Hemp is a crop you can BANK on

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Cannabis Is MORE Valuable Than Gold.

The use of cannabis as a de facto currency predates the founding of the United States and may be found in the historical record in the early 17th century. In Hemp: Lifeline to the Future, Chris Conrad notes that “hemp was used for money in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800’s” (1st Ed., p. 24). It was one of many de facto currencies prevalent in the region before British Parliament passed the homogenizing Currency Act of 1751; faced with competing notes of fluctuating value issued by thirteen separate colonial governments, many colonists preferred the congruity and stability of easily measured commodities like beaver skins, tobacco leaves and, yes, hemp. The practice of trading hemp seeds became so commonly accepted that many colonial governments passed laws allowing colonists to pay some or all of their taxes in hemp seed, including Virginia (1682), Maryland (1683), Pennsylvania (1706) and Massachusetts (1735).

The tradition revived in the 20th century, when jazz musicians, Beats and hippies began trading cannabis in the underground economy. In his memoir, Really the Blues, jazz pioneer “Mezz” Mezzrow describes his first time receiving a joint of cannabis outside a Midwestern club where he was part of the orchestra. Amazed at the power of the drug to unleash his musical creativity, Mezzrow set up his own underground network distributing “reefers” to his friends in the Harlem jazz scene.

Sometimes he charged, but at other times “Mezz” and his associates bartered, using cannabis once again as a kind of currency. Just as commonly, members of the underground economy traded cannabis for favors, knowing that their friends would get them back when and if they could. The same spirit carried forward through the 60’s and 70’s, with generations of hippies unknowingly acting out the same pattern of sharing economy which they inherited from the great Harlem jazz musicians who preceded them.

But now, with state regulations in Washington and Colorado strictly regulating the cannabis industry, the long history of using the commodity in the place of money has come under threat. Rules like the 25% excise tax of Washington state only contemplate the value of cannabis as a product exchanged for cash, a paradigm harshly reinforced by license applications prohibitive liquidity for any would-be entrepreneur attempting to enter the business.

It's a new paradigm. Who knows what may happen? With such massive shifts happening in the cannabis market, perhaps even a long-honored tradition like cannabis for currency could be regulated out of existence.