Gov. Ryan Should Weigh Fact Over Stereotype 

Gov. Ryan Should Weigh Fact Over Stereotype 
Posted by FoM on January 19, 2001 at 08:15:13 PT
Staff Editorial, Daily Egyptian
Source: Daily Egyptian
Gov. George Ryan currently holds a bill that could provide research opportunities for two state universities, ultimately jump-start Illinois' farm economy, reduce world deforestation and pesticide use and provide products ranging from nutrient-rich foods to sweaters. But Ryan's office said he will probably veto this bill, after it passed the Illinois Senate 49-9 in the spring, and the Illinois House 67-47 this month. 
Why would he veto a bill that would provide so many wonderful possibilities for Illinois? Because it's hemp, a member of the cannabis sativa family -- and illegal. The opponents of this bill, namely the Illinois State Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency, know that this bill does not make hemp legal. It simply makes it legal for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and SIUC to become research facilities for possible uses of hemp. But they are scared this is just another step toward a lax stance on illegal drugs. They are ignoring that Illinois farmers desperate for an alternative crop were the strongest lobbyists for this legislation, not advocates for the legalization of marijuana. They are ignoring that the North American Industrial Hemp Council doesn't accept pro-marijuana members. And they ignore the strong interest that paper industries are showing in the development of another fiber. As the world's forests are rapidly depleted, hemp would provide a valuable alternative paper fiber, wouldn't require pesticides, and has a productivity four times that of trees. There is a growing market for hemp products as well. In 1993, hemp worldwide sales were $5 million, in 1995 sales had grown to $75 million. A firm that tracks the industry estimates sales of $600 million by 2001. More industry and jobs would move into Illinois, because processing plants are needed near fields. Why should the United States import a product with growing demand when Illinois farmers are eager for the chance to grow it themselves? But opponents say the hemp bill undercuts our nation's drug stance, and could be a stepping stone to the legalization of marijuana. This rationale is merely choosing an old stereotype over reality. Hemp is nothing but a cousin to marijuana, and a person wanting to get high from hemp would have to smoke football fields of it in a very short time. There would be no "buzz," just a headache. The psychoactive part of marijuana, THC, makes up about 4 to 7 percent of marijuana. THC levels in hemp? A minuscule 0.1 to 0.4 percent, not near enough to have any kind of affect. But the stereotype is enough to block legislation similar to the Illinois' hemp bill throughout the United States. Some claim the legalization of hemp will allow pro-marijuana farmers to grow marijuana in the middle of fields of hemp, disguising it from law enforcement. But the plants grow differently, and hemp advocates say investigators should be able to easily tell them apart. Moreover, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and the Ukraine (all hemp-growing nations) report no police complaints about marijuana. SIUC has much to gain from the bill as well. U of I has excitedly expressed interest in hemp research, and SIUC's Agriculture Department cautiously said that hemp has potential. But SIUC has expressed concern about the cost, which could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. Federal guidelines are incredibly strict, and would require fencing and surveillance cameras. But the cost shouldn't stop SIUC -- this is a perfect opportunity for the University to remain on the cutting edge of research. It is likely that if the bill is signed, more legislation providing funding will be produced. The Daily Egyptian does not support the legalization of marijuana. But we do support the research of a completely different crop -- a crop that has myriad possibilities for the future, if only some could get past the stereotype and look at the facts. We urge Ryan to do just that and sign Senate Bill 1397. Source: Daily EgyptianPublished: January 18, 2001Fax: (618) 453-1992 Address: SIU M/S 6887 1247 Communications Building Carbondale, IL 62901Copyright: 2001 Daily EgyptianWebsite: Articles:Hemp Bill Awaiting Ill. Governor's Approval Has Doubts About Bill For Economic Hemp Study Bill Would Study Hemp as Alternative Crop - Hemp Archives
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 23, 2001 at 17:43:07 PT:
News Brief
Governor Vetoes Hemp Study Source: Associated PressPublished: Feb. 23, 2001 Copyright: 2001 Associated PressSpringfield, Ill. (AP) Gov. George Ryan vetoed a bill Friday that would have allowed state universities to study how well hemp would do as a cash crop.The bill would have directed the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University to research production of hemp, a relative of marijuana. The Legislature could have appropriated $1 million for the study.Hemp can be used in making things such as clothing and paper. But Ryan says the potential market isn't great enough to justify using that much tax money.``If there is indeed great interest in developing a viable market for hemp products, private funds for such a study should be available,'' Ryan wrote in his veto message.Anti-drug activists opposed the bill, saying its approval would send a mixed message to citizens, especially young people. Proponents said the mind-altering chemical in marijuana, called THC, was found in exceedingly small amounts in hemp.Ryan wrote that the bill should have required research into removing THC from hemp.``I will not ignore the unified concern of drug treatment and prevention groups that the ultimate commercial cultivation and availability of a product that contains a mind-altering substance would leave open the prospect of substance abuse,'' Ryan wrote.And he said there was no provision for studying what problems growing hemp would cause police.The bill is SB1397. On the Net:
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Comment #1 posted by Morgan on January 19, 2001 at 11:19:51 PT
Missing the point
If Industrial Hemp is ever legalized, the real reason for outlawing marijuana wouldn't exist. Marijuana has, is, and probably always will be a red herring used to suppress the Hemp industry, to keep it from competing with Oil, Timber, Cotton, and a plethora of other big businesses. The Daily Egyptian may not support the legalization of Marijuana, but in the eyes of the government, they might as well be.******************************************************
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