Sunday, August 18, 2013

Local documentary makes the case for hemp

By Cliff Bellamy

hsnws sdf documentary
Submitted | Courtesy of Linda Booker
Henry Braham and Glynis Murray, founders of GOOD Hemp Oil, with industrial hemp crop on their farm in North Devon, England, in a scene from "Bringing It Home."

“Bringing It Home,” a new, locally produced documentary by filmmakers Linda Booker and Blaire Johnson, is humorous, educational, and at times, infuriating. The infuriating part has nothing to do with the film itself, but what Booker and Johnson are documenting. The 1970 federal Controlled Substances Act made growing hemp illegal. The unintended consequence of lumping hemp with its cousin marijuana has been to prevent the United States from producing a host of environmentally friendly products, and jobs.
A project of the Durham-based Southern Documentary Fund, the film will get its Durham premiere Thursday.

The filmmakers compare linking hemp and marijuana to locking up someone who resembles, in looks only, a wanted criminal suspect. These two plants look the same, but hemp does not have enough of marijuana’s active ingredient – the stuff that makes people silly and increases the demand for doughnuts and related snack foods – to be an issue.

Because of those laws, this country imports industrial hemp fibers from England, Canada and other countries (at high prices) where it is legally grown and used to make products. The filmmakers interviewed Anthony Brenner, who, because of his daughter’s autism and sensitivity to chemicals, built a house in western North Carolina using hempcrete, a mixture of lime and the woody part of the hemp plant. Brenner funded and is now building what will be the world’s first residential facility for children with disabilities, using hempcrete. 
The filmmakers then travel to other countries with either a nascent or thriving hemp industry – England, South Africa, Spain, and, yes, China. Hemp is used in everything from foods to fabrics. Its cultivation uses less water than cotton, its root system returns nutrients to the soil, and, according to researchers interviewed in this film, has a negative carbon effect.

This year, 20 states have put forth some kind of industrial hemp legislation, according to  the filmmakers. Momentum seems to be building to end this unfortunate consequence of the increasingly disputed federal drug laws.

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