Organic Consumers Association

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How Hemp Legalization Would Benefit My Family and Country

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How can a decision be both astonishing and a no-brainer? On June 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed (as the rest of the world long ago did) an industrial cannabis (hemp) cultivation provision in the massive five-year Farm Bill. The vote was 225-200. Of course, the whole Farm Bill was subsequently voted down, but that was just the usual nation’s political process falling apart – it had nothing to do with humanity’s longest utilized plant.

So I find myself, fresh back from months of international industrial cannabis research, calling a minor hemp study approval clause a landmark step for the nation, the planet and my family (not to mention a huge leap toward the end of the 40-year Drug War).

Because that’s what it was. Most of the early coverage of the hemp provision, put forth by Colorado Representative Jared Polis and two other congressmen, notes correctly that the Republican controlled House took the brunt of the Drug Enforcement Administration lobbying that had killed a similar provision on the Senate a week earlier, and, rightly, ignored its babbling, anti-American idiocy.

To quote one passage from the DEA talking point memo (first broken by Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post), “It is true that, if given a choice, marijuana smokers will seek cannabis with a relatively high THC concentration over the type of cannabis typically grown for industrial purposes. However, as indicated, there is no guarantee that a cannabis plant grown for industrial purposes will not cause a psychoactive effect when smoked.”

Really? That has never happened, anywhere. Canada, in its 15 years of hemp legality, has not had a single problem with hemp used for psychoactive purposes, according to Anndrea Hermann, who tests hemp crops for the Canadian government. We Americans buy a half billon dollars of Canadian hemp products every year, and that number is growing 20% annually.  We’re just not allowed to grow it here. This kind of trade imbalance, which the turf-protecting DEA deciders are finally failing to encourage, is why the American colonies fought for independence from Britain.

I should note here that, after three years of reporting from the Drug War’s front lines, I believe the good men and women of the DEA are doing their best. I applaud efforts to stem the flow of dangerous drugs like cocaine and black market prescription pills. What’s coming through here in the hemp discussion is my citizen anger at a government agency putting its budget ahead of the clear interests of the nation. Fighting tooth and nail to defend a ban on hemp is outrageous.

Why is our appetite for hemp products so insatiable? The hemp food and body care products, in which the Canadians specialize, are healthy. The Canadian government knows this. It conducts hemp cultivar (seed variety) research for its farmers, instead of lobbying to keep North Dakota, Kentucky and Colorado farmers from cultivating a much-needed cash crop, as our DEA does. In fact, the president of Canada’s largest hemp oil processing company, Shaun Crew, told me his company is ready to “parachute” into the North Dakota seed oil market the moment it’s legal to grow hemp Stateside. And it’s not just Canada. China’s president, in a recent visit to a hemp processing facility, called for a massive increase in hemp cultivation. They can’t keep up with demand.

Which gets to why the June 20 congressional hemp vote matters on my goat ranch, where my Sweetheart makes our clothing and yogurt, and the sun provides our power. Here are some details I noticed in my examination of the final days of the Drug War, [ Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution.]   In assessing the impact of the war on industrial cannabis, I found that the plant was already in an astonishing number of components in my life, and several of them were edible or related to home economics: Every morning I squeezed the perfectly Omega-balanced cannabis (hemp) seed oil (produced in Canada) into my family’s health shake. We pounded the stuff.

Then I put on my cannabis sun hat (made in China) and went for a run. I diapered my kids in organic hemp (the only material that held up to repeated washing and brutal New Mexican line drying) and hung our curtains with cannabis twine (Walmart–purchased, made in Romania). We then bathed the youngsters in Doctor Bronner’s Fair Trade hemp soap (lavender variety usually, though sometimes rose).

I mean, one tries not to sound like one of those “cannabis can do anything including bring about world peace and an end to Ring Around the Collar” people, but by the time I finished the assessment, I felt I deserved some kind of Canadian tax rebate. I discovered that I spent two grand a year on hemp products, none of which was domestically produced. That offends me as a patriot.
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