Merits of Industrial Hemp Debated in Committee 

Merits of Industrial Hemp Debated in Committee 
Posted by FoM on January 24, 2001 at 20:22:02 PT
By Gwen Tietgen
Source: Daily Nebraskan 
The Agriculture Committee planted the first seeds of the industrial hemp debate Tuesday.LB273, introduced by Sen. Ed Schrock of Elm Creek, would provide for the licensed cultivation and commercial possession of industrial hemp.After listening to hours of contradictory testimony, senators decided to hold the bill in committee until next week.
Industrial hemp would create another potential cash crop for Nebraska farmers, Schrock said."The Declaration of Independence was printed on hemp paper, and the first American flag was made out of hemp," Schrock said."The United States is the only industrial country where the growing of industrial hemp is illegal."Industrial hemp, a species of cannabis sativa, has no more than three-tenths of 1 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, Schrock said.THC is the chemical in marijuana that affects the brain. The quantity in industrial hemp is not enough to affect the brain, Schrock said.Marijuana is defined as all parts of the genus cannabis having more than three-tenths of 1 percent.Proponents of the bill said industrial hemp and marijuana are completely different, and hemp can be a viable cash crop through the making of clothing, block construction, shingles, lotion and paper, among other things."If hemp and marijuana are the same thing, a Pekinese is the same as a Doberman pinscher," Schrock said.Christian Elowsky, a student obtaining his master's degree in botany, explained to senators the difference between levels of THC in industrial hemp, marijuana and ditch weed - or pot that grows in the wild.Where industrial hemp has three-tenths of 1 percent THC, ditch weed has 1 percent of THC and marijuana THC levels range between 2 and 20 percent, Elowsky said."Industrial hemp is a high-yielding cannabis," Elowsky said as he passed out several pictures of each plant, including one growing in Omaha."Industrial hemp grows about 15-feet high and looks like a sorry-looking Christmas tree. It's not marijuana"Pride Omaha's Executive Director Susie Dugan said the industrial hemp issue is a cruel hoax to farmers.Pride Omaha is an anti-drug organization."Hemp is not a profitable crop," she said. "All the hemp imported into the U.S. last year could've been produced on 20,000 acres."In 1998, Canada passed a similar bill on industrial hemp, Dugan said, and it is highly subsidized by the government."Marijuana is not a distant cousin of hemp," Dugan said. "It's the same thing."This bill sends the wrong message to kids, Dugan said. It tells them marijuana is no big deal, she said."Is it worth the risk? Are we going to fight drugs or promote them?" Dugan said as hemp proponents in the crowd gritted their teeth.But Schrock said he doesn't advocate the use of marijuana and doesn't want to send the wrong message to children."Even if the bill is passed, we can't grow industrial hemp without the supervision of the Drug Enforcement Agency," Schrock said. Source: Daily Nebraskan (NE) Author: Gwen TietgenPublished: January 24, 2001Address: 20 Nebraska Union1400 R Street, Lincoln, NE 68588-0448 Copyright: 2001 Daily Nebraskan Fax: (402) 472-1761 Contact:  letters Website: Article:Legalization of Hemp Debated Hemp Archives  
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