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Say Yes To Industrial Hemp

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Once again the state Legislature has passed a bill, Assembly Bill 684, authorizing California farmers to grow industrial hemp. Last year the governor vetoed a similar bill. This year he should sign it enthusiastically, for several reasons.

The least-important reason is that this year's version was modified to take into account law enforcement concerns. Thus hemp fields will have to be registered with their GPS locations and will be subject to state testing for THC levels. And the program is limited to four agricultural counties – Imperial, Kings, Mendocino and Yolo – and it has a "sunset" date, making it a pilot program instead of a statewide free-for-all.

The emotionally complicating factor, of course, is that hemp is another term for cannabis, which is the proper biological term for marijuana. Until a court decision last year, federal regulators interpreted marijuana prohibition to outlaw hemp production, despite the fact that hemp is grown commercially in China, Hungary, Ireland, Canada and elsewhere without serious complications.

But hemp grown for industrial purposes is grown differently than and is readily distinguishable from cannabis grown for the flowers and buds that contain significant quantities of THC and other intoxicants the government has decided people are not allowed to smoke. Hemp grown for fiber is planted close together, grows up to 16 feet tall and is typically harvested before any buds appear. So there's no real problem distinguishing a hemp field from an illicit marijuana patch.

Hemp is grown because, as researchers have been learning (and relearning) since the early 1980s, the plant is one of the most commercially useful crops around. Its fiber is among the strongest natural fibers known, and have been used for centuries to make cloth, paper, building materials and more.

It is absurd that California farmers are not allowed to grow this useful crop.

A couple of years ago the only Republican who endorsed this return to free enterprise was Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine, who was discerning enough to investigate the facts about hemp rather than basing his opinion strictly on emotion and habit. This year, seven Republicans supported a bill that is fully consistent with the principles of freedom of enterprise that most Republicans support.

Gov. Schwarzenegger has eloquently expressed recently the importance of being open to new ideas. There's no reason he shouldn't be open to this not all that new but very good idea.

News Hawk- User http://www.420Magazine.com
Source: The Orange County Register
Contact: The Orange County Register - Contact Us
Copyright: 2007 The Orange County Register
Website: Opinion: Say yes to industrial hemp - OCRegister.com
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