Kansas & Hemp? How Bad Research Influenced the War on Drugs

Industry Lisa Rough 1/8/2018
research on cannabis leaf
Cannabis reform coming to Kansas?

In the world of cannabis, Kansas is far behind.

So it may come as a surprise that Kansas was once one of the largest producers of hemp in the United States.

In 1863, Kansas produced more bushels per acre of hemp than any state in the nation.

In fact, hemp was so prevalent in Kansas that three major research projects were conducted during the 1970s on cannabis and hemp.

This research would go on to influence a lot of prohibition-centered policymaking decisions.

In a new report from Kelly Rippel, cannabis advocate and co-founder of Kansans for Hemp, we get a better look at this influential research with the benefit of hindsight.

Rippel literally dug up these old studies from Kansas State archives and poured over them carefully.

Why is this important?

In a new era where legalization is looming just over the horizon, Rippel examines the terminology, methods, and conclusions that have influenced cannabis research and the War on Drugs in the decades since.

His findings are a jarring reminder that we should carefully question and scrutinize all research, cannabis and otherwise.

Here are 8 major conclusions and contradictions that Rippel found in this influential research:

#1) The language used in the research is problematic:

fact vs opinion
Which do you prefer when establishing laws?

Cannabis is described as a weed that “escaped cultivation” that must be controlled and eradicated.

This shows a clear bias in favor of industries that have lobbied to keep it illegal, as hemp has had a wide variety of uses throughout the history of the US.

Why else would anybody want to eradicate hemp?

#2) Findings from this research helped justify the “War on Drugs”:

This research has been repeatedly used to justify cannabis prohibition, the use of taxpayer dollars to destroy cannabis plants, and has led to the imprisonment of millions of predominantly minority citizens.

#3) There are clear conflicts of interest:

conflict of interest
What does it mean when Big Pharma funds anti-cannabis research?

The research was funded by the corporations Elanco Production Co and Eli Lilly.

In a clear show of bias, the conclusions benefitted these industries.

#4) The report suggests environmentally irresponsible practices:

The authors encourage the use of deep plowing and pesticides to eradicate cannabis plants, falsely claiming a lack of soil disturbance, ultimately contributing to future algae blooms and water contamination, as well as harmful health complications like cancer and fertility complications.

#5) Categorizing cannabis as an invasive species lacks scientific basis:

research on medical cannabis
Cannabis an invasive plant? Is that why the industry has taken off so fast?

The report considers cannabis an invasive weed to be eradicated at all costs, a broad claim that lacked any basis in science, as the many practical uses of hemp had already been established in the US.

#6) The report has been cited in other studies:

This biased and inaccurate report has been cited in numerous works in the decades since, further  pushing an outdated agenda and misinformation.

#7) The report incorrectly assumed that making cannabis illegal would eliminate usage:

scissor on cannabis leafs
Humankind has been using this plant for at least 5,000 years.

This shows a deeper misunderstanding of cannabis; despite federal prohibition, cannabis use has never decreased.

#8) The low potency of Kansas hemp posed no threat:

holding cannabis plant
Hemp does pose a threat to other, less sustainable industries.

The study found that wild hemp in Kansas was low in potency, with little or no cannabinoid content, and therefore posed no threat as a drug, but the report (and authorities) treats hemp and cannabis as the same equally “dangerous” drug.

Cannabis and hemp are indeed variations of the same plant, however hemp is essentially cultivated with fewer cannabinoids and very little THC – the psychoactive cannabinoid.

The stigma from such a report runs deep, but if we properly address these issues and really take a fresh look at the research, could Kansas be the next frontier for hemp cultivation?

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