HR-1866


November 15, 2009 – Here’s an update on some of the more significant legislation moving (or not) on the Hill.
congress
Medical Marijuana

Late last month, Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) reintroduced H.R. 3939, the Truth in Trials Act, which would allow defendants in federal medical marijuana prosecutions to use medical evidence in their defense — a right they do not have under current federal law. The bill currently has 28 cosponsors and has been endorsed by more than three dozen advocacy, health, and civil liberties organizations. It is before the House Judiciary Committee.

That isn’t the only medical marijuana bill pending. In June, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the Medical Marijuana Protection Act, which would reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug and eliminate federal authority to prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. The measure has 29 cosponsors and has been sitting in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce ever since. Frank introduced similar legislation in the last two Congresses, but the bills never got a committee vote or even a hearing. Advocates hoped that with a Democratically-controlled Congress and a president who has at least given lip service to medical marijuana, Congress this year would prove to be friendlier ground, but that hasn’t proven to be the case so far.

In July, the House passed the District of Columbia appropriations bill and in so doing removed an 11-year-old amendment barring the District from implementing the medical marijuana law approved by voters in 1998. Known as the Barr amendment after then Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), the amendment has been attacked by both medical marijuana and DC home rule advocates for years as an unconscionable intrusion into District affairs. The Senate has yet to act. Among the proponents for removing the Barr amendment: Bob Barr.

Marijuana Decriminalization

In June, Reps. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the Personal Use of Marijuana By Responsible Adults Act, which would remove federal criminal penalties for the possession of less than 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) and for the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce. The bill would not change marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance, would not change federal laws banning the growing, sale, and import and export of marijuana, and would not undo state laws prohibiting marijuana. It currently has nine cosponsors and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

And just so you don’t get the mistaken idea that the era of drug war zealotry on the Hill is completely in the past, there is Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL). In June, Kirk introduced the High Potency Marijuana Sentencing Enhancement Act, which would increase penalties for marijuana offenses if the THC level is above 15%. Taking a page from the British tabloids, Kirk complained that high-potency “Kush” was turning his suburban Chicago constituents into “zombies.” Nearly six months later, Kirk’s bill has exactly zero cosponsors and has been sent to die in the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

Industrial Hemp

Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) again introduced an industrial hemp bill this year. HR 1866, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 would remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp. They were joined by a bipartisan group of nine cosponsors, a number which has since grown to 18. The bill was referred to the House Energy and Commerce and House Judiciary committees upon introduction. Six weeks later, Judiciary referred it to its Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, where it has languished ever since. Source.

Advertisements

Sign the Petition:
To: The President of the United States, The U.S. Senate and The U.S. House
H.R. 1866 is perhaps the most straight-forward Act currently in Congress and deserves the support of all Americans. It would reflect science, by making a clear distinction between hemp and marijuana; and also grant each state the power to regulate hemp cultivation within their borders. We the People of the United States of America must not allow Congress to continue preventing our farmers from cultivating this crop that help can heal our environment and stimulate the expansion of the green economy like nothing else out there.

October 21, 2009 – In New Zealand, the tiny political party Aotearoa HempLegalise Cannabis Party (ALCP) promotes a platform that it says can “reverse” damaging climate change by planting hundreds of thousands of hectares of cannabis hemp, ALCP says, at a density of around 300 plants per square meter, to replace NZ’s energy and fuel needs.

Yes, it sounds far-fetched, especially since in the US farmers have labored long and hard to get lawmakers to stop confusing non-cannabis industrial hemp grown for its myriad uses in industrial fibers and foods with its cannabis cousin.

Longtime hemp activist Jack Herer is offering $100,00 to anyone who can disprove his hypothesis that hemp is a silver bullet for climate change. Here’s Herer:

“If all fossil fuels and their derivatives, as well as trees for paper and construction, were banned in order to save the planet, reverse the Greenhouse Effect and stop deforestation, then there is only one known annually renewable natural resource that is capable of providing the overall majority of the world’s paper and textiles; meet all of the world’s transportation, industrial and home energy needs, while simultaneously reducing pollution, rebuilding the soil and cleaning the atmosphere all at the same time. That substance is the same one that has done it before: Cannabis Hemp.”

