Road Trip: Detroit

The auto industry in Detroit has been dismantled for decades, leaving the “Big Three,” General Motors, the Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US barely standing. Its neighborhoods have become a virtual wasteland of burned-out homes and empty fields. Unions were to blame, they said, but with Third World countries offering up cheap labor, the corporate bottom line, not human need, took precedence.


Legalize to Educate

Since the knowledge of industrial hemp for fuel and materials has resurfaced, those in the know are looking to the auto industry for real changes in our transportation’s environmental footprint.

Psych Healing Shack Detroit
Psych Healing Shack

In 2013, BMW announced its i3 electric model was made lighter and more efficient by using hemp fibers throughout; while Ford announced its cars will have 30 percent worth of recycled content.

Cannabis as medicine has been legal in Michigan since voters gave it the nod in 2008, with 18 cities decriminalizing its use altogether, including Detroit. Verbiage on Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ (LARA) website states, “The program implements the statutory tenets of this act in such a manner that protects the public and assures the confidentially of its participants.”

Nice words, but not exactly true, as the state nor its cities and counties have adopted workable ordinances to protect those who would help patients with safe access under state law.

Dozens of recent raids have shut down medical storefronts operating without the safety net of a business license. Dispensaries operate under caregiver licenses only, allowing just five patients per license under a drafty umbrella.

Now anticipating legalization for recreational use, cities in Michigan are panicking, enacting bans that would stop further education on good medicine. But the irony of legalization is the lack of persecution actually allows medicine makers to come out of the smoky closet of prohibition, with communities getting healed–not wasted–and less money going to pharmaceutical companies.

As Detroit grapples with its ever crumbling economy, the hope is that the education of cannabis as medicine, and the bounty that hemp has to offer, will reach its officials in time to make a difference for many.


Petroleum Based Pharma

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Detroit Grass Station Ad on the wall

In 1949, Morris Allison Bealle penned The Drug Story, tracing the beginning of the petroleum-based pharmaceutical industry to the 1860s and William Rockefeller’s first patent of raw petroleum as a cure for cancer while revealing its frauds.

Father to John D. Rockefeller, William was a farmer in upstate New York until 1850 when he moved to Cleveland and registered as a “physician,” peddling his snake oil of raw petroleum called “Nujol” or “new oil,” with son John’s Standard Oil researchers seeing huge profits from byproduct that would have otherwise been tossed.

Today there are more than 300 cannabis dispensaries within Detroit’s city limits, and while they recently adopted a business license process, it’s limited to “Medical Marihuana Caregiver Centers,” with each employee of said centers requiring a caregiver license. Any retail center operating prior to the new ordinance will be noted as “operating illegally.”


Illegally Healed

To make matters worse, the lack of education on ingesting cannabis as real medicine–not just smoking to relieve symptoms and getting high–is prominent throughout even the cannabis community.

For along with Detroit’s newfound ordinances allowing licensing, the city simultaneously enacted a ban on concentrates made with Butane hash oil (BHO), leaving many shelves empty–albeit for flower to smoke.

Detroit patients must now travel to other cities for edible or topical products–boosting the economy of more fortunate neighborhoods. Or, they go back to the black market, as was witnessed by this writer during a visit to a Detroit apartment when a guest emerged from a back bedroom, hands full of infused gummy bears, topical salve, and a few cartridges of CBD smoking oil.

The Detroit resident purchasing the products was suffering from myriad side effects from cancer treatments, medicating illegally within his own city limits, in a medically legal state.

As Detroit grapples with its ever crumbling economy, the hope is that the education of cannabis as medicine, and the bounty that hemp has to offer, will reach its officials in time to make a difference for many. Until then, the plant continues to prevail for patients in spite of the Midwestern mindset and the powers that be.

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Detroit Grass Station


Backstory: A Brief History Of Plant-Based Fuels And Materials In The Automotive Industry

Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were close friends. The two owned winter homes next door to each other in Florida, where Edison had a botanical library researching industrial uses of plants. Both were friends of farmers and convinced that the energy from plants and the industrial materials they produced could be used for the greater good.

By 1941 Ford had created a car made of plastic manufactured and fueled mostly from plants.

“It will be a car of darn sight better design in every form,” he announced via the New York Times in February of 1941. “And don’t forget the motor car business is just one of the industries that can find new uses for plastics, made from what’s grown in the land!”

Three hundred pounds lighter than Ford’s steel-framed model and said to be more durable than metal, his plastic car from the garden was made from a combination of “strong fibers,” that included corn, ramie, hemp, straw, soy, and slash pine fiber–fueled, in part, by a combination of ethanol made from corn.

Ironically, DuPont had already created the first synthetic material from petroleum in 1935, with its own patent for Nylon registered in 1937. Nylon initially replaced silk for women’s hosiery, but the petroleum-based material was just the start of a plastic industrial revolution that spawned the pharmaceutical industry–successfully replacing plant-based medicines.

Though electric cars had been produced around the world since the late 1800s, saving energy via batteries, combined with a lack of speed, did not make them attractive to the consumer. Ford himself built one as an experiment in 1895 and was said to have had a personal collection of electric cars made at the time.

It wasn’t until 1913 that Ford announced via the New York Times, “Within a year, I hope, we shall begin the manufacture of an electric automobile…The fact is that Mr. Edison and I have been working for some years on an electric automobile which would be cheap and practicable… The problem so far has been to build a storage battery of lightweight, which would operate for long distance without recharging. Mr. Edison has been experimenting with such a batter for some time.”

An energy plant was purchased in Niagra Falls and a manufacturing plant was set-up in Dearborn, but all was lost by fire in December of 1914. Instead, Ford went into production with his combustion engine that was said to be less costly to the consumer.

Some speculate the drug war was created out of sheer prejudice to minorities, specifically blacks and Hispanics where cannabis, then hemp, were concerned. Did the powers that be use prejudice as smoke and mirrors to demonize hemp, and the use of plant-based fuels and industrial materials?

We can’t change the past, but we can move forward with the newfound knowledge of the power of plants, specifically hemp, and its relationship to the sun and the energy found naturally on our planet.

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