Illinois Lawmakers Would Legalize Hemp

Illinois Lawmakers Would Legalize Hemp
Posted by FoM on February 02, 2000 at 14:41:41 PT
By Lisa Snedeker, Post-Dispatch Springfield Bureau
Source: Post-Dispatch 
Some Illinois lawmakers see industrial hemp as a key ingredient in Illinois' agricultural future.The problem is, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency sees it as marijuana.Once a staple of the American colonies, hemp production was banned in 1937 by the U.S. government because two illegal drugs, marijuana and hashish, are obtained from hemp plants. 
Despite new interest in hemp's nonhallucinogenic uses, the government's stance hasn't changed."There is no such thing as growing hemp. You are growing marijuana," said Terry Parham, acting chief of public affairs for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington. "It's a misnomer. You are talking about growing a controlled substance."Legislators argue that industrial hemp, which can be used to make rope, clothing and paper, contains a negligible level of hallucinogens compared to marijuana. They say it can be grown in controlled settings to prevent misuse of the plant."It's time to quit making it a joke; it isn't pot," said Rep. Mary K. O'Brien, D-Coal City. "We're looking at serious issues facing Illinois farmers. If this is a viable crop and grows well in Illinois, we need to get them (DEA) to change the classification. There is a market, if we can produce it."State Rep. Charles Hartke, D-Effingham, is co-sponsoring a measure in the Illinois House that would urge Congress to acknowledge the difference between marijuana and the agricultural crop known as industrial hemp."It could save a lot of family farms," Hartke said.Sen. Evelyn Bowles, D-Edwardsville, who also believes the state needs to pursue alternative crops to keep residents from leaving its farms, is co-sponsoring a similar measure."We're going to move on this," said Bowles, who has been promoting the merits of industrial hemp for several years. "We're going to try to formulate some plans that will meet the approval of the DEA."The Illinois Farm Bureau and similar organizations need to make a commitment to take industrial hemp seriously, said O'Brien, who is a member of the House agriculture committee. "I don't really see them pushing this as an issue," she added.However, according to Tom Jett, Farm Bureau manager in St. Clair and Madison counties, the organization changed its policy in December and agreed to aggressively pursue actions that would require the DEA to issue permits to U.S. producers allowing the production of industrial hemp."The farm economy being what it is -- not very good -- we thought it was time to look at some alternative crops," Jett said.Joan Messina, assistant director of the state Department of Agriculture, headed a task force to research the issue for the House and Senate agriculture and conservation committees. She told the House committee last week that recommendations include the Legislature's need to differentiate between industrial hemp and marijuana as well as to request a permit from the DEA for Illinois to pursue research at Illinois universities."Illinois' soil and climate are very good for growing this crop," Messina said.Last year, 16 states -- including Illinois -- introduced some form of legislation for the study, research or production of industrial hemp. Only Hawaii was granted a DEA permit to specifically study the cultivation of industrial hemp, according to the task force report.That's because the production of hemp, according to the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, is illegal. And Parham, the DEA spokesman, said he doesn't see the law changing anytime soon. "And as a police officer and a father of three, I don't want it to," he said.The biggest obstacle facing the revitalization of the hemp industry, according to Parham, lies in the plant's leaves that contain THC, which are left over after processing. Hemp is made from the plant's stem."It's a security issue," he said.The bills are SB 1397 and HB 3559.Springfield Ill.Pubdate: February 2, 2000 2000 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cannabis News Hemp Archives:
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Comment #2 posted by nomorerights on February 02, 2000 at 18:48:23 PT
It is almost impossible to get rights back once we have given them away. Yes, hemp is marijuana, but why should that make any difference? While it is a drug, it is one of the most benign drugs in the world.
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Comment #1 posted by dug110 on February 02, 2000 at 15:07:41 PT
Our rights
Why is it that we have allowed the Fed's to tell we the people what we can and can't do in our home states???
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