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Hemp push pits US against states, 30 countries

Posted on January 21, 2005

Washington, DC — The United States is the only developed nation that does not cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to a Congressional Resource Service report.

“In all, more than 30 countries in Europe, Asia and North America grow hemp,” concluded the report, “Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity.” In the 1990s, the European Union instituted a subsidy program for hemp fiber production. “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop,” the report says.

Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food.

U.S. law makes no distinction between cannabis and industrial hemp, and makes it illegal to grow hemp without a license from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to the CRS, “The DEA has been unwilling to grant licenses for growing small plots of hemp for research purposes,” even when the research is authorized by state law, because the agency believes that this would “send the wrong message to the American public concerning the government’s position on drugs.”

As an example, the report noted that the DEA “has still not ruled on an application submitted in 1999 by a North Dakota researcher” to grow a trial plot of hemp in compliance with state law.

More than a dozen states have passed laws authorizing the licensed cultivation of hemp for research purposes.

“The federal ban on hemp cultivation and production is a direct outgrowth of the government’s absurd war on cannabis,” said NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre. “This report should help to galvanize support among U.S. farmers, industrialists, and environmentalists for the legalization and regulation of hemp as an agricultural commodity.”

Copyright © 2005, Vermont Guardian. All rights reserved.

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