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Crime prevention concerns smoke hemp bill in House

Posted on April 1, 2000

By John Adams, The Minnesota Daily

The Crime Prevention Committee in the state House of Representatives killed a bill that might have allowed the University to grow industrial hemp.

The committee voted down the bill 10-7 on Tuesday amid concerns voiced by Tim McCormick, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Minneapolis. McCormick said his organization does not discern between marijuana and industrial hemp, and that legalizing hemp could send the wrong message to youth.

Industrial hemp and marijuana are from the same plant, cannabis sativa l., which is illegal to grow.

The bill would have given researchers at the University’s Morris campus and the Department of Wood and Paper Science on the St. Paul campus $150,000 to develop industrial hemp as a crop and to test its viability as an alternative to wood pulp in making paper.

Researchers would have needed permission from the DEA if the bill had passed through the Legislature and been signed by Gov. Jesse Ventura.

This research was intended to provide an alternative crop for struggling Minnesota farmers.

A similar version of the bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 54-4 three weeks ago. Former Gov. Arne Carlson vetoed an industrial hemp bill in 1998 under similar concerns about the crop’s law enforcement issues.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Roger Moe, D-Erskine, and by Rep. Steve Dehler, R-St. Joseph, in the House. Both legislators represent districts with large farming communities.

Copyright © 2000, John Adams, The Minnesota Daily. All rights reserved.