U. Illinois May Grow Hemp Plants 

U. Illinois May Grow Hemp Plants 
Posted by FoM on September 16, 2000 at 10:15:48 PT
By Holly Birch, Daily Illini U. Illinois
Source: U-WIRE
Illinois legislators are debating whether industrial hemp can be grown for research purposes on the University of Illinois campus. State Sen. Evelyn Bowles, D-Edwardsville, said a bill concerning industrial hemp is now on its third reading and should be called in the next veto session. If the bill goes through, the University could begin planting hemp as early as next spring. "Basically, we're asking for permission to be able to plant industrial hemp under controlled conditions in two plots, to determine viability," Bowles said. Industrial hemp is often confused with marijuana because of the leaf shape of both plants. They both come from the cannabis family but the amount of THC, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, present in hemp is about 1-100 of marijuana's THC. 
"So you'd have to smoke about 100 cigarettes of industrial hemp to get the same effect as marijuana," said Don Briskin, professor of plant biochemistry. The crop will be treated the same way a drug research plot would be treated. High-security fences and 24-hour surveillance will be used. Drug tests will be done on students and staff involved with the hemp to satisfy the concerns of the bill's opponents. Bowles said with more studies and new biotechnology capabilities, the amount of THC in industrial hemp can be absolutely reduced. State Representative Tim Johnson, R-Sidney, said he is completely supportive of this legislation. "It's a viable crop in an era when crop prices are down," Johnson said. "It makes sense." Johnson said he was on the house agriculture committee that originally looked at the bill and said he may even be a sponsor on the bill. He agreed with the proposal when it was introduced about a year ago. "Many opponents are saying it's a sublime attempt to legalize drugs," Johnson said. "That's absolutely not true." Still, he said he thinks the bill has support and will pass in the next session. The University of Hawaii already has a hemp plot in the ground, but the environmental conditions there are not as favorable as those of Central Illinois. Briskin said this area is ideal for growing industrial hemp. "During World War II, this was a major growing area for hemp," Briskin said. Industrial hemp has many uses and is one of the oldest fiber plants in the world. "Columbus's sails, Christ's sandals and Betsy Ross's flag were all made from hemp," Bowles said. "Henry Ford's first car used hemp oil." Briskin said the word "canvas" is actually a mispronunciation of cannabis. And today, hemp can still be used for those same purposes. But with new technology the products will be even better. Fibers from hemp are strong and make good cloth, plastic and lumber. The paper produced by hemp is said to be superior to tree paper. The products are biodegradable so they don't lie there forever, Bowles said. A house in North Dakota has been manufactured completely from industrial hemp. One hemp crop cycle lasts about three months from planting to harvest and two crops can be harvested in a year, Briskin said. Hemp is a viable crop and is a good alternative to conventional corn and soybeans, Briskin said. It is also a good plant for rotation with other crops. "We're closing our eyes to something that could be of added value to the economy and failing farms," Bowles said. "It's a justifiable and reasonable study." (U-WIRE) Champaign, Ill.Updated 12:00 PM ET September 15, 2000 (C) 2000 Daily Illini via U-WIRE CannabisNews Hemp Archives:
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