Subj: the !% solution
Date: 1/31/99 1:39:51 AM Central Standard Time
war on drugs
war on environment
war on consciousness too
oh yeah, we got war
beware the tides that wash upon the beaches of insanity
hold to the sands of reason, they will drift us back to the source
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- PRESS RELEASE - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - -
A story is breaking in Nicaragua that should reach the world stage
soon. I just returned from trying to turn around an ugly situation, but
left without visible results. I hope some fair treatment in the U.S.
and Canadian media can do some good.
The story starts with a group of Canadian investors who wanted to do
some good for Nicaragua. Bankers, builders and merchants got together
and incorporated Hemp Agro International with offices in Vancouver,
Toronto and Managua. Their website (http://www.hempagro.com )
describes their project and development they hoped to bring to the
Nicaragua stagnates in the aftermath of series of natural disasters and
a U.S. financed civil war. If there was ever a place to demonstrate
industrial hemp’s utility for sustainable economic development,
Nicaragua is it. Hemp Agro planted 100 acres of Chinese hempseed and
hired a full-time professional botanist to supervise a crop improvement
program. The company envisioned growing a series of hempseed crops,
pressing the seeds for oil, making products from hemp oil and utilizing
the stalks for particleboard. The project was dependent on their
developing an improved tropical variety of seed hemp, something not
being attempted anywhere else in the world.
The project took on additional significance in the aftermath of
Hurricane Mitch. Tens of thousands of homes need to be replaced. The
relief agencies had a choice, cut down thousands of acres of trees for
building materials or accelerate the building of the hemp stalk
particleboard mill. Most of the traditional crops suffered heavy damage
during the storm, Hemp Agro’s crop withstood the winds and rain. Fifty
employees were busy harvesting bags full of hemp seed and building a
mountain of hemp stalks.
That’s when a U.S. DEA agent went ballistic. One day before Christmas,
he caused an army of black hooded soldiers to move in and occupy the
field. The men each posed for their picture in front of the large
signboard that marked the “Hemp Agro Nicaragua, S.A. Research and
Development Site.” See:
(This and the following links are in Spanish. For those who do not
speak Spanish, paste these URL’s into
http://babelfish.altavista.com/cgi-bin/translate? for a rough
translation into English.) Then they began the long task of gathering
the crop in piles and setting them on fire.
Dr. Paul Wylie, the Canadian horticulturist who was hired by the group
to supervise the project, was feeling pretty satisfied with his work in
Nicaragua. His employees were busy harvesting their first crop of
seeds. He had learned quite a bit about growing hemp in the tropics.
Christmas was approaching and the harvesting would have to stop for the
holidays. Dr. Wylie was in a taxi on his way back from the bank with
the payroll for his 50 workers. A black car tried to force them off the
road. A couple of motorcycles approached. Both Wylie and his driver
thought they were being robbed. The driver started to head up on the
curb to get away when bullets began tearing up the cab. Wylie and the
driver were terrified until their attackers finally identified
themselves as police. Wylie thought his troubles were over, but they
were just beginning.
Wylie was arrested and taken to the brig. The same prison that former
dictator, Anastasio Somoza, used for his worst political enemies. A
perfect movie set for an 1850's western, except it's an historic
military base. Perched on the rim of the volcano, it's got an
incredible view. Only the prisoners can't see a thing, they are kept
in dungeons underground.
In Nicaragua, you are considered guilty until proven innocent. Forget
the right to counsel, forget the right to remain silent, this is not
America. In the aftermath of his arrest, ten days of hearings took
place on the case, only Wylie had no right to attend or help his
attorneys prepare. He was locked up tight. Bail or bond were not
available. Without an explanation of the charges, Wylie could not even
figure out what he was being accused of. Thankfully, his wife was able
to bring him food every day. Without family support like this,
Because of my expertise in hemp and my legal credentials, I was asked to
hurry down to Nicaragua and help the local attorneys the investors hired
to bring reason to the situation. I was determined to prove to myself
and the court that this really was industrial hemp and not marijuana
that was being grown. I also wanted to visit Dr. Wylie and see if I
could raise his spirits.
It took a court order to visit a prisoner in the brig, even for
attorneys and translators. Armed with a court order that took days to
obtain, the guards still only allowed us a short, 15-minute visit. It
was barely enough time for introductions, and no time to get to the
details of the case. Still, Wylie was able to briefly describe his
Dr. Wylie described it as the George Washington Carver method of crop
improvement. Start with seeds from as close to the original source as
possible. (Hemp originated in S.E. Asia.) This way you get the most
genetic diversity. Plant a million plants. From these, find the
thousand specimens that best match your breeding objectives. From these
prime plants, plant a million seeds. Plant the seeds from the best 1000
plants for five years and you will see spectacular improvements in the
breeding of that crop.
