State Prepares for Commercial Growth of Hemp

  State Prepares for Commercial Growth of Hemp

Posted by FoM on April 08, 2002 at 11:55:35 PT
By Sam Tranum, Daily Mail Capitol Reporter  
Source: Charleston Daily Mail  

Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass used to oversee the state workers who slashed and burned wild marijuana in an effort to eradicate it from the hills of the Potomac Valley. But that was more than two decades ago. Now Douglass is the man in charge of growing hemp in West Virginia. "I sit here and whatever the laws demand, we in the Department of Agriculture will attempt to move in that direction," Douglass said this week. 
Gov. Bob Wise recently signed the Industrial Hemp Act, kicking into motion a plan for West Virginians to cultivate the marijuana-like plant for use in clothing, bath products, car dashboards and other products. Skeptics say hemp is marijuana by another name. But Sen. Karen Facemyer, R- Jackson, who sponsored the Hemp Act, said there is a big difference -- industrial hemp won't get anyone high. Proponents hope West Virginia can take advantage of an untapped market. No other state is producing hemp for the commercial uses at this point, though Hawaii is growing a test crop. There is still at least one major hurdle between West Virginia and hemp wealth - - the federal government isn't sure whether it's going to allow commercial cultivation of hemp. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman has said industrial hemp cultivation is stuck in legal limbo. When asked whether it was legal to grow industrial hemp, Bill Steffick of the federal drug agency said he couldn't answer that question. "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," he said.Douglass said step one for the state's industrial hemp project is going to be navigating the federal rules. He said he hopes to work with West Virginia University's Davis College of Agriculture to do some experimentation on growing industrial hemp. Bill Vinson, associate director for the agriculture school's experiment station, said the school stood ready to help. "I don't know the specifics. I do know that we are ready to support West Virginia Department of Agriculture in their research programs in whatever way we can," he said. Facemyer said she hoped the ambiguities in the laws regarding industrial hemp would be resolved by the time the university's research was done and the state was ready to move into commercial production. She said advocates of industrial hemp have been pushing hard for its legalization. U.S. Rep. Nick Joe Rahall, D-W.Va., has said he'll support that effort. "Illegal drugs have no place in American society," he said in a statement. "But industrial hemp is not a drug. Thirty nations -- including Canada and Japan -- harvest industrial hemp that we import into our country. Our farmers could become a part of this global industry."This will not be the first time that West Virginia University has helped the state with research for cannabis. Or the first time state residents grew a hemp crop. During World War II, the Japanese interrupted American's Philippine hemp supply. The federal government asked states to pitch in and grow hemp so the Navy could have all the rope it needed to fight the war.Douglass said the hemp he was in charge of eradicating years ago spread from an old rope factory in Petersburg. Besides making rope from it, West Virginia has toyed with using hemp as a legal drug. The Legislature legalized marijuana use for medical purposes in the late 1970s. At the time West Virginia University was involved in research on how effective the drug was in treating glaucoma and the side effects of cancer treatment. Complete Title: Ready For New Cash Crop - State Prepares for Commercial Growth of Industrial HempSource: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)Author: Sam Tranum, Daily Mail Capitol Reporter Published: Monday April 08, 2002Contact: editor dailymail.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Hemp Links Bill Questions Remain Backs Hemp Bill Bill Passed To Senate Judiciary

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Comment #1 posted by Dark Star on April 08, 2002 at 12:33:20 PT

Wild Times in Appalachia
First it was "hillbilly heroin." Now those West Virginians want to grow hemp, and with the DEA and DC just downstream. Can you imagine?The DEA will not like this. Listen to this articulate chap:
"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," he said.He's obviously well versed in the proper use of the English language, at least as well as the Commander-in-Chief. I bet he wasn't a legacy at Yale, though. Perhaps when the hill people grow hemp, they can make ropes with which unemployed DEA personnel can hang themselves.
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