol, and most importantly allow hemp to be grown on large scales across the country creating jobs, and allowing NZ to produce super eco-friendly hemp products for global export.’
Ah, this to me is the crux of the matter, because this plant has been grown and used for many purposes for over 10,000 years, according the anthropologists and others of their ilk. According to Wikipedia: ‘Cannabis is believed to be one of the oldest domesticated crops. Throughout history, humans have grown different varieties of cannabis for industrial and medical uses.
‘Tall, sturdy plants were grown by early civilizations to make a variety of foods, oils and textiles, such as rope and fabrics. These plants were bred with other plants with the same characteristics, leading to the type of cannabis we now know as hemp. Other plants were recognized for being psychoactive and were bred selectively for medical and religious purposes. This led to unique varieties of cannabis that we now know as marijuana.’
According to a Canadian company that specializes in cannabis cultivation technology, ‘the core agricultural differences between medical cannabis and hemp are largely in their genetic parentage and cultivation environment.’ Apparently it’s one of the fastest growing plants and was also one of the first plants to be spun into fibre in the dawn of mankind..
Nowadays, it can be turned into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles like my beautiful sofa covers, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed. It’s been used for ropes for centuries, and animal bedding as well as feed. In France, one of the biggest producers of hemp, much of it is used to make cigarette papers.
France, Russia, China and Canada are the biggest growers of this wonderful plant with so many uses for mankind, and yet it’s still a crime to grow it in many countries, like my own, where the law has not yet distinguished between the different types of plants- medicinal and commercial.
Kannabis, the ancient Greeks called this ancient plant. Whenever I hear the police helicopter hovering around the sky near us, I know they are hoping to discover some illegal plots of bright green cannabis. Apparently, a local township has lived on the proceeds of this plant for years, I learned in conversation with some of the older residents who live here.
A significant chunk of the economy of the township was based on it, and the local shops understood that the locals would run out of money until the next growing season, when the growers would pay off their accounts after the harvest. Because their livelihood was dependent on the growing of marijuana, the community fiercely resisted the highly addictive Methamphetamine- P for short – and there is apparently no P culture in the little town. It is a peaceful, unconventional community with many old- fashioned hippies!
All these thoughts ran through my head as I sat down on my old sofa… which is older than the hemp loose covers. I bought the sofa from a friend of a friend when it was yellow and I had wanted a yellow sofa for ages. This yellow sofa was already twenty- five years old when I brought it home in triumph, and that was twenty- four years ago. I took it to be re-sprung or whatever it needed a few years ago, and the upholsterer said all it needed was new modern feet. So back home it came with its unblemished cream hemp covers to seat us for another twenty years or so.
It had been a very expensive sofa when it was bought so many years ago, and the piped and fitted loose cream covers had cost a bomb too. They both remind me of those telling words of Benjamin Franklin who so truly said: ‘The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.’ But I enjoy the sweetness of high quality along with the pleasures of thrift and re-cycling, and the deep satisfaction of sitting on a fabric with an ancestry as old as mankind’s.
PS. The pic is from my old house, with a rose spattered quilt covering the cream hemp,
Food for threadbare gourmets
We have been enduring a horrific and un-ending storm in this country, and though we live at the top of the hill, we are trapped by a land slip one side of the road, and floods at the bottom of the other end. So I decided to cheer us up with a good lunch and try a recipe a la Annabel Langbein, a NZ Food writer.
I had some pork belly in the deep freeze, which was defrosted overnight. After patting the crackling dry, put a couple of bay leaves and some fresh sage leaves in a baking tin, and lay the pork on top. Blitz it in a very hot oven for half an hour, and then pour in milk two thirds of the way up the meat. Reduce the heat to medium or less, and cook for at least another hour and a half, longer if the meat is not falling off the bone by then.The crackling was divine.
We ate it with mashed potatoes beaten with lots of butter and some cream, and green beans… it went down a treat…
Food for Thought
Trapped in the forest by the storm, we are watching Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Here is that memorable quote, when Bilbo says: … ” I wish none of this had happened. ”
And Gandalf replies: ‘So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us….’
25 responses to “The kannabis trail”
Only this week I watched a TV program, from NZ, I think, about a couple who built one of the first hemp houses there! It was used much as straw bales are used and is reputed to have good insulation properties. A lady farmer interviewed here in Australia (I think) said that she can grow a crop in only 7 months but is unable to sell it. She, like many farmers are trying to diversify to get them through difficult times. I certainly think medicinal marijuana oil should be legal everywhere. I’m of two minds about the smoked variety, only because I see how badly the drug, alcohol, has effected so many people and I wonder if we need yet another legal way to inflict anti-social behaviours on each other. Of course it already goes on… I really don’t know. I like Benjamin Franklin’s quote but when I bought a brand new pair of shoes online this week and got them for half the price I’d paid for another pair (same brand and similar style but different colour) I was ever so thrilled that I was able to get quality and a substantial savings!! Thank you for the thought provoking piece, Valerie. I hope the storm abates soon.