It was an ambitious attempt to create a tropical variety of low THC
industrial hemp, but the U.S. DEA got in the way. Our drug warriors
refuse to recognize a difference between hemp and marijuana. This is
why the DEA is being sued by a group of Kentucky farmers. The U.S.
employed DEA agent looked at the plant in a microscope and saw the
glandular trichromes characteristic of Cannabis. He concluded therefore
it must be marijuana, never considering that legal industrial hemp also
has these characteristic parts.
Nicaragua is in a vulnerable position. It needs a massive influx of
foreign aid to begin its recovery from the civil war and Hurricane
Mitch. Pressure from the U.S. diplomats forced the government to act
quickly. One government minister after another came to court to
kowtowing to the foreign imperialists. Politicians who praised the
project a week before began denying that they gave approval or claimed
that the investors lied to get their permits.
Ten days of hearings were held over the New Year’s holiday. The tide
turned from whether a crime had been committed to which government heads
would roll for allowing this scandal to develop.
The scandal has occupied the front page in Managua’s three papers since
it broke the day before Christmas. As the tide turned against the
defendants, the papers got more vicious.
Monday’s paper featured one story about the trial
and another entitled “They Sell Crack in the Schools” about a government
report that ended up describing the 100 acre bust.
Each of the Canadians investors in the project are now charged with
major drug crimes. They are subject to arrest in Canada and extradition
to Nicaragua under the reciprocal provisions of the treaties intended to
bring narcotrafficantes north for trial in the U.S. or Canada. We are
not describing a typical bunch of criminals. Hemp Agro International
was founded by established Canadian citizens who wanted to do some good
for the world. As part of their many applications for permits from
various Nicaragua Agencies, the group provided the authorities with
paperwork certifying they each had clean criminal records in Canada.
Most had never thought about ever finding themselves in a criminal
One problem confuses the issue for all involved. For the position of
local manager, the investors chose to hire an historic figure, Oscar
Danilo Blandón. Blandón is a central character in the C.I.A. drug
running scandal that was so well exposed by Gary Webb in the San Jose
Mercury News and in his recent book Dark Alliance. Blandón was one of
the founders of the Contra party and remains well connected with the
power structure in Nicaragua. But to finance the contra armies in the
Reagan 1980’s, Blandón helped import tons of cocaine into America. He
served almost two years in a federal prison. Blandón holds an MBA, is
bilingual and became quite excited by the potential of what hemp can do
for his country. He proved a natural choice for project manager. But
the tide turned. When the government and media branded this research
plot as the “largest marijuana bust in the history of Central America,”
Blandón’s checkered history seemed to be as proof that these gringos
were up to no good.
Hemp Agro had obtained more than twenty licenses for conducting business
in Nicaragua. The Agricultural Ministry was informed as to their plans
and had issued licenses for the importation of Chinese seed. Nothing
was hidden here, the company was doing all it could to enlist government
support for the planned particleboard mill and oil crushing mill. The
government ministers were invited to see the field. A large sign marked
its location. The paperwork filed in Nicaragua gave the names of all of
the investors. Would these steps be taken for a field of marijuana?
The defense lawyers decided to put me on the stand to give expert
testimony about hemp. It was a frustrating experience. “We call it
‘going to Vietnam’” the attorneys told me in an effort to prepare me for
the hearing. “It’s brutal, ugly and take no prisoners.” They were
right. The usual civil behavior of attorneys that I am used to was not
present there at all. It was war.
We prepared more than 100 pages of journal articles translated into
Spanish for the court. But because these were not originals, they were
not admissible. Court was held in a cramped office lined by desks with
old manual typewriters. It proceeded slowly because a secretary needed
type a live transcript. In my case, since my Spanish was not up to
speed, a translator did his best to make meaning of my technical
presentation, phrase by phrase. It crawled slowly. When a question was
posed to me, the transcript would be made, the secretary would read it
back as my translator put it in English, I would answer pausing for the
translation and the typing. It dragged on until 7:00 p.m. on New Years
The courtroom was crowed with newspaper reporters and photographers who
would crowded in to snap close-ups of my face. Nobody was introduced
and I was not allowed to ask any questions. When I was done the
lawyers commenced arcane legal arguments centering on why I did not
present an embossed identification of myself as an attorney and
botanist. The judge kept my bar card. I am used to court, but this
was something else. It was an ambush.
