Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hemp, from hippie to hip

The issues surrounding of the plight of the hemp industry really has me upset.   Beyond the fact that I my money ends up overseas so that I might eventually obtain hemp to make  purses and bags for my Etsy shop,  there is the incredible frustration with our federal laws.  As we know it is illegal to grow industrial hemp in the United States.  Industrial hemp is NOT marijuana.  Hemp is one of the most earth-friendly crops on the planet!  Legislators simply do not want to hear it.  When evidence is presented...another excuse for the ban is produced.  The latest one is that growers will sneak marijuana in their hemp fields and cause a drain on law enforcement. Since the two plants cannot grow together due to totally differing agricultural requirements and the marijuana would contaminate the hemp crop and ruin the production of fiber I fail to see the problem.

Is there a huge cotton lobby in this country?  Or in California, for that mattter?  California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) last Friday vetoed a bill that would have allowed California farmers to grow industrial hemp. Sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), Assembly Bill 1147 would have defined industrial hemp as an agricultural crop, limited its THC content to less than 0.3%, and mandated annual testing of fields to ensure content limits are met.
Hemp, from hippie to hip - Los Angeles Times
(courtesy Independent Media Center)
In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said the measure conflicted with federal law and would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor illicit marijuana crops. While he acknowledged recent successful court battles waged by the hemp industry, Schwarzenegger said "no court has specifically ruled that a live cannabis plant is a non-controlled substance or that farming these plants is not a regulated activity.

Schwarzenegger fell for the standard US police excuse that allowing hemp production would make it more difficult to stop outdoor marijuana grows: "Finally," he said, "California law enforcement has expressed concerns that implementation of this measure could place a drain on their resources and cause significant problems with drug enforcement activities. This is troubling given the needs in this state for the eradication and prevention of drug production."

Oddly enough, police in countries where hemp farming is a legal and productive part of the economy don't seem to have any problem distinguishing between industrial hemp and marijuana.  For the abstract of a paper by by David P. West, Ph.D. please follow this link.