Thank you for your interesting comments Ardys… I was intrigued by the idea of a hemp house… I have heard of hemp being used to make bricks elsewhere, and yes, apparently hemp has very good insulation.
You do not need to convince me of the satisfaction of buying expensive shoes at half price, Ardys… I do the same every time I can…what we’re going for here is good quality And low price !
Mark’s comments below may interest you re smoking pot… both by keeping it away from adolescents whose brains apparently are permanently damaged by too much, and the need for something other than prohibition for baby boomers who tried it and are now penalised for the rest of their lives with criminal convictions…etc…
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A kindred post, Valerie. I don’t know if you ever read my old blog, but I have a hippy past I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with in the Sounds as I grow old(er). Well, Exclusive Brethren – punk – rasta – hippy – professional (groan, but, money), and now retiring into hippydom again (rather wish I’d lived my twenties through the sixties). Circle of life except I won’t ever be revisiting any type of religion.
It is a lovely plant, and way preferable, plus a lot less punishing (medicinal even) than alcohol, as you detail well. With the only rejoinder being the developing teenage mind shouldn’t go near it (although that stands equally for alcohol).
The current move toward a medicinal cannabis is fake and sheer cynical signalling from politicians in an election year: the fact you may be prescribed it – and it’s way superior to morphine – by a doctor at something ludicrous like $800 a month while you can grow a single plant in your waist high glasshouse for nothing flies in the face of sense (any sort of sense).
We are so prissy about this plant, and so childish – especially in the fortress at Wellington – when it can be a lovely, life-enhancing plant (compare with alcohol again). As with the war on drugs, proper, prohibition has been a disaster (for a start the countless number of baby boomers who have carried through their adult lives the albatross of a youthful cannabis conviction simply because they did decide to experiment. No overseas travel, limited employment opportunities in many fields, etc. Crazy.
Anyway, I’ve written too much, as usual. The moving truck lands in our drive this Wednesday to take us permanently to my waist high vege garden in the Sounds. You *really* should come visit Mrs H. and I, with that broken leg of yours 🙂
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Hello Mark, what a great comment, one which I learned so much from…including the stupidity of the prohibition… had never considered the long term effect of that youthful experiment… and I hadn’t realised that Peter Dunne’s removal of the need for a minister to OK the use of marijuana was a political stunt… I so rarely read the news these days, I just happened to see that item when I picked up a paper to look at house prices !!!
Good luck with the move – I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts when you start writing your intelligent intriguing blog again.
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Like you, I never tried marijuana when I was young. I don’t think it was popular among my friends. It’s legal now in my state, Washington State, USA. I voted for legalization, thinking it wasn’t worthwhile to arrest people for using it. As far as I’ve heard, the experiment is working.
I have in my fridge a container of raw shelled hemp seeds I’m using on cereal. They’re quite tasty and high in protein and good fats.
So good to see your face, and hear from you !
Late in replying as we’ve been drying out after the soaking and flooding of the last week… some treasures un-rescueable – therefore we don’t need them!
That’s great that common sense has prevailed where you live… wish it would catch on here…
Your hemp seeds must transform your cereal into healthy high protein meals … I gave up cereal some years ago when I gave up sugar, as without honey or some sweetening I don’t enjoy chewing on grains, and stevia doesn’t do it in this context !
Even though my sofa doesn’t have the luxury of hemp covers,it may well be as old as yours. It has had a couple of makeovers, and it will probably outlive me. Expensive at the time, but in the long term a bargain, as you say. I think the New Zealand police( and military)could make much better use of their time by taking a leaf out the Italian attitude towards cannabis http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/cannabis-italy-army-medical-marijuana-italian-military-produces-best-quality-weed-a7156176.html
Hello Amanda – thank you for the comment, lovely to hear from you – and thank you for the link – how fascinating, and how practical…
and how Italian !!!!
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Very practical. Our puritanical disposition in NZ makes us tangle ourselves in knots, to no one’s benefit.
Hi Valerie, this post is way too adorable. Don’t be shy and partake of the Kannabis. Try it in the edible form variety, cookies or oil. Cheers!
only just heard f the cookies – in a film I watched, it was a cure-all for everyone’s arthritis in an Australian film ! So good to hear from you…
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Very good hearing from you my dear!
I love the tiny peak into your house! And making a pork with milk is a new one for me…of which I must try whenever I can get to store to purchase a pork belly.
