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Our Opinion: Industrial hemp won’t go to pot

Posted on October 18, 2004

Dekalb, Illinois — Although politicos have every right to be concerned about the legalization of growing industrial hemp, they, like many people, shouldn’t become dazed about the actual use of the crop.

Currently, industrial hemp is illegal to grow in Illinois, even for research purposes.

But many believe the ability to grow the crop is beneficial not only for research purposes, but for the environment as well.

Industrial hemp — which has a much lower THC level than what is found in marijuana used for smoking — can be used to produce paper, textiles, oil for food and a number of other products. It also could help revitalize the nutrient-depleted soil that results from a lack of crop rotation. Marijuana users typically look for a THC content between 6 and 20 percent, while industrial hemp has a THC level of less than 0.3 percent.

DeKalb County farmers grow mostly corn and soybeans, and adding hemp to the rotation could increase farm productivity.

Many people are against the growing of industrial hemp because it might be confused with its higher-quality counterpart. However, educating people about the crops’ differences won’t cause drug-wanting teenagers and others to trek through DeKalb hempfields in search of a cheap high.

In Canada, industrial hemp was grown without any fences surrounding the fields, but in the beginning, there were some minor problems with people stealing some of the crop.

If enough information is put out there to dispel the odors of growing industrial hemp — much like educators do with drug education program — farmers and legislators shouldn’t have to worry about the misconceptions the crop might bring.

While controversial in nature, growing industrial hemp shouldn’t be looked at as a problem, but a way to ignite the farming industry.

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