Cassie Brewer, Publicity Coordinator for Cinema Libre Studio, was kind enough to send me a copy of ‘Hempsters’ on DVD. I have a confession to make – I didn’t know that much about hemp until I saw this movie. However, before people freak out and start e-mailing me anything and everything they can about hemp, I am proud to say that I feel like a hemp expert after watching this movie. It really gets into the science and industry that go along with hemp cultivation and usage.
I have tried to dig for solid hemp information for years now, but I always ran into dead ends. Sure, there are countless websites and articles dedicated to the fact that hemp is wonderful, and awesome, and that if we could only tap into it, it would save the world. However, hard facts, statistics, and examples were always absent. I’m the kind of math nerd that took Probability and Statistics in college as an elective, and I’m ALWAYS skeptical of what people are trying to put out there. I was beginning to become disheartened about hemp, wondering if it really was as awesome as so many people believed. I’m happy to say that after watching this FANTASTIC movie, I can say with confidence that hemp can save the world, and I have the raw facts to back up my statement.
The movie starts with Steve Levine, President of the Hemp Industries Association, and a group of hemp farmers going to the DEA Headquarters. What are they doing? Planting hemp seeds in the DEA’s front lawn! Needless to say, this movie had me at hello. The movie is full of black screens with killer quotes like “The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.” – Thomas Jefferson (1800).
As the credits roll, there is footage of my personal hero Woodie Harrelson planting hemp in an act of defiance in Kentucky on June 1, 1996. “It’s hard work darn it, breaking the law” he says as he strikes his digging tool into the ground. Watching him from a few yards away is Joe Hickey, from the Kentucky Hemp Growers Co-op. He drops a line that I think goes to the heart of this film, and the heart of the hemp movement. Joe says “this whole country was founded on civil disobedience.” Preach on brother Hickey! Two seconds later the sheriff shows up and arrests Woodie. The public act of defiance was so inspiring I can’t explain the joy I felt when I watched it.
One thing that this movie brought to my attention is the strong desire for the hemp community to distinguish their product from marijuana. As Woodie Harrelson says, the biggest deterrent to hemp legalization is marijuana. This is a very interesting dynamic to me, because everyone I have ever met that likes marijuana also likes hemp. So to find out that there are people out there that like hemp, but aren’t all about marijuana, is pretty wild to me. A lot of this movie is based in the Midwest, so maybe attitudes are different out there compared to the West Coast.
But that’s not to say that there aren’t ANY people in the Midwest that don’t like both. The movie quickly goes to a rally in Atlanta, Georgia, led by Gatewood Galbraith (Did I just see Subcool???). It’s a huge group of people walking down a main street shouting at the top of the their lungs, ‘We smoke pot!’ As always, Gatewood is all fired up, and looks like a kid in a candy store. And, as always, he is there to impart his wisdom. He points out that hemp became illegal because it was the first time the federal government told it’s citizens which seeds it could plant and which ones it couldn’t.
This was the point in US history where the average farmer became disconnected with the earth, forced by the government. The end result is not just that Americans can’t plant hemp, they can’t plant anything the government doesn’t like. In essence, with hemp/marijuana eradication came a sweeping agricultural policy that still exists to this day. This is conspiracy theory gold for any of you readers out there that are into that!
“So when people ask Galbraith, why is the change in marijuana laws important to the people of this country, because it returns to the people the right to plant a seed in God’s earth and consume the green natural plant that comes up out of it.” – Gatewood Galbraith
The next portion of the movie is something that I didn’t know about, and I’m disappointed in myself as a fan of the First Amendment, law, and hemp for not being aware. But a special thanks to Cinema Libre Studio for enlightening me! It’s the story of school teacher Donna Cockrel. She was fired for promoting hemp in her classroom and bringing Woodie Harrelson in as a guest speaker to talk to her students about hemp. It’s a very dramatic story that lasted seven years, and when you see the movie, if you aren’t moved, you need to see a doctor.
Possibly the most critical part of this movie is the portrayal of the American hemp farmer. They are constantly treated like drug cartel leaders, when in fact they are just honest, hard working Americans that live off the land in a sustainable way. How anyone can bash that, is beyond me. The Graves family is particularly interesting because five generations were allowed to farm hemp, yet the youngest son is not. As a result, Andy Graves is VERY active. He is forced to grow tobacco, but wants to follow in his family’s footsteps. Farmers are a dying breed, and hemp could save them all. Just give them a chance.
If the hemp farmer perspective is the most critical part of the movie, than the most ENTERTAINING perspective is from the legendary Willie Nelson. Is there anyone that is more American than Willie Nelson? He should be the King of America, I’m officially saying it here on TWB. Could you imagine how more peaceful and logical the world would be? He rides hard for all forms of cannabis, and there is some stellar footage of him throughout this film.
There are countless other people in this film, including the four bands of Lakota living on Pine Ridge, Ralph Nader, Julia Butterfly Hill, Merle Haggard, and many, many more. If you want to be more informed about hemp than you ever could have imagined before, you need to see this film. I guarantee if this movie was seen just one time by every American, hemp would be legal tomorrow, and the environment, economy, and farming community would all be better off for it. If that’s what you claim you are about, as so many of us do, then do your part, buy this DVD, and show it to anyone and everyone you can!