It's High Time for Hemp, Say Farmers! 

It's High Time for Hemp, Say Farmers! 
Posted by FoM on March 12, 1999 at 16:11:56 PT

WASHINGTON It's high time for hemp, say farmers who are enlisting state legislatures in an effort to legalize cultivation of the potentially profitable non-hallucinogenic cousin of marijuana. 
Montana and Virginia have formally called for an end to a federal ban on ``industrial'' hemp, and the Minnesota Senate this week passed a bill, backed by Gov. Jesse Ventura, aimed at permitting experimental hemp production. The Hawaii House this week voted to have the state grow a 10-acre test crop. Hemp is now grown in more than 20 countries for a variety of products, including cosmetics, beer, plastics and paper. New Hampshire, North Dakota and Tennessee also are actively considering pro-hemp legislation, while lawmakers in New Mexico recently funded hemp research, according to Agri-Tech Communications Inc., which tracks the agricultural fiber business. Former CIA Director James Woolsey was recently hired by the North American Industrial Hemp Council to lobby for repeal. ``Until the federal government relents, our state efforts aren't going to do much,'' said David Monson, a North Dakota legislator who wants to grow hemp on his grain farm near the Canadian border. Hemp was perhaps the first plant farmed for fiber -- George Washington once grew it -- but it was a victim of the U.S. government's move to end marijuana production in the 1930s. Canada started allowing hemp production last year. Farmers planted 6,000 acres of the weed, claiming profits of as much as $200 an acre, this at a time when growers struggle just to break even on traditional crops like wheat. The Drug Enforcement Administration and Justice Department were petitioned a year ago to go repeal the DEA's ban on hemp. But the DEA and the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy have said that permitting hemp farming would send the wrong signal to young people. They also worry that marijuana farmers could hide their crops with industrial hemp plants. Police rely on aerial imagery to detect marijuana fields. ``The seedlings are the same and in many instances the mature plants look the same,'' the Office of National Drug Control Policy says in a statement. That's all the more reason to permit industrial hemp, according to pro-hemp forces. Hemp's tendency to cross-pollinate would make it risky to cultivate marijuana nearby, because that might hurt the potency of the marijuana crop, agronomists say. ``You have to be really, really stupid to hide marijuana in an industrial hemp field,'' Woolsey said. Police counter that cross-pollination could produce hemp with a kick. Marijuana normally contains 3 percent to 15 percent or more of THC, the psychoactive ingredient, while hemp has 1 percent or less. There's also disagreement about hemp's commercial potential. USDA researchers concluded that it was a ``novelty product for a novelty market.'' But a University of Kentucky study last year estimated hemp could bring farmers anywhere from $220 to $600 an acre, depending on whether it was grown for its fiber or its seeds. North Dakota State University researchers said hemp could be a useful rotation crop for wheat and potato farmers. ``Industrial hemp should be considered an alternative crop,'' said Roger Moe, the Democratic majority leader in Minnesota's state Senate. ``It's certainly not going to replace the mainstays of agriculture.''
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Comment #1 posted by Montana NORML on March 13, 1999 at 20:27:22 PT:
Montana hemp resolution
Wow, it's great to see something that you helped to get rolling make national news. If anyone is interested in reading the full text of HR 2, the Montana resolution calling upon the feds to end the prohibition of cultivation of industrial hemp, it's here: see what else we're working on here in Montana, pop on over to our website:
Montana NORML
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