Anyone who can prove this statement wrong is entitled to $US 100,000. http://www.jackherer.com/challenge.html

Herer’s mixing of cannabis hemp with industrial hemp is a little unfortunate, for according to Hemp Global Solutions, hemp could be a good short term climate tool, because the crop is rapid-growing for carbon dioxide uptake, less vulnerable to climate variations than agro-forestry, and might be a good cash crop for farmers. HGS calculates each ton of hemp grown represents 1.63 tons of CO2 absorption.

Whether in the U.S. the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 can come to a vote during this session is uncertain. But Jack Herer isn’t the only person to espouse hemp. Dr. Bronner’s president, David Bronner, is among a small group of hemp farmers hoping to get more coverage for the bill.

Eight states (including Oregon as the most recent) have allowed industrial (non cannabis) hemp research or production, but thus far implementation has been hampered by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Bronner, whose company has used hemp oil in its products for over a decade, was arrested in Washington, DC last week for planting hemp on the DEA front lawn. He said he’d rather buy his hemp from U.S. farmers instead of importing it, and “save on both import and freight charges.”

Source.

August 6, 2009 – Quick: What single plant can you use to build, insulate, and heat a house; help build and run cars; turn into the finest textiles; use to make tortillas, cheese, veggie burgers, perfumes, skin creams, and suntan lotions – and also to get stoned?feat_2

The answer is none. But if you leave out the stoned part, you’re talking about hemp, the non-smokable variety of cannabis sativa, botanical cousin of the cannabis that gets you high. It’s currently grown legally in 30 industrial nations, has a history that dates back to the earliest days of man, was touted by George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, was probably used to make the first American flag, and – if given the chance – might help bring Texas farmers out of troubled times.

Unfortunately, industrial hemp’s association with pot has made it illegal to produce here in the United States for the last seven decades, forcing U.S. manufacturers to import it from China, Eastern Europe, and Canada. For a while during the 1990s it was illegal to import it any form but finished textiles. And even that was suspect under Bill Clinton’s drug czar, retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who, in trying to ban hemp importation, once famously announced to a group of high-ranking Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs officials that “kids are boiling down their hemp shirts and mixing the essence with alcohol to make marijuana.”

That would be a pretty wacky comment coming from anyone, but to have national policy hinge on such impossible wrong-headedness set back hemp’s future in this country a long way.

Nobody’s using that rhetoric now, but the unease persists in many places, including at the Texas Farm Bureau. Spokesman Gene Hall told Fort Worth Weekly that while “hemp has Picture 6come up as a possible agricultural crop for Texas, it’s been a controversial subject.” Hall said that neither the Texas Farm Bureau, a nonprofit organization of farmers, ranchers, and rural families, nor the National Farm Bureau have supported industrial hemp as an ag crop “because there are concerns with the farm bureau supporting the raising of a crop that could be used for illicit drug use.”

But times are changing, even in Texas, and not everyone sees it the way Hall and the Farm Bureau do. This week, Oregon became the 16th state to pass some form of industrial hemp legislation, in hopes of making it possible for farmers to grow, own, and sell the nonsmokable but otherwise highly useful forms of hemp, the kinds with very low quantities of THC, the chemical in pot that gets you high.

State laws can’t trump the federal statute, which currently lists cannabis sativa as a controlled substance and prevent its cultivation. But U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Libertarian-leaning Republican from Lake Jackson, Texas, is trying to change that. He’s filed a bill to require the federal government to respect state laws on industrial hemp production. Paul has tried and failed at this before, and even he thinks the bill isn’t likely to pass this time either. But he’s gaining some support among his fellow House members and hoping for a friendlier attitude in the White House.

Individually, there are plenty of Texas farmers who are happy to hear about a potential new cash crop.

“If you tell me that there is a crop out there that could earn $400 an acre” – which is what Canadian farmers can earn with hemp – “well, I would have no problem growing it,” said Ralph Snyder, a farmer in North Central Texas. “Farmers would be lined up to grow it.”

