The Devil in the Details: Why Russ Belville is Slightly Wrong About His “5 Pot Myths That Must Be Busted”


“I’ve been studying marijuana professionally for eight years now and have read more reports, studies, and data than most of you put together.”
– Russ Belville, Sept. 26 at 10:20am, Facebook

CANNABIS CULTURE – I am saddened when pot activists do sloppy research and hold it out to the public as the truth. I am even more saddened when it takes the form of an attack on other pot activists.

If you’re going to attack your fellow pot activists, make sure you have your own facts straight – or you’re going to look foolish – and be proven wrong by activists who don’t appreciate being talked down to.

Case in point: Russ Belville, who writes for, wrote a very superficial article called “5 Pro-Pot Myths That Must Be Busted”:

attacking unnamed activists for promoting five “pot myths”. Except his understanding of each myth was missing some vital truth – a truth that is even more important to understand than the myth he is attempting to “bust”.

1) Washington’s “hemp quotes” – they weren’t just about industrial hemp

Belville’s first myth was about “Debunked Presidential Quotes”. He points out some quotes that are no doubt baseless, such as the Jefferson quote “Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.” and the Lincoln quote “Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica.”

But then Belville goes on to say that “The Founding Father’s hemp quotes, though, are totally legit.”

Hemp quotes?

Let’s look at these quotes closely. The most famous Founding Father cannabis quotes are from George Washington:

“Began to seperate the Male from the Female hemp at Do.—rather too late.” 7 August 1765

As some other cannabis activists have bothered to note:

“…his phrase “rather too late” suggests that he wanted to complete the separation *before the female plants were fertilized*–and this was a practice related to drug potency rather that to fiber culture.”

Then there is the “India hemp” quotes:

“I also gave the Gardener a few Seed of East India hemp to raise from, enquire for the seed which has been saved, and make the most of it at the proper Season for Sowing.” – Jan. 6th 1794

“I cannot with certainty recollect, whether I saw the India hemp growing when I was last at Mount Vernon; but think it was in the Vineyard; somewhere I hope it was sown, and therefore desire that the Seed may be saved in due season & with as little loss as possible: that, if it be valuable, I may make the most of it.” Augt 17th 1794.

2) Hemp WILL (or COULD, at least) save the world once over-regulation is removed and subsidies are switched

Belville writes:

“Yes, it is an amazingly versatile plant for food, fuel, fiber and medicine. But 31 countries already grow hemp; it’s just the United States banning it that dooms Earth? When there’s a hemp iPhone, hemp diamonds and a hemp cheeseburger that tastes like real thing, maybe hemp will replace everything that damages the environment.”

In a word, “yes” – it’s just the United States banning it that dooms the Earth.

Due to the US ban on hemp in 1937 and the subsequent US effort to ban marijuana all over the world (including US Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger’s efforts which led to the Single Convention Treaty on Drugs in 1961),

industrial hemp is over-regulated, which prevents it from competing with and replacing the fossil fuels, plastics, tree paper, cotton and the other “25,000 products” they talked about hemp replacing back in 1938.

The reason Canada has “legal hemp” but no real hemp paper or hemp fabric industry to speak of – the reason tree paper and cotton fabric still dominate the market – is not because hemp is inferior to these other materials, but rather hemp is over-regulated … in part because of mis-information from activists like Belville which prevent this over-regulation being identified and then addressed.

It works like this. The drug war provides an excuse to over-regulate. The over-regulation makes hemp artificially expensive, and thus less competitive than other – more inferior – materials:

“A minimum of 10 acres must be grown. (19) The hemp must test below 0.3% in THC. (20) The strain must be “approved”. (21) Hundreds of potentially profitable industrial strains are denied to farmers. (22) The US won’t approve importing Canadian hemp products if they contain even trace amounts of THC (23) Hemp seed must be rendered non-viable and tested for viability. (24) Those with criminal records for cannabis farming are not allowed to grow hemp. (25) Breeders licenses – permitting access to the most economically rewarding element of industrial hemp farming – are difficult to obtain. One needs a science degree and 10 years experience working under an accredited breeder. (26) … Farmers cannot supply themselves with seed – they have to obtain it every year through government approved breeders. Seed is the farmer’s biggest cost, varying between $6,250.00 to $16,875.00 for the average hemp farm (250 acres). For the largest hemp (3000 acres), seed costs can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars! Canadian hemp farmers spent somewhere between $1,250, 000 to $3,375,000.00 on seeds in 2006 (27) – an unnecessary cost … more than a down-payment on a large hemp fuel manufacturing plant.”

In the discussion below his article, Belville writes “But who’s going to buy new diesel cars for everybody?” Here he exposes his ignorance. The viable hemp fuel is made from the stalk, not the seed. It will be hemp stalk ethanol replacing gasoline – not hemp seed biodiesel replacing regular diesel – that will save the world.