Ah, dear Linda, would love to give you more than a peak into my house… every photo I’ve used at the top of a blog has been taken in my house or garden, so there are a few peaks at the house I’ve just left before moving to the forest!!!
Still drying out after receiving a metre of water in three days… huge slips on our unsealed gravel road, and other dramas, flloods, trees down etc etc…
Never tried it and not interested in doing so, law or no law. I can see that a true medical use for it could be good. It’s become legal in a number of places in the States, now, another cash cow for government to get more money and then spend more than they take in. I do know that law enforcement in states surrounding those where it’s legal aren’t thrilled with the problems they have to deal with from that legality. Prescription drugs, heroin, and meth seem to be much larger problems. I’d love to see hemp legal, as it’s so useful.
So good to hear from you Janet ”’ yes, the medical uses seem to be undoubted – see Gallivanta’s link to the Italian Army !!!!
I can vouch for the problems with prescription drugs… the pain killers I’m on have all sorts of side-effects -especially when you come off them !!!!!
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Ah, Valerie – the JRR Tolkien is my most favorite quote of all times. I agree, there is a high cost to cheap. Reuse, repurpose, renew. Those are essential words in my daily speak! I would love to join you for tea on your lovely sofa. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”
Good morning, dear friend – late in replying as we’ve been drying out after the soaking and flooding of the last week… some treasures un-rescueable – therefore we don’t need them!
I laughed at Emerson’s quote on tea, I agree with hm but felt there was some irony in this remark from a person whose nationhood was precipitated over a chestful of tea !!!
And yes, I wish you could join me for a cup of tea… any chance of you wending your way here, one of these days????
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I have a feeling that we will meet one day!!! Will keep you posted on travels… Hugs and love!!!
Thought you’d like this one Bruce… any plans for returning to Amsterdam this year????
I’ve had questions about legalization of marijuana until recently when I’ve seen the relief it’s afforded a friend with chronic knee problems. Because of where she lives she has to sneak around like a common criminal to get it from a ‘pusher.’ Actually he’s a young man who illegally deals in the substance to help his grandmother with his chronic pain. He surrounds the drug with chocolate. My friend is a responsible woman who wouldn’t use recreational drugs. Hopefully, marijuana will soon be legalized across the board and Prohibition, with the crime that accompanies it, will end.
The penalties here have been ridiculous. A person caught dealing marijuana can go to prison for twenty years while a murderer can be released in ten. What’s wrong with this picture?
At any rate, Hydrocodone is more a problem here than weed.
I did smoke it in my younger days. However, not a smoker, I tired of the way it made my throat burn and nasty odor.
There…I was only going to leave a short comment to say I enjoyed your blog. 😉
Stay warm and dry and don’t float away.
Good Morning Rochelle,
– late in replying as we’ve been drying out after the soaking and flooding of the last week… some treasures un-rescueable – therefore we don’t need them!
Thank you for your delightfully long and interesting comment !.
We saw an Australian film recently about a woman whose arthritis was alleviated with marijuana disguised as a box of chocolates… sounds a nice way to take it if it means you don’t get a sore throat !
I know what you mean about the total illogicality of the penalties for having anything to do with it… while other people get off with getting drunk and destructive and beating up wives, and legally smoking other plants, known to cause death and huge medical costs to the system !!!!
I greatly approve of your sofa for relaxation, but have an inbred aversion to any form of drug taken for recreation, including cannabis. Thus I have never tried it. Yet I smoke and drink, both in moderation. My rationale for that is that I generally notice unpleasant symptoms in those who regularly use cannabis, which are not duplicated with these other vices. It may be that impurities cause them, of course, but such impurities are a constant risk. My other objection is that I dislike the idea of induced euphorbia other than to alleviate suffering.. I suggest it is infinitely preferable to obtain such a state through exciting activity or creativity.
Good morning good friend… I noticed the beautiful coast-line and beaches of the resort where you all swam, compared with our week of floods, slips and mayhem – late in replying as we’ve been drying out after the soaking and flooding of the last week… some treasures un-rescueable – therefore we don’t need them!
I took in everything you say, and felt the same before my accident, but so enjoyed the copious morphine I received for the awful pain for some months that I now understand why people do get hooked on such things…
As for the drinking… I am usually just as relaxed and happy after one glass of wine as I was on the morphine (cheap drunk my boyfriends used to call me); but much as I love my wine – and champagne especially – having suffered from the alcoholism of two of my closest relatives, who then died before their time, and seen others coping with lung cancer caused by tobacco, I feel they are both as bad as any other drugs…
So it seems to me that most of us enjoy a drug of our choosing !!!!