Reflections on Group Action

This action project was a learning experience for me and for my group. We began with the intention of affecting direct policy change through legislation aimed at legalizing hemp nationwide, but soon had to redirect our efforts after our first avenue ended up being impractical during the time period we were allocated. We chose hemp legalization as our issue of focus due to hemp’s unique traits that make it excellent for use in industrial manufacturing, food production, soil preservation, and ethanol production. This relates directly to a few of the most important topics covered in this course: soil degradation and erosion, water shortages, climate change, and the resultant decreasing grain yields. As discussed in all of the texts we’ve read during this course, and as covered in the lectures, the adoption of industrial large-scale farming operations and techniques has helped to support major population growth over the past century, and has decreased global hunger, but at a cost: these methods are extremely damaging and disruptive to the natural cycles that previously had replenished soils slowly over time, and have led to increasingly infertile soil in most of the world’s major grain-producing countries. Coupled with water shortages brought on by climate change, the increased competition for water between populations in large cities and agricultural operations, and with the world’s shift towards globalized markets leading to grain production being centered in only a few nations, this problem becomes a dire one that could lead to global anarchy and governmental collapse stemming from mass hunger and the resultant civil unrest it brings. That is, unless something is done to prevent this eventuality: Hemp cultivation can address soil degradation when grown in a multi-crop rotation, due to its long taproot system that allows it to filter chemicals from soils and restore vital nutrients, without the need for destructive synthetic fertilizers. Due to its high cellulose content, it can also be used as a more efficient source for animal feed and for ethanol stock, allowing much of the corn currently used for both these purposes to be diverted back to feeding the planet. However, hemp is still classified as a controlled substance and treated identically to marijuana under federal law, preventing its benefits from being reaped for the good of humanity. After our project’s attempt to convince our Congressional delegation to support federal legislation to decriminalize hemp failed, we transitioned into efforts to create an informational video and pamphlets aimed at educating the public about the benefits of hemp production, and inspiring them to contact their federal representatives so as to put mass public pressure behind this issue. The only qualm I have with our final result is, due to our class’s time restrictions, the limits put on the scope of our project. I feel if we were given the entire quarter to work, we could have accomplished far more.

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