Hemp and the Declaration of Independence
The first time I heard that the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper I had only one thought on my mind. How am I going to smoke the Declaration of Independence? If Method Man and Red Man saw Benjamin Franklin’s ghost when they smoked weed that was grown from Benjamin Franklin’s ashes, imagine the things you would see if you smoked a Declaration joint.
Needless to say, I have learned many things since I first heard this myth. First off, which many of you are likely to know, is the fact that hemp does not get you high. It contains so little THC that you would need to smoke just about as much hemp to get high as you would need to smoke marijuana to die. Even Michael Phelps with his lung capacity couldn’t pull it off.
So, upon finding this out my dreams of getting high off the Declaration of Independence were shattered. I must have been a freshmen or sophomore in high school, so don’t worry I still had plenty to live for, and I started to investigate. I became interested in the wonders of hemp, and to this day can rattle off various facts about hemp that I learned nearly a decade ago. For example, the guy on the 1 dollar bill, the guy on the 2 dollar bill, the guy on the 10 dollar bill, and the guy on the 100 dollar bill all grew hemp. So, that’s Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Benjamin aka Benjy Franklin. Also, the guys on the 5 and 20 are known to have smoked marijuana, that’s Lincoln and Jackson. It is also believed that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag from hemp fibers. But, back to Benjy.
The guy grew hemp, owned a mill that turned hemp into paper, and wrote the Declaration of Independence on paper. It seems very likely that the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. And, the first draft and many subsequent drafts of it were in fact written on hemp paper. But, the Declaration on display at the National Archives, the final copy, was written on parchment (made from animal skin).
So, is “THE” Declaration of Independence written on hemp, no it is not. But, the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper, without hemp paper who knows how different it would be today. So saying the Declaration is written on hemp paper is just like saying Benjamin Franklin wrote the Declaration of Independence, even though the final copy was actually written on parchment by Timothy Matlack, who was Franklin’s assistant. So, depending on how technical you get, you could argue either way that Benjamin Franklin did or did not write the Declaration just as it was or was not written on hemp paper.
Sorry if we shattered anyone’s dreams, just thought we’d get the truth out there. The most important thing to take away from this is that anyone who agrees that Benjamin Franklin wrote the Declaration must also agree that it was written on hemp paper. Only an uptight history buff would argue that technically it was Timothy Matlack who wrote it on parchment.
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