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Hemp OK In Yolo County

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Thomas Jefferson grew it.

The Declaration of Independence was written on it.

Benjamin Franklin made paper from it and sold it.

Bill Clinton smoked it, but denied inhaling it.

And now Yolo County wants in on it.

It's hemp and recently the County Board of Supervisors authorized their support for a state Assembly bill that would permit certain counties to grow the marijuana-related fiber for industrial use.

The bill, AB 684, would authorize hemp cultivation within state supervised pilot programs in Butte, Imperial, Kings, Mendocino and Yolo counties.

Similar bills have been brought in the past decade but were met by vetoes by governors Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger respectively. AB 684 was passed by the Assembly and is presently being considered in the Senate.

Industrial hemp has been touted by advocates as an inexpensive and durable commodity that could add hundreds of millions of dollars to the U.S. economy.

According to a report produced by the Hemp Industries Association, hemp products generated $207 million in revenue in 2005 and is predicted to grow by $26 million annually.

Yolo county supervisors were briefed by Petrea Marchand, manager of intergovernmental affairs for the county, on the pros and cons of hemp cultivation, during the July 25 board meeting.

The upside, said Marchand, is a new and potentially profitable industry well suited for the county's agricultural landscape.

The downside is no farmer in Yolo County is going to grow it - at least for now.

"It is unlikely that any farmer will grow hemp any time in the near future," Marchand said at the meeting.

That is because of two major obstacles, Marchand said.

The first is there is no infrastructure, namely no processing plants, within the county to make hemp harvesting profitable.

The second problem: "To grow hemp you have to grow marijuana and that's a violation of federal law," said Garret Courtney, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Agency.

More specifically, hemp contains Tetrahydrocannabinol - known as THC - which is a schedule 1 controlled substance under federal drug law. The schedule 1 designation places the popular depressant within the same category as illicit drugs like crack and 420420420420420420420, which equates to strict federal control over its production.

Proponents of the proposed bill say it would only permit hemp to be grown under its provisions that have a THC level of less than .03 percent, far less than the average THC level found in drug-oriented marijuana.

The bill would also require hemp growers to submit samples of their crops to DEA sanctioned labs and report the GPS coordinates and acreage size of their plots.

Not good enough, Courtney said.

"The common argument that is out there is that industrial hemp has only a small percentage of THC. Well, that's like the difference between Mexican bud and BC bud," Courtney said.

Mexican marijuana is has relatively low contents of THC, while BC bud marijuana from Canada can harbor more than 20 times as much THC, Courtney said.

Either way, they get you high and, as a result, are illegal.

Besides, Courtney said, there is already a registration process in place for farmers to get certified through the DEA to grow hemp for industrial use.

"We don't legislate - we just operate," Courtney said. "There are practical uses for controlled substances and you can get certified by the DEA."

Despite the pending legal conflict, the board decided to support the bill.

"I see no reason not to support the bill," Supervisor Matt Rexroad said at the meeting, adding that he hadn't heard any opposition from the county's agricultural leaders. "Silence is consent as far as I am concerned."

Rick Landon, Yolo County's agricultural commissioner, said farmers probably would not take to growing hemp until the legal issues are settled.

"There has to be a test case," Landon said. "I don't think growers want to be the first ones to challenge federal law."

Landon said, however, there would be a viable market for hemp if it were legalized and the county could develop adequate infrastructure to grow it.

"There are a lot of products made from hemp. It's not just fiber-based products either. There are products like Shampoo and lotion that are made from hemp as well," Landon said.

Supervisor Helen Thomson, who supported the bill, said she has used hemp products before and thinks concerns regarding its cultivation are exaggerated.

"I tried the body lotion and I didn't get high," Thomson said. "Perhaps this is a niche market for some Yolo County farmers."

Supervisor Mike McGowan added, however, that hemp growing in Yolo county is not exactly a novel concept.

"I got news for you," McGowan said. "They're growing marijuana in Yolo County now."

News Hawk- User http://www.420Magazine.com
Source: The Daily Democrat
Author: Luke Gianni
Contact: lgianni@dailydemocrat.com
Copyright: The Daily Democrat
Website: Daily Democrat Online - Hemp OK in Yolo County
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