State Moving Toward Uncertain Future of Hemp

 State Moving Toward Uncertain Future of Hemp

Posted by FoM on September 29, 1999 at 21:27:27 PT
By Conrad deFiebre 
Source: Star Tribune 

Minnesota is moving ahead with efforts to allow its farmers to grow industrial hemp, a close cousin of marijuana that proponents say could offer an alternative crop with high potential.
Gov. Jesse Ventura is expected to write to federal drug authorities today outlining his plan for implementing pro-hemp state legislation enacted last spring.His plan, however, calls for cooperation from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which wields full authority over controlled substances and has strongly opposed reviving the U.S. hemp industry.Meanwhile, fierce debate continues over whether hemp offers enough commercial potential to justify the costly security controls likely to be imposed on its cultivation.Controls are in store because DEA officials and hemp enthusiasts agree on one thing: Food-and fiber-producing hemp and smokable marijuana are nearly indistinguishable varieties of the same Cannabis plant, differing only in their content of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).Ventura's letter is expected to propose that would-be hemp farmers apply for permits through the state Board of Pharmacy and the DEA. And rules for commercial hemp cultivation would be set by the DEA, which so far has had one simple rule: Don't do it."The policy has not been changed," Tim McCormick, head of the DEA's Minneapolis office, said Wednesday. "But we are seriously looking at it right now. The decision will be coming out of Washington." The decision could come in less than a year, he said.The government's review has been accelerated by growing interest in hemp production. Pro-hemp laws were enacted this year in Minnesota, Hawaii, Nebraska and North Dakota. North Dakota, in fact, is farther along the hemp trail than Minnesota, having reclassified hemp as an oilseed crop. It also has enacted provisions for growing and processing hemp.But even if the DEA allows hemp crops, it's unclear how profitable they may be. Some raise specters of the Jerusalem artichoke scam that ravaged rural Minnesota in the 1980s."There may well be zero market for this stuff," said Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver, who has consulted with state trade and agriculture officials to shape Ventura's hemp policy. "But we have an obligation to be helpful to those folks who are interested."Hemp seeds produce an oil that can be used to make tofu, butter, cheese, salad oils and other foods. Hemp fiber can be used to make clothing, ropes, paper, particle-board products and more.But even "Hemp John" Birrenbach, of St. Paul, an avowed marijuana advocate, said, "There are marketing and processing problems."In addition, mandatory security measures probably would cut deeply into producers' profits.McCormick said the DEA likely will require farmers to post bonds of up to $1,000 an acre to pay for government seizure and burning of hemp that crosses a THC threshold of about 0.3 percent. THC levels of .5 percent or greater are considered potent, he said. Hemp farmers also probably would have to pay license fees for criminal background checks and government inspections, he added.Thursday, September 30, 1999  Copyright 1999 Star Tribune. All rights reserved. Growing Pains - - 9/28/99 Minnesota's Ventura Signs Bill Backing Hemp Farms - 7/03/99

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Comment #2 posted by Chris Knestrick on September 30, 1999 at 06:25:53 PT:


As I recall, that's how they did it in 1937 - make it so there's so much tax and red tape fees that hemp then becomes unprofitable. That way the Warriors look like they've been reasonable (reasonable only for the tyrants they are) and the American people still lose (but feel good about it).
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