Hemp Deserves A Growing Chance

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
A bill introduced in the House in February asks America to relax the restrictions on industrial hemp. Industrial hemp could be very profitable for farmers, and there is little reason to oppose this crop.

Hemp, also known as Cannabis sativa, is a close cousin of marijuana, so the plant has an expected amount of stigma attached to it. People incorrectly think that hemp is another version of marijuana, even though it's nearly impossible to get high from it because it has such minute levels of THC.

The hemp plant has thousands of practical uses. Manufacturers have used the plant's fiber to make clothes, rope and paper. Thomas Jefferson authored the U.S. Constitution on hemp paper. In Europe and Asia hemp is added to cement to increase its strength. Some have even found uses for hemp as a biofuel.

Unfortunately, the majority of industrial hemp growing occurs outside the United States - mostly in Asia, Europe and Canada - because opponents worry that if the plant were more widespread, hemp crops would be used to disguise marijuana plants, since the two are similar in appearance and odor.

Although the argument seems plausible, this is an overly paranoid approach toward hemp. Serious growers of industrial hemp wouldn't mix marijuana plants with hemp plants. When the two plants cross-pollinate, the marijuana plants dilute the fiber strength of hemp plants. By mixing the two, the farmer would risk making his entire field of hemp unusable and unprofitable.

Moreover, the government could ensure the integrity of industrial hemp by creating a small regulatory agency to police these crops; that agency could be funded entirely by taxes on industrial hemp.

By hanging onto this outdated approach toward hemp, we sit on a huge source of renewable products as other countries cash in on it. Fifteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation so far, and dozens of agricultural organizations support this move. It's time for our federal government to reconsider the restrictions on industrial hemp.

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Source: The Minnesota Daily
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Copyright: 2007 The Minnesota Daily
Website: Hemp deserves a growing chance - Minnesota Daily
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