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Hemp Bound

A detailed and humorous look at weed’s straight sister

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Fast-forward to 2014, when President Barack Obama signed a Farm Bill into law that relaxed some of the restrictions on growing the crop most likely to have been found on a Deadhead. Michelle Obama won’t be growing hemp in her White House Garden any time soon, but the bill allows research institutions and state departments of agriculture to grow hemp in states where pro-hemp legislation has already been enacted. Oregon is one of those states. 

The 2014 Farm Bill also recognizes the legal distinction between marijuana and industrial hemp: the “term ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol H. R. 2642—265 concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

In other words, hemp won’t get you high. What it will do, according to Doug Fine in his book Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution ($14.95, Chelsea Green, 2014), is revolutionize the economy, make great houses and take out the ring around your collar. “You can actually use Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Soap to nontoxically and hypoallergenically clean your laundry,” Fine writes.

Hemp Bound is an enthusiastic discussion of the wonders of hemp by a “comedic investigative journalist,” written as the trend towards legalization of marijuana and its relatives marches on. Fine chronicles riding in a hemp-powered limo, learning about building tractors from hemp-derived sources, hemp farming and everything else you might want to know about how hemp can change the world — or at least parts of it. 

The factual information isn’t weighed down by wonky or jargony language, and Fine breaks up the narrative with short focused sections on “hemp pioneers” (and yes, David Bronner of the “magic soap” is one). 

In addition to picking up a copy of Hemp Bound, those inclined to travel can check out Doug Fine 7:30 pm April 27 at Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside St., Portland. The “rollicking” presentation is free.