Washington, DC — Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader joined people seeking to legally grow and market industrial hemp Tuesday in criticizing federal agencies for making it difficult for farmers to grow the crop.
Nader also spoke out against a recent raid on a South Dakota Indian reservation in which federal agents seized at least 2,000 plants described as industrial-grade hemp plants by the crop’s owner.
Hemp cannot be grown commercially in the U.S. because it belongs to the same family as marijuana, although Nader pointed out that the levels of hallucinogenic THC are far lower in hemp than in marijuana.
“It is analogous to consuming poppy seed bagels or nonalcoholic beer,” he said. “Although these foods both have a small psychoactive component, people do not abuse them.”
Nader said the Drug Enforcement Administration is proposing new rules that would require a product containing any amount of THC to be classified a “Schedule I” controlled substance, the same category as heroin and LSD. Exceptions would be made for industrial hemp products not intended for human consumption, such as paper, clothing or rope.
The proposed rules “will continue to make it impossible for farmers to grow the crop,” Nader said.
While American farmers are barred from growing hemp, manufacturers are allowed to import it from other nations that produce hemp products.
“In the current farm crisis, farmers need alternative crops, and hemp will likely be more profitable than other commodity crops,” Nader said. Hemp also rarely requires pesticides.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies are greatly out of touch with the American public in enforcing their medieval rules regarding industrial hemp,” he said.
Nader said last month’s hemp bust in South Dakota showed that “while Canadian and other farmers prosper from industrial hemp, American farmers are unlikely to see its benefits anytime soon.”
The Aug. 24 raid occurred on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and involved crops being raised for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, said Joe American Horse, a tribal program director. He denounced federal agents for invading territory considered sovereign by the tribe and for hauling away the results of a bumper crop, with some plants growing up to 20 feet, he said.
“We’d like to get away from federal funding, we want to be on our own. This might be the answer,” he said.
American Horse was joined at the news conference by members of the North American Industrial Hemp Council.
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