Coalition Pushes for Resurgence of U.S. Hemp Farming Industry

May 20, 2010 – A coalition of businesses and advocates are celebrating Hemp History Week, educating the public about hemp and the laws that prohibit its cultivation in the U.S.

Maybe you’ve seen the $1 bill with a text bubble containing the words “I Grew Hemp” stamped on the face of the bill near George Washington’s (closed) mouth. Like many of his gentleman farmer peers, including Thomas Jefferson, George Washington grew hemp because it provided the valuable raw material for for use in rope, sails, paper. In fact, Thomas Jefferson used hemp paper to draft the Declaration of Independence.

But if Washington or any of our forefathers grew hemp today, they would be doing so in violation of federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act. The only thing that Mr. Washington would see as criminal about growing hemp is the lost tax revenue and farm income from $396 million in hemp-related retail sales in the U.S. annually.

Industrial hemp, or, cannabis sativa L, the not-too-distant cousin of cannabis sativa, will not get you high, no matter how much you smoke. But ever since the federal government lumped the cultivation of industrial hemp into the same category as cultivating marijuana, makers of hemp products have had to import mostly Canadian-grown hemp to fill their needs. On Monday, a coalition of companies and hemp advocates kicked off the 1st Annual Hemp History Week in an effort to bring hemp cultivation back to the United States and breathe life back into a staple of American agricultural history.

Organizers have planned 185 events nationwide in 32 states with the goal of renewing strong support for hemp farming in the U.S.

“Lost opportunities for farmers and businesses have real consequences,” says David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which has long used imported hemp oil in almost all of their products.

“American companies making hemp products have no choice but to import their raw materials because our farmers continue to fear they will be prosecuted for growing hemp, due to an out of date federal ‘Reefer Madness’ policy which confuses non-drug industrial hemp with drug varieties of Cannabis,” adds Bronner.

Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, who submitted an official statement in support of Hemp History Week to Congress earlier this reiterated his support for hemp as a viable agricultural crop. “Hemp was an important crop for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and thousands of American farmers until it was outlawed completely in 1970 by the Controlled Substances Act. I know many farmers in my district could benefit greatly from the renewed freedom to rotate industrial hemp into their growing seasons,” said Rep. Paul.

Today, hemp is used for much more than rope and sails. Hemp seed is high in essential fatty acids, making it a common ingredient in a range of natural foods products.

“Compare hemp seed to soy or flax seed — and it wins hands down in both taste and nutrition,” says John W. Roulac, founder and CEO of Nutiva.

Hemp History Week organizers plan to collect tens of thousands of signed postcards and deliver them to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder asking them to end the ban on hemp farming.  by Timothy B. Hurst.  Source.

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