Can cannabis be used to heal the planet

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The planet is in big trouble from greenhouse gases that warm and change the climate. Ashland resident Paul J. von Hartmann proposes a cure you might not expect. It’s cannabis.

Von Hartmann has been a “cannabis scholar” and speaker for 25 years on the need to decriminalize weed and get it out to the world, not just as a healer of the user but as a healer of the planet in these perilous times of climate change.

Von Hartmann is an organic pot farmer with Ebb & Flow Farm in Talent and author of “Cannabis vs. Climate Change: How hot does it have to get before all solutions are considered?”

His movie of the same title is available at and consists of a series of speeches and commentary, mostly by him.

Von Hartmann, a biodynamic farmer and founder in 2007 of the California Cannabis Ministry, has been for many years trying to get out the message that, after we finish the battle over legality of weed, we can start using it to save our own health as well as the health of the planet.

“It’s unique, the only crop that produces complete nutrition and sustainable energy from the same harvest,” he said in an interview. “It has the three essential fatty acids in proper proportion for long-term consumption and is loaded with amino acids and proteins.”

For the planet, pot’s most significant property may be production of “atmospheric terpenes (volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants), and these are needed to protect Earth from the sun, that is, the UVB radiation that has increased as we’ve cut down boreal (far northern) forests to make paper and killed off half of marine phytoplankton.”

Cannabis, he says, is the only crop capable of replenishing the atmosphere with terpenes we need for survival, as well as helping sequester carbon in boreal forests and ocean plants. Inherent in this process of healing the planet, he says, is reducing burning of fossil fuels and turning to plants, such as hemp, as the new source of plastics. Massive cannabis farming also produces much oxygen.

Cannabis can make the world go around in many ways, he says. Industrial hemp can be a multibillion-dollar industry, can produce a plant-based fuel, and can help sequester carbon by fully replacing fossil fuels.

“It’s the illogical social prejudice against a plant in a society that feels OK burning fossil fuels, knowing they are Gaia-cidal (earth-killing), but still continues to do it. Nothing can do the same things that cannabis does.”

Von Hartmann calls for a “polar shift of values from illegal to essential,” from demonizing it to seeing it as a valuable and taxable commodity — and “mankind’s functional interface with the natural order. Without it, we will never achieve sustainability.”

Decades of prohibition, he adds, were unfortunate, but now, “We can repurpose the military with the objective of expanding the arable base of the planet and regenerating damaged soils and halting their erosion. If we use carbon instead of petrol, we would be in symbiotic relationship with the planet, instead of being a parasite.”

Cannabis prohibition, he says, “was based on the great lie that it was bad for the human body. We know that’s not true, but, well, problems are profitable. People who made the most money from prohibition were the people who have the most money, like arms dealers and pharma. It was an anti-natural culture.”

Von Hartmann founded Southern Oregon Ministries Alliance, which has a Facebook page and is based around cannabis.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at



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