Hemp Experimentation Could Discover Benefits

Hemp Experimentation Could Discover Benefits
Posted by FoM on January 25, 2000 at 21:34:15 PT
Editorial Opinions
Source: Capital Press
The poor, little, defenseless hemp plant provides an easy gauge for measuring urban America's loss of touch with its agrarian roots.If the enforcers of our drug laws and their counterparts in prosecutors' offices knew just a little more about farming, they would understand better what the hemp controversy is about.
And in that case, it wouldn't be a controversy at all. Hemp isn't about drugs. It's about rope. It's also about a potentially profitable crop that would be compatible with other farming operations throughout much of the country, including the NorthwestLike farmers in other countries, American ranchers could grow hemp without having it mistaken for its marijuana cousin. In an age when the agricultural industry faces financial ruin, they would add a crop that has several uses, a ready market and the promise of profitability.To be sure, it might be overproduced like many other commodities, but at least farmers would have an option. They are in constant search of rotation or alternative crops.Hemp is a great fabric producer. It's used for cloth and paper, among other items, but its sturdy fibers are especially prized for rope.Farmers throughout the land met a heavy demand in World War II. When wartime production ceased, the hemp plant lived on in wild form. It was said that wild hemp was found in every county in the West.Word had it that many a country boy, testing reports that it was really marijuana, tried smoking hemp behind the barn, only to learn why it doesn't pose the threat that drug officials think it does.Hemp has only trace amounts of the intoxicant that gives marijuana users their high. Even though that has been enough for drug enforcers to ban it, it isn't enough to give smokers a buzz.Think of the products that would be gone from grocery and pharmacy shelves if the same attitude prevailed toward items with trace amounts of alcohol.That's hemp's problem. It has traces, but only traces, of its evil cousin's no-no. One thing that concerns drug-law enforcers is the possibility that legal hemp would give new meaning to the term cover crop. They're afraid hemp would shield the marijuana plant from identification.But hemp would be cut before marijuana had matured. If anything, an unharvested hemp stand might give away the secret of its cover.To be reasonable, a shield for marijuana isn't what the working farmer has in mind. Nor is it what the marketplace wants. A profitable crop with an industrial purpose is the real issue involving the introduction of hemp as an agricultural commodity.But let's at least test the product and the potential problem. Minnesota and Hawaii have cleared the legal way for experimentation.Georgia farmers are calling on their legislators to let them grow hemp. Other states, including those in the Northwest, ought to put their muscle behind appeals to their legislatures for legal authority to try the fiber producer.The national legislature ought to take up the issue of distinguishing between hemp and marijuana and consider how to authorize the former without promoting the latter.Hemp's potential purposes are great, and smoking it for intoxication isn't one of them.Published: January, 25, 2000 Copyright 2000 Capital Press Agriculture Weekly. POLL:Should lawmakers legalize growing industrial hemp so farmers can cultivate an alternative crop? News Hemp Archives:
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