Russian Hemp Honored in Statues and Stories (Yet, Still Repressed)

CANNABIS CULTURE – I’ve been informed that in between sheaves of wheat depicted on the Peoples Friendship Fountain in Moscow are sunflowers and cannabis leaves.

Fountain shown above. (Read more in Russian).

The fountain was built between 1951 and ’54 and features 16 golden women representing Republics of the Soviet Union, as well as the three plants chosen to represent Russia’s agricultural bounty.

Nonetheless, when activists chose the fountain as a meeting place for a pro-pot rally in May 2008, they found the site barricaded and one peaceful protestor was beaten by police.

Russian hemp is historically important, according to Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes, in which he theorizes that the War of 1812 was fought because Napoleon was trying to blockade the country’s hemp crop before it reached Britian’s navy.

Russian writer Leon Tolstoy mentions a “high-growing, fragrant hemp-patch” in Anna Karenina (1873), and Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) writes of hemp fields, seeds and oils in his stories. Hashish makes a surprising appearance in a dinner party conversation in playwright Anton Chekhov‘s A Woman’s Kingdom (1895).

Hemp is still being grown in Russia but a Siberian experiment to grow “drug free” hemp has failed.

Meanwhile, Canadian hempseed food producer Naturally Splendid has just signed a distribution agreement with Sonray Sales to distribute their products in the US. Sonray also has customers in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia and Switzerland.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, there’s a statute for the Ukraine at the fountain. I’m guessing the Ukrainians aren’t exactly feeling the friendship right now. It’s a shame we’re always waging wars on people, and plants.

Ellen Komp is Deputy Director of California NORML and a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. She manages the website and blogs at Tokin Woman.