The Hemp Hating Cult of Prince George by Dan Loehndorf
Fuckin' Hippy! If another country attacked us right now, and tried to
invade... You wouldn't do nothin'! You'd just sit there and smoke pot!
This was not a line from some 1960’s government-funded documentary
featuring pious marijuanaphobes who wag frenzied fingers and tongues in
support of a drug-free society – and then go home to take a couple Valium
and calm down.My friend Drew had been drinking in a pub in northern British
Columbia, talking about hemp and its potential as a source of paper and
fibreboard, when some hemp-hating prophet of the cult of Believe What They
Tell You decided to share his wealth of ignorance with everyone present.
“Fuckin’ hippy,” the prophet kept mumbling.
Later, while Drew told me about the incident, I couldn’t help but wonder
why a discussion about hemp would provoke such a response from a local
millworker turned evangelist. What did fibreboard and paper have to do with
military service? I thought it might involve some strange belief system or
symbolism characteristic of the Believe What They Tell You faith.
Intrigued, I decided to investigate further. What is this cult’s central
dogma? How does it recruit new members? How does it enforce its laws?
The sighting of a cult member had recently been reported at Back to The
Garden, the local hemp store in Prince George. One Constable Jewett had
been there to threaten Darren Rinaldi, the store’s owner, with violating
of the cult’s Criminal Code. If pro-hemp information was not
removed from the shelves within a week, Darren would be charged. It looked
like I might have an opportunity to answer some of my questions about this
fanatical conspiracy of hemp-hating.
I found the store discretely tucked away in a back alley. Its walls, inside
and out, were camouflaged with painted trees whose trunks looked weaved
together in a fashion reminiscent of Celtic knotwork.
As I parked my car outside the doors, it occurred to me that I was indeed
entering a place where nature is worshiped- or at least respected- in a
manner that the old Celtic druids could not have disapproved of.
When I entered the store I found that many of the books on the shelves
focused entirely on the hemp issue, but there were also books that
addressed only environmental issues; books with pictures of unnatural
disasters like the Bowron Lake Kill. Here, the environmental benefits of
hemp are celebrated.
Darren told me about Jewett’s most recent visit as we smoked from my
“What happened when Constable Jewett came back a week later?” I asked.
“He came in and asked to borrow some books. So I said ‘sure’ and gave him a
copy of High Times, , The Emperor Wears No Clothes,
and a hydroponics grow book.”
“Did he ever return this material?”
“No… the way the RCMP work in most of these cases is that they walk in
without a warrant and seize everything, every piece of stock… if at that
point I had said ‘Fuck you, get out of here’, he could have seized all my
stock. I only lost four books, as opposed to a hundred.”
Constable Jewett has not returned to Darren’s store since then, and Darren
counts himself lucky. For my part, I am happy to have uncovered a clue to
how the cult keeps its laws: a Crack Force, made up of officials like
Constable Jewett, seem to have special dispensation to break the cult’s own
laws in order to enforce them.
Thus what would have been called “extortion” or “shoplifting” if anyone
else had done it is called “borrowing” when a constable of the Crack Force
does it. Never mind that the merchandise is not returned. Never mind that
section 462.2 of the Criminal Code has been deemed unconstitutional in an
Ontario Court, and shouldn’t be used to bully honest store-owners anyway.
Another pattern emerges as well. All of the cult members encountered so far
have been brainwashed against hemp. They are violent, bullying, and abusive
when confronted with even the printed word “hemp”. It occurs to me that
should one of them actually smell the burning of a joint, they might even
become homicidal. Cannabis smokers everywhere are at risk.
The next day I woke up, took a long puff on a roach that I found stuck to
one of yesterday’s socks, and hiked off in search of more information on
the cult. A friendly acquaintance of mine, a member of the Prince George
Airshed Management Committee named Greg Doucette, had some information for
me. I believed he might know something about the cult’s central dogma, and
the methods by which they recruit new members.
I arrived at Greg’s home and he welcomed me in. He sat just below a “Hemp
for Victory” poster and began to tell me about the Airshed Committee’s aim
to reduce air pollution in the city.
“The committee was formed because Prince George Air is bad. We have
really high rates of lung cancer, respiratory disease, bronchial diseases,
asthma, and allergies. We are among the worst three polluters in B.C.”
I asked him what he personally thinks might be the answer to the bad air
produced by pulp mills in Prince George.
“If we produced hemp instead of just wood products in this town, the air
quality would improve.” he replied.
I lit up my bubble-pipe (it filters out over
of the tar). “Puff?”
“Sure … Processing hemp uses a fifth of the chemicals that processing
wood products does. They don’t have to chlorinate it the same way; they
don’t have to produce as many emissions. Also, forests provide our air, and
clean it for us… planting hemp could prevent further deforestation.”
So why don’t people know about the practicality of hemp? It seems that the
local media has become an exclusive forum for hemp-hating cult members.
Greg pulled out an article written by Frank Peebles from the Prince
George Free Press entitled “Air heads strike back”. The article is
about the Airshed Committee’s latest attempts to raise awareness by wearing
WWII gas-masks around town. The article quotes Steve Lamble of the Ministry
of the Environment who claims that whenever recommended levels are
contravened, the town is put on alert. In the article Lamble also contends
that air quality has improved
since 1989. As Greg points out, the
information in the article is incorrect.
“The air smells better”, Greg says, “but that’s only because, for the last
while, they [the local mills]have been producing
doesn’t smell bad like
but it produces acid rain and is worse for your
Greg also reveals that the Ministry of the Environment has no regular
policy of alerting the public when pollution levels are higher than
normal. “They monitor it and write it down in their reports, but they don’t
contact the media or get it out to the public in any way on a regular
Peeble’s article was filled with misinformation. He got the date of Clean
Air Day wrong (it was June 7, not June 3), and all representatives of the
Airshed Committee, complain of being misquoted. Even Steve Lamble of the
Ministry of the Environment, complains about being misquoted. According to
Lamble, he was not even referring to overall air quality levels during his
interview with Peeble, only to the levels of one particular chemical.
Which answers how the hemp-hating cult of Believe What They tell You
indoctrinizes new members: the truth is simply kept from them. The cult’s
central dogma is ignorance. As a result of such ignorance, members of the
Airshed Committee (like others who advocate a pro-environmental or pro-hemp
stance), have been physically and verbally abused by people who could be
characterized as “rednecks”. People who, it appears, form a large
contingent of the cult’s membership.
Just a few days ago, Darren Rinaldi had told me why local workers have
nothing to fear from hemp. “The mills in the area don’t get enough pulp to
work at full capacity. The growing of hemp could supply extra pulp and
But the War on Drugs that this cult has initiated and maintained is not
based upon any logic or reasoned principle. It is pure animosity, fueled by
fanaticism. A jihad, holy war against the unbelievers. In the past, holy
wars like the Crusades have inspired their participants to abhorrent acts
of violence. Crusaders sometimes even carried the heads of a whole city’s
populace, impaled on sticks, into their next battle.
I believe it timely to point out that most of us cannabis smokers are not
unbelievers, we simply believe in something else. Personally, when I smoke
marijuana, I am sending a silent prayer to the heavens. A prayer that all
the smoke from all the joints ever puffed will come together into a giant
cloud. And that the rain from that cloud will make everyone in the world
stoned. Far too stoned to impale each other’s heads on sticks.
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