420 Magazine Background

Over The Hemp

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
If you stroll the the halls of Forest Grove High School these days and know what to look for, you’ll see that a few dozen students are carrying tote bags made from Cannabis sativa.

The bags are perfectly legal, as is the hemp that makes up 55 percent of their fabric.

But the relationship of hemp to its genetic cousin, marijuana, kept the totes under wraps for months and sparked a spirited discussion about the benefits of sustainable crops.

This story began last fall, when the 15 members of the high school’s Earth Club pooled some of their cash to purchase 40 totes from ECOBAGS.

They planned to re-sell the bags during the Christmas season, at a slight profit, to raise money for the club and to promote some earth-friendly practices.

The totes would reduce the amount of waste the school produced, explained club member Kevin Murphy, as students would have less to throw away after their mid-day meal.

“By bringing their own lunch with these bags instead of buying at school, students will realize how much trash they don’t throw away, because when you bring Tupperware and your own silverware from home, you won’t throw it away,” said Murphy.

Earth Club advisor April Anson said the students weren’t looking for controversy.

“It was a fundraiser to reduce waste by selling students totes for school books, lunches and groceries,” said Anson, an English teacher of five years. “That they were made of hemp didn’t matter.”

Or so she thought.

Principal John O’Neill refused to allow Earth Club students to sell the totes on school property.

“All school fundraisers need approval, and this one didn’t have it,” explained O’Neill. He continued, “To many people hemp is synonymous with marijuana, at least perception-wise.”

Both marijuana and hemp are varieties of the species Cannabis sativa. But there’s one big difference.

Some strains of marijuana contain up to 20 percent of the mind-altering chemical delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), while hemp contains less than one percent.

Nonetheless, it’s currently illegal to grow hemp in the United States, though it’s OK to import hemp products from Canada and other countries.

Still, O’Neill didn’t want the bags sold on school property, so he bought them and tucked them away while students prepared to make their case with school administrators.

Murphy, a junior and former class president, met with O’Neill in mid-March to tell him about the history of hemp and its environmental benefits.

He said he told O’Neill how hemp had been stitched together to build Christopher Columbus’s sails and made into the paper on which and the United States Constitution was written.

He explained how hemp is used to make clothing in countries outside the United States and that it is four times more durable than cotton, and produces three times as much pulp in paper production as wood.

Finally, Murphy said he highlighted how the tote bags the club bought are organically harvested and sold to the market at fair trade prices, which benefit the Canadian and European farmers that grow the hemp.

Murphy said there are other cities and nations also suggesting the use of reusable bags rather than the ubiquitous paper or plastic found in markets.

O’Neill made an agreement with Earth Club: share this information with everyone who buys a bag, and they can be sold.

The club agreed to the deal. So when students ordered a hemp tote bag, they also signed up for an informational session about hemp, and would receive their bag after the meeting.

In this way, O’Neill and and club members could ensure that the educational aspect of the fund-raiser wasn’t obscured by jokes about marijuana.

Earth Club members see this fight for their tote bags as part of a larger educational effort needed to persuade their classmates to tread more lightly on the planet.

They say many students toss recyclable containers and other materials into the trash. And they’re dismayed by the amount of disposable materials inside the school.

Students at the high school are not the only ones trying to save the planet.

Earlier this year, the Roots & Shoots program at Tom McCall Upper Elementary School began to use hemp tote bags as well, according to 6th grade teacher Charlie Graham, the long-time leader of the group.

The group, which promotes environmental awareness and social justice, bought about 20 bags from the national Roots & Shoots organization for members to use.

“We educated ourselves about hemp,” said Graham. The bags have the Roots & Shoots logo printed on them, as well as a list of “10 things to do to save Earth.”

Murphy said he thinks using sustainable crops like hemp is key step toward that goal.

“I think this is going to be our generation’s staple, because it’s either now or never in saving the planet,” he said, “and it’s too close to the deadline as to when the planet can still be healed.”

He paused. “If it’s not us, then the planet may never be fixed.”

News Hawk- User 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: SustainableLife
Author: Andrew Miner and Paul Senz
Contact: The Forest Grove News-Times Ι Contact_us
Copyright: 2007 Pamplin Media Group
Website: Over the hemp
Last edited:
Top Bottom