Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hemp Bill Introduced In Congress

by Ryan Grim

Hemp FarmA bipartisan group of agitating members of Congress introduced legislation Thursday to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp.

Currently eight states -- Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia -- allow industrial hemp production or research, but federal law, which requires nearly-impossible-to-obtain-permits to grow hemp, trumps those state laws. The new bill would allow states to craft their own policy.

Hemp, a cousin of marijuana that can't get you stoned, is considered by the Drug Enforcement Administration to be a controlled substance because it kind of looks like pot. Synthetic fabric makers have long opposed hemp, which they see as competition.

The United States is the only nation that blocks its farmers from growing hemp, though hemp products are legal to import and to sell. Somebody would have to smoke several acres worth of hemp, which has negligible psychoactive properties, for that policy to make any sense.

But wild hemp continues to grow across the country. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan took the anti-hemp policy to its logical conclusion and ordered law enforcement to uproot wild hemp wherever it was found. It was a wild success: by 1989, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) estimated it uprooted 120 million of the plants that year, which it referred to in government reports as "ditchweed." In 2001, it eradicated half a billion such plants, though not even that total could get someone high. The war on ditchweed continues today, but the DEA has stopped its embarrassing habit of disclosing the total amount of useless plants it uproots.

The industrial hemp bill is being championed by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a powerful committee chairman and outspoken critic of the drug war, as well as Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a libertarian-leaning former presidential candidate suspicious of federal power. Nine other members, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's close ally, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), cosponsored the bill.

"Federal law is standing in the way of farmers in these states growing what may be a very profitable crop," said Paul when introducing the bill.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/03/hemp-bill-introduced-in-c_n_182880.html

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