Dan Brown, a North Texas leader of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), figures hemp could thrive easily in Texas. “Remember that it’s one of the fastest, most aggressive- growing biomasses in the world,” he said. “It isn’t called a weed for nothing.”

Hemp wasn’t always a banned crop. In colonial America its cultivation was mandated by British law. Back then it was used to make ropes and sails for ships, in fine art canvas, in paint and varnishes, as lamp oil, to make paper, and in some foods.

But the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that effectively outlawed smoking cannabis also essentially outlawed industrial hemp. The act was passed after publisher William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers waged a protracted and vociferous campaign against “marijuana” – a term he introduced to the American public. He ran stories that suggested that white women who smoked it couldn’t resist the lure of “negroes,” that it would bring out the devil in people and could cause otherwise normal people to become violent to the point of murder. Hollywood jumped on the campaign, releasing films such as Reefer Madness and Marijuana, Assassin of Youth, which showed previously virtuous young women jumping out of windows and becoming prostitutes after their first exposure to the evil weed.

Some saw Hearst’s campaign as a disguise for his real purpose – the elimination of industrial hemp, which was just coming into its own as a major modern crop, thanks to new machinery that allowed the hemp to be harvested and cleaned mechanically, rather than by hand. In 1933, Popular Mechanics magazine called industrial hemp “a billion-dollar crop” and suggested that with mechanization it would be used in making more than 25,000 products, including plastics, nylon, and paper.Picture 8

At about the same time, Hearst had invested in millions of acres of trees for paper pulp, and Dupont, the chemical company, had just received patents for making nylon from coal and plastic from oil. Competition from hemp products might have cost both Hearst and Dupont genuine fortunes. According to Industrial Hemp Now, an organization working to legalize hemp, “As a model of deception and orchestrated media manipulation, the anti-hemp crusade constitutes one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetuated on the American people. Few public relations campaigns in history can match its success in eradicating competition while transforming citizens into unknowing pawns of big business.” Those claims have been echoed by dozens of others.

World War II changed the federal attitude temporarily. Cut off from vital natural-fiber supplies by the war, the federal government was forced to ask farmers to grow hemp to aid the war effort, even producing the film Hemp For Victory. Afterward, it was back to hemp-is-banned business as usual – except for the millions of leftover wild hemp plants that still grow along roads and highways throughout the Midwest and are the focus of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s “marijuana” eradication efforts, despite the fact that none of the plants have the ability to get anyone high.

In 1970, the newly created DEA developed the Controlled Substances Schedule, which placed drugs in categories according to their medical value and propensity for being abused. Morphine and cocaine, for instance, are in Schedule 2 because they have medical value but are highly likely to be abused. Cannabis, including industrial hemp, was placed in Schedule 1, meaning it has no recognized medical value and is highly likely to be abused. It can’t, under any circumstances, be prescribed by doctors.

The DEA later made an exception for industrial hemp, but those wishing to grow it must have a DEA license. In the past 20 years they’ve given out only a small handful of permits, and the restrictions – including round-the-clock guards on trial plots, exorbitantly expensive fencing, and regular inspections at the licensee’s expense – make it impossible to actually grow anything profitably. Most farmers who have applied for a permit never even receive a response.

Some industrial hemp promoters see a glimmer of hope with the Obama administration in place. “Little birdies have told me that Obama is going to treat hemp as a state’s right, just as his administration is doing with medical marijuana,” said a hemp product manufacturer who asked not to be named. “And if that’s the case, then it’s ‘all systems go’ in a number of states.”

The Obama administration has made enforcement of laws against the medical uses of marijuana the lowest priority for the Department of Justice in states that have passed legislation allowing such use. Farmers in states with laws permitting industrial hemp production are hoping he’ll do at least that much for them. Still, until federal law is changed, farmers are going to be wary about turning over land to a crop that might get pulled out from under them.

Ron Paul, the Houston-area congressman, introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in April, which would require the federal government to respect state laws with regards to hemp production. The bill has 11 co-sponsors.

