June 2nd, 2009 – A recent letter writer errs when he says that “hemp is not a tree and could not possibly replace timber products.” (“Our hemp laws are contradictory,” May 20.) Hemp produces four times as much paper per acre as trees do. Hemp makes better paper and does not cause the environmental damage that making paper from trees does. Many Bibles are printed on strong, durable hemp paper.

Besides paper, hemp can be used to make more than 50,000 industrial products, ranging from biodegradable plastics and fabrics to paints, inks and varnishes, not to mention high quality food oils and protein.

Hemp is also a valuable source of renewable energy, producing over 1,200 gallons of methanol per acre per season (compared to 250 gallons for corn). Considering the importance of cheap energy to the American economy (witness the Iraqi conflict) it is utterly insane to continue a prohibition on marijuana-hemp that can provide biomass energy in the form of methane, methanol or high-octane, lead-free gasoline (using a catalytic process developed by Georgia Tech University in conjunction with Mobil Oil Corp.).

There are billions of dollars to be made farming hemp for industrial purposes. Outlawing hemp is a disservice to the nation’s farmers and to the environment.