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Burning Issues: Industrial hemp advocate to speak at BHSU

Posted on December 11, 2000

Spearfish, South Dakota — An advocate of industrial hemp production in South Dakota is bringing his message to the students of Black Hills State University (BHSU) on Tuesday, December 12, 2000.

Bob Newland, a co-founder of the South Dakota Industrial Hemp Council and President of the South Dakota chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), will talk about the issue of industrial hemp at a forum sponsored by the BHSU Community Relations Club. The forum will be at 4:30 p.m. in Jonas Hall, room 305 on the BHSU campus.

Trevor Bryan, one of the organizers of the forum, said he hopes the public will learn something about the subject.

“Our main goal is to educate the public,” said Bryan. ”I think it is really important that the public knows what is going on with this issue since it’s going back to the legislature again to be voted on.”

The forum was intended to bring both sides of the issue together to discuss it, but according to Newland, the opposition won’t be there.

“The organizers of the forum attempted to find an opponent to speak also, asking legislators, state’s attorneys, law enforcement officials, even Governor Janklow to come and debate. None would come,” Newland said.

”It’s typical for policy makers to avoid the light of day on this topic, since all of the evidence points to the fact that it would be better if farmers were allowed to grow hemp in the United States,” said Newland.

Bryan said the Governor declined the invitation, “because he felt he was pretty clear on the issue so why would he need to go on record again.”

The Governor could not be reached for comment at press time.

Newland said all area legislators were invited to attend the forum and express their views.

He said his organization plans to reintroduce legislation to legalize the production of industrial hemp.

“Our aim is to get state barriers to industrial hemp removed as has been done in North Dakota and Minnesota and several other states,” Newland said. “Doing so allows farmers to get ready for the feds to change their silly laws.”

Newland said this forum would be a good way to get the facts about hemp out to the public. “We will take a searing look at the silliness of the laws,” Newland said.

According to Newland, hemp is one of the most versatile and efficient products known to man. “Anything made from trees, petroleum, or cotton can be made from hemp, usually more efficiently and cheaply, and always more friendly to the environment,” Newland said. “It has all the amino and fatty acids to sustain life.”

The production of industrial hemp could be one way to help energize South Dakota’s ag economy, Newland said.

“Thirty-three nations, including Canada, allow their farmers to grow hemp and their industries to purchase and manufacture with hemp. Customers in the United States purchased over $200 million worth of hemp and hemp products, mostly from Canada, this year,” Newland said. “Much of that hemp was trucked past barely-surviving South Dakota farms.”

Opponents to legalized hemp say there is no significant way to tell hemp from marijuana. “The only way (to tell the difference) is to test the THC which isn’t something you can stick in your pocket and go out and do,” said Col. Tom Dravaland of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. THC is the psychotropic value of the marijuana plant.

“Bob Newland has no desire to grow hemp as a value-added crop,” Dravaland said. “This is just a ploy by the NORML people to open the door to the legalization of marijuana. I’m not fooled by it,” Dravaland said.

Copyright © 2000, The Black Hills Pioneer. All rights reserved.