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Legislator Appeals for Common Sense

Posted on October 17, 2000

Rep. Derek Owen
580 Brockway Road
Hopkinton, NH 03229-2012

October 17, 2000

Dear United States Senator:

This is another appeal to your common sense and of course for your help!

I was a co-sponsor of HB 1576-FN-A in 1998 and sponsor of HB 239-FN-A in 1999 both relative to the growing of industrial hemp. I sent a letter to all US Senators dated September 27, 1999, only three, yes three out of one hundred Senators even gave me the courtesy of a reply. Their response was stereotypical Drug Enforcement Agency.

I will again cite the policy established in 1937 by congressional action, “the production and sale of hemp and its products for industrial purposes will not be adversely affected by this bill.” Even though the bill was repealed and replaced in 1970, no amendment was forthcoming to change the status quo. However, since the drug enforcement authority was transferred to the DEA in 1973 there has been a concerted effort to include hemp on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and in Schedules I and IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Indeed in his statement on Thursday, March 12, 1998, James McGivney, Chief Public Affairs for DEA is misleading by implying that hemp is marijuana.

I could list at length attributes for hemp and its products but, to name a few: it can provide four-to-ten times more pulp for chlorine-free process paper per acre then trees, it can be used for fuel, animal feed and bedding, plastics, and multiple products for people inside and out.

Hemp should not be included in the War on Drugs. Hemp is not a Drug! Many states are interested in industrial hemp and General McCaffrey through his agency is a major obstacle. His war appears to be of an overkill nature; search and destroy!

I include a copy of my short speech for HB 1576-FN-A, which failed by only a few votes, for your consideration. I was able to pass HB 239-FN-A this year by fourteen votes. However, after a trip through the Finance Committee, which recommended it ought to pass, it failed due to pressure from DEA and law enforcement agencies. A new bill is in the works.

Hemp should be treated as a sustainable agricultural crop. Hemp is not a drug.


Representative Derek Owen
New Hampshire House of Representatives

Cc: Energy Secretary Bill Richardson
Governor Shaheen
Senator George Musler
Washington Post
NY Times
Boston Globe

New Hampshire Rep. Derek Owen Speech for HB 1576-FN-A – NH Hemp Bill ’99

Hemp is one of the oldest, and most useful, industrial fibrous plants known to man. It has been cultivated and used by human beings for 6,000 years. It yields three different products — fiber, seed, and a woody material known as hurds. These raw materials can be made into an amazing variety of things: paper, cloth, rope, building materials, packagaing, food, even plastic.

The versatility of this plant is matched by its adaptable nature as a farm crop. Its origins as a cultivated plant are in China, but it grows easily almost anywhere. In fact, until the 1930s, and even afterward, hemp was a critically important crop in many parts of the United States.

Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew it, and its role for farmers both before and after them was prominent and unquestioned.

Today its value and versatility remain — but current agricultural circumstances in New Hampshire seem to argue even more strongly in favor of its renewal as an option for farmers.

Why should New Hampshire deny its small farmers the opportunity to explore development of a crop that is clearly in their interests to examine?

Those who take the trouble to learn the facts will see that hemp cultivation in no way amounts to the legalization of marijuana. Hemp is, in fact, a kind of botanical anti-marijuana, easily cross-pollinating with its drup-producing cousin and rendering it useless for any illegal purposes.

No one confuses water with vodka, even though they look the same. The strict regulations proposed in HB 1576-FN-A, coupled with monitoring by chemical analysis, will ensure absolutely that hemp cultivation in New Hampshire will never be exploited by producers of illegal drugs.

This is, in the end, an issue of liberty. Small farmers in our state need all the options they can get. Here is a crop with multiple advantages and a long history of successful cultivation; one that grows easily, fills many needs, replaced dependence on less-renewable resources, and sees a developing market that is currently being filled entirely from foreign sources.

It is only a matter of time before misplaced fears about hemp and its politicized “dangers” are shown to be groundless.

When that happens, should not New Hampshire, with its spirit of independent thinking, lead the way in reviving the use of this most historic and environmentally friendly plant?

Thank You!
Rep. Derek Owen

Copyright © 2000, Rep. Derek Owen. All rights reserved.

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