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Scientist Recommends Local Hemp Industry


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Northern Rivers farmers struggling with dry conditions could consider hemp crops as a farming alternative, says Dr Keith Bolton, a scientist who has been trialling the crop in the region.

Dr Bolton has been trialling industrial hemp crops on the North Coast since 2001 and says the results indicate the crop has commercial potential. But he says government red tape is preventing a potential hemp industry from developing.

He says that while it is illegal to grow in New South Wales, it is legal in some other states who recognise the industrial variety is very low in the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) - the "high" producing chemical that is present in cannabis plants grown for illegal drug use.

"Let's say, it's 100th the concentration of high-THC varieties."

Dr Bolton says he developed an interest in the crop while investigating biological solutions to getting effluent out of rivers and waterways.

"I was looking for fast-growing 'mop crops' and hemp came up as a candidate...so I've been irrigating hemp crops with effluent for the past few years, looking at how much water and nutrients it takes up, and it's actually a very effective 'mop crop'."

"Hemp has been grown by humans for around 10,000 years...in the last 70-odd years, we've had this thing called 'prohibition'...I don't think that's appropriate...it's an incredibly useful plant," Dr Bolton said.

Industrial hemp has a widespread use, including bricks made from the plant's fibres mixed with lime, ropes, clothing and as food.

Newshawk: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: ABC North Coast NSW (Australia)
Author: Jacqui Peake
Copyright: 2007 ABC
Website: ABC Online
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