In introducing the proposal, he noted, “Federal law concedes the safety of industrial hemp by allowing it to be legally imported for use as food.” He also said that the United States is the “only industrialized nation that prohibits industrial hemp cultivation.” Stores in this country already sell hemp seeds, oil, and food products, he pointed out, as well as paper, cloth, cosmetics, and carpet containing hemp. It has been used as an alternative fuel for cars, he said, and, most recently, in the door frames of about 1.5 million cars.

Paul said Tuesday that he holds out little hope for his bill. “If we could bring it to the floor and discuss it and teach people what it is, well, I think it would be passed overwhelmingly,” he said. “But right now, unfortunately, you still have a lot of people who think it’s a drug. And as long as they’re that uninformed, they’re not going to see the real issue.”

Creating a viable hemp industry in this country would take more than legislation, of course. Public awareness of, and demand for, hemp products would have to grow considerably before enough quantities would be needed to make it a profitable crop for large numbers of farmers.

When his country began allowing the production of industrial hemp 10 years ago, said Canadian crop specialist Harry Brook, farmers initially misjudged the market and overproduced. “Our farmers began growing hemp for fiber, and unfortunately, we didn’t have the facilities in place to convert that to paper and textiles and such, and so essentially it was a bust.”Picture 9

But the farmers switched to growing it for seed, used to make oil and food products. “Now that’s where they found a market,” Brook said. “And now there’s talk about reviving the fiber industry because [hemp] grows so fast and tall and produces so much fiber. But that simply won’t get off the ground until someone decides to make the investment in the factories that can utilize it.”

In ideal conditions, he said, hemp can produce about 5 tons of dried biomass per acre in 100 days – considerably more than any other crop. And with its varied uses, its potential is unlimited.

Gordon Scheifele is a retired certified plant breeder with the Canadian Ministry of Agriculture who is currently researching hemp. The stumbling block right now, he said, is that there isn’t a single commercial processor in North America that can produce the fibers in sufficient quantities to sustain various industries.

“We know we can produce it in Canada. We already are [doing so],” he said. “But the next step requires vision, will, determination, and effort. That includes the capital to make it all go.”

In this country, groups such as Hemp Industries of America and VoteHemp.org estimate the current annual sales of hemp products in 2008 totalled about $360 million. Designers such as Donatella Versace, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein have produced everything from hemp-and-cotton-blend jersey knits to hemp-and-silk-blend clothing. Wal-Mart carries a line of hemp suntan lotion and skin creams; Whole Foods and Central Market carry several products from hemp bread and granola to frozen desserts. The Body Shop carries a line of skin-care products.

In San Marcos, Hemp Town Rock – The Hemp Store, has been operating since 1992. And near McKinney, DiaperCo.com sells a line of hemp diapers. But it’s all still just a drop in the bucket compared to what would happen if the crop were legalized.

“What’s being sold now and what can be sold when American farmers are given the green light to produce hemp are worlds apart,” said Oregon State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, who introduced that state’s industrial hemp bill. “We’ve got a hemp food company in Portland, Living Harvest, that currently has $20 million in annual revenues, but they project that in five years they will have revenues of over $100 million annually. That’s exponential growth. And imagine what it could be if they could get their raw products closer to their production sites instead of having to import their seed and oil from Canada? If you bring your prices down, and you’ve got a good product, well, sales climb.

“We’re at a stage now where a lot of the American public recognizes that we were hoodwinked by the DEA and others into demonizing industrial hemp,” he said.

Lawrence Serbin, former national director for the Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp and owner of Hemp Traders, a Los Angeles-based company, said this country is “really in a Catch-22” regarding hemp. “The reality is that hemp won’t become more popular in the U.S. until the price goes down, and the price won’t go down until it gets more popular. And the only way to make that price go down is to have us produce our own hemp.”

Serbin’s company sells a range of hemp products, from textiles to paper, but what he’s really concentrating on is fiberboard, which he makes from the hurds, the inner woody part of the hemp stalk left after the fiber has been removed. Typically, hurds are burned or left on the ground as mulch after harvest. He has to go to China to get them.

Beginning in 1999, he said, “We came in and collected the hurds and brought them to a factory and had them make up some medium-density fiberboards with it.” It’s taken him several years to come up with the product he’s just put on the market, a hemp fiberboard bound with a product derived from eucalyptus bark.

The advantage to his fiberboard, he said, is that it’s made without wood pulp and doesn’t use formaldehyde, a standard, inexpensive binder that is carcinogenic. The disadvantage is the price: His half-inch-thick, 4′-by-8′ boards go for about $28, nearly double what similar wood composite and particle boards go for in places like the Home Depot. His primary cost, he said, is transportation. The factory in China where part of the manufacturing takes place is far away from where the hemp is grown. And both hurds and boards are bulky, increasing the transit costs.

He hopes to solve part of the problem by building a factory next to the hemp fields in China, which he said could make his fiberboards “instantly competitive with regular wood boards.” If he could get the hurds from U.S. farmers, he said, he could sell his boards far more cheaply than what’s currently on the market.

Hemp boards, he said, could have “a huge impact on the housing market here in the U.S. … The effect on our forests would be immediate; new home prices would drop, and your house wouldn’t be full of formaldehyde.” He too is hoping that the Obama administration will tell federal law enforcement agencies to “leave it [hemp enforcement] to the states and then leave the states alone.”

Dave Seber, owner of Oregon’s Fibre Alternatives, believes industrial hemp is a “critical component” in saving both the economy and the environment in the United States.

“How are we going to stop carbon accumulation if we keep taking the trees down?” he asked. “We can’t, unless we grow hemp.” Hemp products, he said, could reduce the cost of building materials by 30 to 50 percent. “And that’s what we need to get the building industry, and therefore the economy, back on its feet.” He believes hemp could be used for furniture-quality boards. And he’s seen it used in Europe as a base for concrete, as a replacement for fiberglass insulation, and for plastics for everything from countertops to car parts.

Many countries in the European Union have begun levying fines on automakers and car sellers if their vehicles are not made of recyclable materials. That led European car Picture 10manufacturers to begin replacing traditional plastic parts with parts made from hemp, flax, and other natural fibers. In 2007 Lotus introduced its Hemp Eco Elise, a high-end car with a body largely made from hemp fiberglass and seats and other interior parts made largely from hemp/wool/flax materials.

“You’ve got to look at the big picture,” Seber said. “The food and textile industries, as well as paper and such, can definitely benefit from hemp products … but I think you have to look at the major industries if you really want to make the environmental and economic changes that this country and the whole world desperately need. Those are the housing industry, the biofuel industries, the plastics industries, and the automobile industries.”

Thus far, however, that potential revolution is passing Texas by.

Calls to a dozen legislators and agricultural committee members around Texas produced very little feedback and even less knowledge about hemp-based industries. A spokesman for State Rep. Charles Anderson of Waco, vice-chair of the Texas House Agriculture and Livestock Committee, said he’d never heard the issue discussed. The Texas Agricultural Policy Council didn’t respond to e-mail queries. Brian Black, assistant to the commissioner for the Texas Department of Agriculture, said, “I’ve not heard of any discussion of industrial hemp in the agriculture industry in Texas.” Calls to the office of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who sits on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry – three areas that would be affected by hemp production – were not returned.

Even a member of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, who asked not to be named, laughed at the notion of hemp being grown in Texas. “We can’t even get Texas interested in organic food research, so I doubt very much you’re going to find many politicians in Texas willing to discuss hemp research. That’s just not how people think here.”

Right now, there seems to be only one real hemp store left in Texas, out of the healthy crop that flourished here in hippier-dippier times. Rose Phillips’ Hemp Town Rock is still going strong. When she opened the store in 1992, Phillips said, she sold only products made from hemp – clothing, food, paper, twines, and such.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “I’ve had to add other products over the years because hemp is just plain expensive, what with all of it having to be imported. Now if we could grow it here, that would be different. You bring the price down, and everybody would buy hemp because it’s such a nice material and so durable. But as it is, well, with the economy down, except for Christmastime I don’t put out a lot of my better hemp clothes.”

She still carries hemp purses, wallets, t-shirts, and other products but admits they aren’t enough by themselves to keep her in business.

“There’s a big market” for hemp products,” she said. “But most people would rather just order it from a web page that can sell it cheaper than I can, what with store overhead. And then every major chain store carries some hemp products, so a store like mine isn’t the only place to get those things anymore.”

One of the local online stores that sells a lot of hemp products is DiaperCo.com. Based in Anna, just north of McKinney, the cloth diaper company has nearly 50 hemp-blend products for sale. Jessica Land, a DiaperCo manager, said the products sell well. “A lot of what we sell are hemp inserts – hemp cloth that goes inside pouches in the diaper. And everybody loves them because the hemp is so absorbent.”

Her client base is interested in environmentally friendly, natural products that are reusable, she said. “And what fits that description better than hemp?”

Has she ever had any clients decide not to buy hemp because of its connection with marijuana? She laughed. “I’ve never heard anyone say that, but our client base is pretty well informed,” she said. “I imagine there would be some people who would think that, though.”

Even if federal law were changed to allow unimpeded hemp production, Scheifele said he’s not sure whether Texas would be a prime growing area.

“Hemp requires moisture. The rule of thumb is that wherever you can grow corn you can grow good hemp,” he said. (Texas now ranks 12th among U.S. states in corn production.) Hemp is drought resistant, though, and winter crops probably would work here, Scheifele said. Beyond that, if it became a legal crop, he said, researchers would develop strains adaptable to a wide variety of conditions. In Australia, he said, scientists report they have developed a more drought-tolerant variety.

Don Wirtshafter, a lawyer and pioneer in the hemp movement who spent years researching hemp varieties in southeast Asia, said he thinks he’s already got seed stock that would work well in much of Texas without irrigation. His stock, brought over from Asia some years ago, is being kept alive in Canada, waiting a change in hemp’s legal status in this country, before he can try test plots all over the state.

He pointed out that in China, hemp is relegated to poorer-quality farmland. “If you’re growing for seed, you definitely need good nutrition, good soil,” he said. “But if you’re growing for fiber you can grow it almost anywhere.”

Wirtshafter called it an “agricultural tragedy” that thousands of varieties of hemp seed were lost when laws outlawing hemp cultivation were passed in this country and copied by much of the world.

Brown, the assistant director of the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of NORML, said that growing industrial hemp in Texas is a no-brainer. “Look at East Texas. There’s plenty of moisture there. It’s ideally suited for hemp cultivation. But with some irrigation you could grow hemp anywhere in the state.”

He pointed to the arid landscape of northern Mexico, home to tens of thousands of acres of low-grade marijuana. “If you can grow marijuana in those near-desert conditions, you could certainly grow hemp in southern Texas,” he said. “And with the ethanol craze going on and our focus on growing our own fuel stocks, it would be entirely possible to grow industrial hemp in quantities to replace American dependence on foreign oil. Hemp produces more than twice the biomass per acre that corn does, so it would be a natural for fuel, and we could grow a lot of it on land not currently utilized for agriculture, rather than using good soil to grow corn for ethanol.”

In fact, he said, traditionally independent Texas farmers could come to see hemp-growing as a right they’re being denied. “Texans don’t like their personal rights abridged,” he said. “And once they understand the difference between marijuana and industrial hemp, your average Texas farmer would probably demand the right to grow it.

Daniel Leshiker, who farms near Ralph Snyder in North Central Texas, agreed with Snyder that hemp sounds intriguing.

“We already need another crop, that’s for certain. I just planted 200 acres of sunflowers for their seed for the first time,” he said. “So while I don’t know much about hemp except they used to make rope with it, well, you tell me I could make money with it, and I’ll grow it. That’s what we are in the business to do.” By PETER GORMAN. Source.

July 10, 2009 – For reasons I do not fully understand, Americans seem to have lost the common sense that has always been a hallmark of our culture, as once again we seem to be routinely shooting ourselves in the Hempfoot by adopting public policies that run counter to our own best interests. A good example is allowing the so-called War on Drugs to outlaw the use of hemp, one of the most beneficial crops in the history of the world, by burdening it with unnecessary and restrictive regulation in the name of fighting the War.

Hemp is a harmless plant that is the source of an almost endless list of benefits. Wikipedia notes that it can be used in everything from food products to clothes as well as having multiple industrial or commercial uses, such as “paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food and fuel.”

China, France and Canada are all major producers of hemp and, although more hemp is exported to the U.S. than to any other country, our government generally does not distinguish between marijuana and a type of hemp that is used only for industrial and commercial purposes.
The North American Industrial Hemp Council, Inc. (NAIHC) notes, “The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies all C. sativa varieties (of hemp) as ‘marijuana.’ While it is theoretically possible to get permission from the government to grow hemp, DEA would require that the field be secured by a fence, razor wire, dogs, guards and lights, making it cost-prohibitive.”
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 “placed an extremely high tax on marijuana and made it effectively impossible to grow industrial hemp…(and) the Federal Bureau of Narcotics lumped industrial hemp with marijuana, as its successor, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, does to this day.” As Groucho Marx famously remarked “Those are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others.”

Other facts about hemp offered by NAIHC include:
“Hemp has been grown for at least the last 12,000 years for fiber (textiles and paper) and food.”
“Much of the bird seed sold in the US has hemp seed (it’s sterilized before importation), the hulls of which contain about 25% protein.”
“Rudolph Diesel designed his engine to run on hemp oil.”
“Construction products such as medium density fiber board, oriented strand board, and even beams, studs and posts could be made out of hemp. Because of hemp’s long fibers, the products will be stronger and/or lighter than those made from wood.”
Over 25,000 products can be made from hemp.
“To receive a standard psychoactive dose (of hemp) would require a person so power-smoke 10-12 hemp cigarettes over an extremely short period of time. The large volume and high temperature of vapor, gas and smoke would be almost impossible for a person to withstand.”
“Hemp fibers are longer, stronger, more absorbent and more mildew-resistant than cotton.”
“Fabrics made of at least one-half hemp block the sun’s UV rays more effectively than other fabrics.”
“Hemp can be made into a variety of fabrics, including linen quality.”
“Hemp grows well in a variety of climates and soil types. It is naturally resistant to most pests, precluding the need for pesticides. It grows tightly spaced, out-competing any weeds, so herbicides are not necessary. It also leaves a weed-free field for a following crop.”
“Hemp can yield 3-8 tons of fiber per acre. This is four times what an average forest can yield.”
The bottom line is that by treating hemp as a drug, the United States has effectively shut down one of the most profitable and useful crops in history and once again essentially abandoned the market to other nations that have a more realistic attitude.
We are preventing our farmers from growing a crop that has almost unlimited uses. It’s cheap and easy to plant and cultivate, and could potentially rejuvenate the small farming industry in America. While spending billions of dollars in what has been an almost fruitless effort to keep small farmers on the farm, we have also been unwilling to simply let them to do it for themselves by allowing them to cultivate one of the best cash crops they could possibly grow.
By stubbornly refusing to change or adapt our thinking, we are once again abandoning a major market to our competition by preventing one of our own industries from producing an important product. As the King of Siam said in Oscar Hammerstein’s musical, The King and I, “It’s a puzzlement.”

By Harris R. Sherline. Source.

July 03, 2009-It is our patriotic duty to honor our Founding Heroes, America’s greatest hemp growers. 365387

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison—virtually all Revolutionary Americans who had access to land—embraced hemp’s critical role in our early economy.

Accordingly, they raised it in mass quantities.

We must now honor them by demanding its immediate legalization, to save our economy and our ecology.

For rope, for paper, for clothing, for food, for fuel, this miracle plant has been a critical crop for cash and survival for 6,000 years, since the onset of ancient China.

Today it is a multi-billion-dollar product there and in Germany and Canada, among other major economies.

There is no rational reason for hemp to be illegal. Some law enforcement “experts” say it resembles marijuana, and therefore must be banned.

What are they smoking? Certainly not hemp, which gives its imbibers little more than a splitting headache and a nasty cough.

