Hemp Farming Issue on Ballot

Hemp Farming Issue on Ballot
Posted by CN Staff on October 14, 2002 at 10:01:36 PT
By Elizabeth Pariseau
Source: Daily Hampshire Gazette 
Voters in the 2nd Franklin state representative district will consider a non-binding ballot question on Nov. 5 asking whether they would support the farming of industrial hemp, which advocates say would benefit both the economy and the environment. The effort to get the question on the ballot was led by Jason Burk, a University of Massachusetts plant and soil sciences major and a resident of Orange.
Burk, 26, says the growing of industrial hemp is a separate issue from the decriminalization of marijuana because the industrial form of cannabis contains 1 percent or less THC, the chemical that makes marijuana a mind-altering drug. Burk said advocacy for industrial hemp has interested him for years. "It's hard to sit back when I see something as blatantly obvious as this," Burk said. "It's just a plant. It's not psychoactive. How can it be illegal? It's like outlawing powdered sugar because it looks like cocaine." The language of the question, which residents of Athol, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Orange and Warwick will vote on Nov. 5, will emphasize industrial hemp's low THC: "Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow licensed farmers in Massachusetts to grow cannabis hemp (a crop containing 1 percent or less THC, the active ingredient in marijuana) for legitimate agricultural and industrial purposes?" Burk said he thought the question would poll well. "Most of the people in this district are farmers," he said. "They're educated about this." He also predicted that the legalization of the crop would benefit the local economy in rural Franklin County. "It'd save a lot of local farms," he said. Christopher Donelan, a former narcotics detective in Orange who is running unopposed for the 2nd Franklin District seat in the state House of Representatives, said he had not had time to thoroughly research the issue, but that he remains skeptical. "I haven't had the opportunity to see what (the question) looks like and to see the young man who proposed" it," Donelan said. "But I spent 15 years in law enforcement, seeing the effects drugs have on people, so I'm skeptical." When asked if a low percentage of THC on the plant would change his mind, Donelan said, "I certainly would want to take a look at that." According to a Web site hosted by the North American Industrial Hemp Council, most countries that grow hemp do so for industrial purposes because it is environmentally friendly and has widespread uses. Paper, rope and fabric for clothing can be made from the plant, according to the site. Oil from the seeds can be used to make cosmetics, paint, and a form of diesel fuel. Hemp products are also currently imported from other countries into the United States. "That's what doesn't make any sense," Burk said. "Even mature stock is legal to import." The crop has been effectively banned in the United States since the passage of the Marijuana Taxation Act of 1937, according to the Hemp Council web site. Though the ban was lifted for a short time during World War II to boost rope supplies, it was restored during the 1950s, and has remained in place ever since. Breaking that taboo would have tremendous benefits, according to Burk. "We can make strong building materials without toxic chemicals. We can make fine fabrics without the pesticides and herbicides we use on cotton crops. We can make finer quality paper without having to cut down all the forests on the planet. "It's time for a little Hemp 101," he said. Source: Daily Hampshire Gazette (MA)Author: Elizabeth PariseauPublished: Monday, October 14, 2002Copyright: 2002 Daily Hampshire GazetteContact: opinion gazettenet.comWebsite: Hemp Archives
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on October 14, 2002 at 13:12:30 PT:
Michigan Has a Lot of Farmers.
Getting any ideas? Kick out the jams, brothers and sisters.Hemp for peace and the environment.
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