The refinery, the polluting factory, swallows Earth’s natural minerals, spews out toxic gas and poisonous urine from its orifices to produce millions of useful shiny products that will then be turned into planet-harming garbage. Don’t forget the energy it takes to violate a mega-chunk of land, the water it uses and destroys for generations.

Mines extract what makes our life more comfortable, like the next cell phone that we must buy. We need the oil and refineries to create polymers to produce the water bottle that I will use for an hour and dispose of like the trash it is. Trees must come down for paper, furniture and toothpicks. Ugh. The fact is that we need it all, and nothing is 100-percent “green”.

But look at all the things that can be made of hemp. Henry Ford produced a hemp-made, hemp-powered car in 1941. Surely my desktop can be made of hemp as well; parts of it at least. For sure tissue paper and the box it comes in can.

The Arizona hemp program began on June 1, which means the Arizona Department of Agriculture is now overseeing the legal growing, manufacture and distribution of the plant in the state. I wonder, is our very own Santa Cruz County in a unique geographical area to grow and capable of manufacturing hemp products?

Once harvested, hemp has over 50,000 different product applications across a range of industries, according to a recent report from Zion Market Research. That includes biodegradable plastic. Even its byproduct can be used or recycled. Santa Cruz is a high desert, with 18 inches of annual rain, equipped with logistical capabilities and product producing maquiladoras across the fence. Future scientists are an hour away to the north, and programs here like Startup find brilliant entrepreneurs. One plus one sounds like profit to me.

Also, its a chance to correct a wrong. In the early 20th century, to stoke fear against Mexican immigration, our government spread rumors about the “killer weed” Mexicans were bringing into the country that gave them superhuman strength, incited violent crimes and lust for blood. Later, hemp-based products were so great a threat to the oil and timber tycoons, they embarked on a long-lasting and effective smear campaign.

Imagine the world right now if hemp had been our main natural resource. We might have never needed to desecrate our natural environment.

What if instead of investing in mines, we invest in weed! What a difference a field of green would make in the place of a dead hole in the Santa Rita Mountains. In this use-it-and-toss-it world, products made of hemp polymers would fit with our consumer system. The demand would create jobs, not just for 10 years, and certainly it would not leave devastation behind.

An array of industries would pop up all over the county with “help wanted” signs in the windows. The world would be wiping their tushes with our hemp toilet paper and driving our hemp-powered, hemp cars, like Cheech and Chong’s van.

Opportunity is knocking. Can you smell that clean air with just a hint of weed? All we need to do is open the door.

(Glad is a resident of Nogales.)

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