Hemp Bill Questions Remain 

Hemp Bill Questions Remain 
Posted by FoM on March 05, 2002 at 10:13:32 PT
By Sam Tranum, Daily Mail Capitol Reporter 
Source: Charleston Daily Mail 
A bill that would legalize cultivation of industrial hemp in West Virginia has been moving smoothly through the Legislature. But even if it becomes law, West Virginians might not be able to grow the marijuana-like plant without breaking the law, said Bill Steffick of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The House Judiciary Committee voted Monday to advance the bill. It has already been approved by the Senate.
The legislation would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp for use in products like clothing, rope, paper, bath products and car dashboards.The issue is controversial because hemp is closely related to marijuana. The bill's proponents say the most important difference between the two plants is that ingesting industrial hemp won't get a person high."Industrial hemp is in the same family as marijuana but so are snakes and lizards in the same family and they're totally different," said Sen. Karen Facemyer, R-Jackson, who is lead sponsor of the bill.However low the concentration is, industrial hemp still contains a small amount of the key hallucinogenic ingredient from marijuana, Steffick said."Any product that contains any amount of THC is a schedule one controlled substance," he said.By that logic, growing industrial hemp is illegal. "Any company that would be doing this, since the grace period has expired, would be guilty of a violation of law," Steffick said.It seems simple but rule changes -- the most recent was Feb. 6 -- regarding the status of industrial hemp have apparently made the plant's status with the Drug Enforcement Administration a little unclear."I would imagine that a lot of this -- as long as we don't get involved with the human consumption issue -- a lot of this will resolve itself," Steffick said about growing industrial hemp.What's the bottom line? Is it legal to grow, manufacture, buy or sell industrial hemp that is not for human consumption?"You have some questions there that I basically can't answer because this is just an area that there's going to have to be some more discussion on this," Steffick said.He referred further questions to his agency's Washington headquarters. No representative from that office was available for comment Monday afternoon.Facemyer has said that the state would need to work with the Drug Enforcement Administration to move forward with growing industrial hemp. Under her legislation, the Department of Agriculture would be charged with regulating the crop.Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Steve Hannah said he did not know what process the state would have to work through with the Drug Enforcement Administration."To be honest with you I'm not absolutely sure," he said. "I guess if that bill passes we'll get to work on it and find out."But he said he supports the legalization of the crop."We support any alternative crop that will bring income and increase farm income to West Virginia farmer," Hannah said.Hawaii passed legislation in 1999 similar to what West Virginia is now considering. The state is finding out first hand how the Drug Enforcement Administration treats industrial hemp cultivation.A single, privately funded, experimental plot of the crop is growing in the Aloha State, said a legislative analyst for Hawaii State Representative Cynthia Thielen, a proponent of the state's industrial hemp project.The crop is being cultivated by academic researchers at an undisclosed location, surrounded by barbed wire and protected by a security system, Melody Heidel said.She said the bill approved by the Hawaii state legislation to legalize the test plot is going to expire soon. Hawaii's Legislature is considering legislation that would extend the deadline. "Part of the issue is that three years really is not enough time agriculturally to have really accurate results," Heidel said.Despite the obstacles, Heidel was optimistic about hemp's prospects in Hawaii. This year's legislation will likely pass, she said.Thielen does not have any data on the effect the cultivation of industrial hemp might have on Hawaii's economy, Heidel said. But a wide range of products can be manufactured out of the crop so if Hawaii grows industrial hemp, there will be a market, she said.It's the same argument Facemyer made Monday at West Virginia's Capitol. The United States imports $300 million worth of hemp annually, she told Judiciary Committee members."This is probably one of the biggest economic development packages we have in front of us this year," she said.Note: House passes proposal, but legality still up in air.Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)Author: Sam Tranum, Daily Mail Capitol Reporter Published: Tuesday, March 05, 2002Contact: editor dailymail.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:FTE's Hemp Links Backs Hemp Bill Bill Passed To Senate Judiciary Wants More Information on Hemp 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #1 posted by freddybigbee on March 07, 2002 at 10:54:27 PT:
We Have Your Money
"But even if it becomes law, West Virginians might not be able to grow the marijuana-like plant without breaking the law, said Bill Steffick of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration."That's great, Bill. Congratulations, you're a hero. You can screw over farmers in addition to herb consumers.The DEA "message" to our children seems to be, "We have your money and we're going to use it to repress you any which way we can." Never any consideration of what's fair, just, good for the country and it's citizens. How can society prosper when decent men go to prison, and weasels knaw at our privates?
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment