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Former CIA Director Woolsey Weaves Case For Legalizing Hemp

Herb Fellow

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Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey is scheduled to address a meeting today at the Canadian Consulate in Denver. But he won't speak about terrorism. Woolsey, who has served under former President Clinton and has been an adviser to President Bush, will hold court via telephone on another of his favorite topics: industrial hemp.

Commercial farming of hemp is banned in the United States for its apparent similarities to marijuana - a charge repudiated by hemp supporters. Developed regions such as Europe and Canada allow farmers to grow hemp for industrial purposes such as ropes or fabrics. The Canadian consulate in Denver supports the move to lift the ban.

Woolsey says hemp, if allowed in the U.S., could become a low-water-consuming and easy- to-grow feedstock for biofuels. Also, because of its biological properties, hemp could inhibit the growth of illegal marijuana through cross-pollination.

"Historically, the Drug Enforcement Administration has interpreted hemp to be in the marijuana band so as to include a ban on it," Woolsey said Monday during a phone interview with the Rocky. "In fact, what that is doing is undermining the single most effective way to cause trouble for marijuana."

"Hemp is so valuable, the last time I looked, it was many times more than the price of wheat and has industrial uses so substantial," added Woolsey, a self-described conservative Democrat who also serves on the board of the North American Industrial Hemp Council. "If you harvested hemp, you could use part of the plant for industrial purposes and the rest of the plant for cellulosic feed- stock for some type of biofuels."

Today's meeting is expected to draw about three dozen supporters of industrial hemp, including farmers and representatives from Colorado legislators. Most farmers' lobbies, including those in Colorado, support lifting the ban on industrial hemp. They hope to pass a resolution in the current legislative session, said Mike Bowman, chairman of the Colorado Industrial Hemp Initiative.

A pending bill in Congress, if approved, would give rights to states to regulate industrial hemp.

Source: Rocky Mountain News
Copyright: 2008, Rocky Mountain News
Contact: Gargi Chakrabarty, chakrabartyg@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-2976
Website: Former CIA Director Woolsey weaves case for legalizing hemp : Energy : The Rocky Mountain News
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