Today, marijuana is the largest cash crop in many states and regions of the United States. A billion dollars-worth of it was purchased under medical auspices last year in California alone. Properly taxed, its users freed from our overcrowded prisons, pot’s legalization could offer a giant step out of our financial morass.

But as an agricultural staple, marijuana pales alongside hemp. This miracle weed returns on its own year after year, requiring no pesticides, herbicides or special fertilizers. It is hardy, fast-growing and supremely productive.

A single hemp plant can provide the basis for very high-quality rope, sails for ships, cloth for clothing, paper for documents, seeds for food and oil, the cellulosic base for ethanol, and much more. It is the feed of choice for untold numbers of birds and land animals. It can be the basis for innumerable stressed eco-systems where it survives and thrives with virtually no human input.

As a staple spread across the Great Plains and through the rest of America’s battered farmland, it could help restore our shattered crop base and our devastated rural economy.

Presidents Washington and Jefferson—both of them extremely advanced agronomists—cataloged their techniques for growing hemp at great length. They would simply not comprehend the concept—let alone the reality—that hemp might be illegal.

Early drafts of both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written on sturdy paper made of hemp.

Now, more than ever, we need the essence of both the documents and the crop.

Save Our Planet! Stimulate Our Economy!!

Honor our Founders!!! Be a Patriot!!!! Legalize Hemp Now!!!!!

By “Thomas Paine” Source.

June 24, 2009 – THE time is now to utilize the untapped, renewable resource of hemp. Food, clothing, shelter and fuel are products of this historically tried and true plant.hemp01

THE time is now to utilize the untapped, renewable resource of hemp. Food, clothing, shelter and fuel are products of this historically tried and true plant.

Until now, ignorance has lumped hemp and marijuana together as a Schedule 1 narcotic, in the same category as heroin and cocaine.

But legislation is moving through Congress in the form of H.R. 1866, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009.” It would exclude industrial hemp from the Schedule 1 list, making it legal for American farmers to once again grow the crop that was essential in the empowerment of our original 13 colonies and the early United States.

What is the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana? The major difference is the level of THC, the psychoactive molecule that induces the “high” associated with quality marijuana. From flowers that aren’t allowed to pollinate, this substance swells into resinous buds that are used for the “marijuana effect.”

Industrial hemp is allowed to pollinate, blessing humanity with one of the healthiest, handiest and tastiest oils known, hempseed oil. Therefore, hemp strains are selected for high seed production, not to get people “high.”

Another major difference between hemp and marijuana is that industrial hemp (fiber) strains are grown in compact plots (four inches between stalks), so the plant reaches tall, not spreading wide, in contrast with marijuana plants. This is done to maximize vertical fiber production for many useful products – and doesn’t produce THC buds.

You may ask why the United States is the only major industrial power not utilizing the vast potential of hemp. In a nutshell, even though Henry Ford envisioned a car “grown [and fueled] from the ground up” by hemp, certain interests in the 1920s and ’30s thought that our nation should be powered with finite petroleum. This shortsightedness has propelled America into our modern-day energy challenge.

Fortunately, the veil of ignorance is lifting, so we, a renewed group of consciously aware West Virginia citizens, can lead the charge for hemp education and empowerment.

The year 2002 marked monumental legislation on the state level – SB 447, the “Industrial Hemp Development Act” was signed into West Virginia law. We Mountaineers are one of only eight states that have hemp farming legislation in place. We are ahead of the curve, proving that our legislators are knowledgeable on the subject and supportive of this visionary shift.

I urge dedicated citizens to pick up pens and push federal passage of H.R. 1866, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009. This could enable our state and nation to again use what Popular Science magazine in 1938 called “the next billon-dollar crop.”

Look up something on industrial hemp, either at the public library on the Internet. You will be surprised to learn it can be used for auto bodies and interiors, ethanol fuel, internal lubricants, garments as rugged as denim or smooth as silk, particle board, strong newsprint, gentle inks, insulation, paint, plastic, varnish, soap, mulch, animal feed, birdseed, granola, protein-rich flour, salad oil, and nutritional supplements – all biodegradable.

By Patrick Corcoran. Source.

Next Page »