Policy Talk, Commerce Take Center Stage at Expo

Policy Talk, Commerce Take Center Stage at Expo
Posted by FoM on May 13, 2001 at 12:17:22 PT
By Brian Seals, Sentinel Staff Writer
Source: Santa Cruz County Sentinel 
State Assemblywoman Virginia Strom-Martin said Saturday that her bill aimed at legalizing hemp production in the Golden State has a "60-40" chance of passing."Iím feeling pretty good about it," Strom-Martin, D-Santa Rosa, said at the fourth annual Santa Cruz Industrial Hemp Expo. "Iíd say it has a pretty good chance at this point in time." The expo continues today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. Strom-Martinís bill is now before the state Assemblyís agriculture committee. 
Her positive outlook for the billís passage would be considered hopeful news to the more than 75 vendors who were at the expo offering their wares of hemp food, hemp pants, hemp shirts, hemp rugs, hemp wallets, hemp shoes and, yes, even hemp underwear.To make those products in the United States means manufacturers have to import the hemp from another country because of this countryís ban on hemp cultivation. Often that means importing the hemp from places like Canada, Germany, France and China.Some vendors said that sometimes made it hard to find suppliers."It does make it difficult," said James Breech of Eugene, Ore., who was selling woven goods at his booth. "Itís a small cottage industry. There is a lot higher start-up to buy yarns."Hemp advocates are hoping that the prohibition on hemp cultivation will end. Advocates say that hemp wrongly gets lumped with its cousin marijuana when it comes to changing policy."Thereís no logical reason why hemp remains illegal," said expo organizer Bob Lamonica. Seventeen states have passed or are considering legislation related to hemp production. However, only Hawaii has permission from the federal government to grow hemp and that is on a one-quarter of an acre test plot.While this weekendís expo featured a series of panel discussions about policy, there was plenty of festivity to be had as well. Live music sounded down Church Street, where vendors set up booths and people danced in the street in between viewing the array of goods for sale.Lamonica said attendance has dwindled since the inaugural year of the festival, when about 3,500 attended. This year he expected about 2,000.Still, the show is internationally known among hemp advocates. Vendors this year came as far away as Vietnam and Nepal.Lamonica said the fact the show has continued this long is significant. He hopes to return next year. "I think it will survive," he said. "Thereís nothing like it."Contact Brian Seals at:  bseals santa-cruz.comSource: Santa Cruz County Sentinel (CA)Author: Brian Seals, Sentinel Staff WriterPublished: May 13, 2001 Copyright: 2001 Santa Cruz County Sentinel Publishers Co. Contact: editorial santa-cruz.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Santa Cruz Industrial Hemp Expo Hemp Us Flag http://www.hempusflag.comSanta Cruz Festival Showcase Hemp Plants Many Uses Flag Display Presentation At 2001 Expo Bill Would Legalize Growing
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