I was able to describe for the court the differences between hemp and
marijuana. I explained the difference in the way the crop was grown and
harvested. The evidence was that the employees were beating the
harvested plants on a rail “like beans.” This was clearly grown and
harvested seed hemp and was totally inconsistent with the methods of
planting and harvesting marijuana. I explained that contrary to the
assertion of the DEA, that international law gave Nicaragua sovereignty
to decide the question for itself. “Cannabis grown for the purpose of
industrial use” was excepted from the treaty provisions. A limit on
the level of THC in the crop was up to Nicaragua to define.
Switzerland, for example, has not set a limit.
I described the market for the seeds and why the oil was so special. I
explained that the test performed by the DEA incapable of discriminating
hemp and marijuana. DEA agents were not violating the sovereignty of
Canada or Switzerland, yet they felt at home running roughshod over our
Central American neighbor. I explained why the researchers had to go to
China for their seed, nothing close was available in Europe or America.
The low-THC European varieties were for a far different latitude and
climate and would not work in Nicaragua. Besides, they are all so
protected by plant patents, registrations and restrictive contracts that
the seeds would have to be bought every year. This means they would
never acclimate to the Nicaraguan growing conditions and would be too
unreliable to anchor an industry. China has grown hemp for seed for
thousands of years. The people of the region where the seeds originated
do not even have a concept of the use of the hemp plant as a drug.
I told the judge of the 22 web sites I found that sold marijuana seeds.
The minimum price offered was $5 per seed. At 60,000 seeds per
kilogram, a kilo of seeds would be worth $300,000. The 15,000-kilogram
container shipment from China would be 4.5 billion dollars if it were
marijuana. I said it was impossible and crazy to assume that this much
seed could be marijuana. Besides, I told the court, this particular
shipment of seeds was examined by the U.S. Customs while the container
was being transshipped in Long Beach, California. The container was
emptied for a DEA inspection. Only hempseeds were found. They
released the shipment to go forward to its destination in Nicaragua.
I described what a hemp economy could do for Nicaragua in terms of
employment and self-sufficiency. I gave good references for the
Canadian defendants whom I had met. I tried to help, but it felt like I
was talking to air. Yesterday, the judge found probable cause to hold
the defendants up for charges. Dr. Wylie will have to languish in jail
while the government works to extradite the other defendants from Canada
and the U.S. Once arrested and returned “to the scene of the crime”,
the defendants will have no more rights than Dr. Wylie did upon his
arrest. Most of the defendants were only inactive investors in the
project. They have never set foot in Nicaragua. Now they will have to
hire attorneys, fight extradition and suffer having their reputations
smeared around the world.
Nicaragua seems adept at shooting itself in the foot on a regular
basis. What started out as an exciting project to bring a new industry
to a place it was truly needed, has now turned into an international
scandal. It’s not just the investors who are affected. For Nicaragua
to progress it will need help from foreign industries and
industrialists, foreign technology and technologists. When the story of
how Dr. Paul Wylie was treated for his efforts in Nicaragua is spread in
the international community, it will be hard to get others to commit to
even visiting the country. The real losers are the local compesinos who
stood to gain steady employment in the project. As it is, the
government agents kept the $5000 payroll they seized from Dr. Wylie.
The workers missed their Christmas pay.
There are no winners in this story. The toll will continue as long as
our government obscures the difference between hemp and marijuana and
its agents run roughshod over the rights of the people of Central
I am trying to get some help spreading the word on this story. If the
government spreads it, it will be all about marijuana. The word hemp
will not make it into the story. I have to come out aggressively to get
the word to the media that there is a lot more behind this "bust" than
meets the eye. Anyone with suggestions is welcome to write or call.
For more information, please contact Don Wirtshafter (740) 662-4367
or Grant Sanders, Hemp Agro International (905) 681-1110
Don Wirtshafter, Ohio Hempery Inc. Products the Earth Can Afford
Call or write for our free catalog: Order Line 1-800-BUY-HEMP
7002 S.R. 329, Guysville, OH 45735 shop on line:
(740)662-4367 fax(740)662-6446 http://www.hempery.com
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with the command "unsubscribe sanet-mg". To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command "subscribe sanet-mg-digest".
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: http://www.sare.org/htdocs/hypermail