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St Paul, Minnesota — Presidential hopeful Ralph Nader proposed on Friday shifting control of U.S. agriculture away from corporate conglomerates and back toward the family farmer.

“By weakening the stranglehold agribusiness has on the food industry, we will be able to increase farm gate prices and competition, which will consequently reduce food costs for consumers,” he said.

The Green Party candidate commented before what he was billing as a “super rally” Friday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis, an event he hoped would draw a large audience to raise money and build support for his inclusion in presidential debates.

His farm plan, among other things, calls for stronger enforcement of antitrust laws, prohibition of meatpacker ownership of livestock production facilities and allowing American farmers to grow industrial hemp.

Next to him on a table during a news conference sat a pile of 18,000 signatures of Minnesotans requesting that Nader be included in the debates.

The Minnesota stop was the second of four major rallies. The first, in Portland, sold out with 10,000 tickets at $7 apiece.

Copyright © 2000, Associated Press. All rights reserved.

St Paul, Minnesota — Presidential hopeful Ralph Nader proposed shifting control of U.S. agriculture away from corporate conglomerates and back toward the family farmer on Friday.

“By weakening the stranglehold agribusiness has on the food industry, we will be able to increase farm gate prices and competition, which will consequently reduce food costs for consumers,” he said.

The Green Party candidate commented before what he was billing as a “super rally” at the Target Center in Minneapolis, an event he hoped would draw a large audience to raise money and build support for his inclusion in presidential debates.

His farm plan, among other things, calls for stronger enforcement of antitrust laws, prohibition of meatpacker ownership of livestock production facilities and allowing American farmers to grow industrial hemp.

Next to him on a table during a news conference sat a pile of 18,000 signatures of Minnesotans requesting that Nader be included in the debates.

The Minnesota stop was the second of four major rallies. The first, in Portland, Oregon, sold out with 10,000 tickets at $7 apiece.

Former talk show host Phil Donahue and others have joined the longtime consumer advocate and his running mate, Winona LaDuke of Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation, for this leg of the campaign.

The last time Nader visited Minnesota, he held a smaller rally at the University of Minnesota that drew a packed house of 1,400 and raised about $17,000.

It’s an unusual way for a presidential candidate to raise money, but Nader says the rallies are the best way to show how serious he is.

“We have to demonstrate that we can draw far greater audiences,” Nader said.

Nader cited Minnesota as an example of a state on the cutting edge of what should be done to spur more voter participation.

Three things — debate access, public financing and same-day voter registration — helped Gov. Jesse Ventura get elected, andNader thinks those principles should be emulated by other states.

“Those three factors should be the law of the land,” he said, adding that “campaign finance reform is the boulder on the highway to justice.”

He said if he were in the debates, one of his top priorities would be spurring more discussion on agriculture policy.

“It’s almost entirely ignored by Bush and Gore,” he said, after throwing down a quick snack of an organic fig bar.

He said it would be in Bush’s best interest to insist that Nader and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan be allowed into the nationally televised debates.

That “would throw Al Gore completely on the defensive,” Nader said.

Copyright © 2000, Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Madison, Wisconsin — Ralph Nader rocks.

“The Orpheum is the place to be tonight,” says a TV reporter outside the theater where a sellout crowd, mostly young people, has paid $10 a head to hear Mr. Nader explain why he’s running for president.

The Republican and Democratic tickets probably could not get this kind of youthful turnout if they paid the audience. And let’s all breathe a sigh of relief for that. No matter whom you hope to see elected president in November, you certainly do not want to live in a country where the universities are filled with students who are passionate about Al Gore and George W. Bush. What would they save for middle age?

Mr. Nader comes onstage to thunderous applause and launches into a long and rambling speech, attacking Joe Lieberman as the “consummate corporate Democrat, that hybrid Republicrat.” Mr. Nader is furious about the selection of Mr. Lieberman for the Democratic ticket. Why, he demands of the audience, couldn’t Mr. Gore have picked a running mate like the pure of heart (albeit somewhat charisma-challenged) Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, the champion of campaign finance reform?

Mr. Nader is furious about campaign finance, along with — this is a very, very incomplete list — the World Trade Organization, NAFTA, the death penalty, genetically engineered food, child poverty, the military budget, the Taft-Hartley Act, tuition at public universities, the evening news’s obsession with the weather, the ban on industrial hemp and the fact that Al Gore didn’t show up for the Farm Aid concert. And there’s no apparent priority to his outrage — in Wisconsin on Wednesday, child poverty did not get nearly so much of a raking-over as the Farm Aid snub.

Lack of access is a big theme in this campaign. He told a long story to one editorial board about how Al Gore had weaseled out on a meeting, and complained bitterly about black political leaders who denied him a platform while Mr. Gore and President Clinton were welcomed at Sunday services. (“They’ve got the cadence down, they pander. It’s disgusting to watch.”) Mr. Nader, who by any possible standards is one of the great living heroes of American public life, has been frozen out by the Democratic power structure for a long time. It’s astonishing when you think about it. He may be an irritating nag, but there are tens of thousands of people alive today because of Mr. Nader’s 35 years of work in the consumer movement. And the vice president won’t take his phone calls. No wonder he’s mad.

Fortunately for the campaign, Mr. Nader does not get cranky about creature comforts. (This is the man who regards Hampton Inns as the height of luxury because they have serve-it- yourself breakfasts in the lobby.) After he went unfed for the better part of a day on Wednesday, a merciful newspaper editorial board sent someone to buy him a sandwich. “If something is important to do, it’s fun to do,” he said placidly, as his van rocketed from one side of Wisconsin to the other. Mr. Nader eventually had to stop talking because his throat had dried up and no one had remembered to bring him a bottle of water.

He generally shrugs off charges that a strong showing for him will throw the election to Mr. Bush. Sometimes his team argues that a Gore victory is already inevitable — the only time the Nader campaign is guilty of giving the vice president too much credit. Sometimes Mr. Nader says the two candidates are so much alike, it doesn’t make any difference who wins. (He seems particularly serene about abortion rights, which he claims the Republicans don’t really want to see overturned.)

But even if Mr. Gore does lose and Mr. Bush turns out to be not quite as moderate as Mr. Nader thinks, that would be OK too. A really conservative Republican administration, he said, would mobilize the forces of progressivism. “I remember how Jim Watts [the Reagan administration’s Interior secretary] galvanized the environment movement,” he recalled nostalgically.

We’ve already had one lanky and distinctly uncuddly progressive candidate who felt Al Gore wasn’t strong enough on issues like racial injustice, child poverty and the struggles of working families. Bill Bradley’s campaign never caught on, but Mr. Nader says that was more a problem of style than substance. “He just didn’t show the passion,” said Mr. Nader. “His rhetoric didn’t rise to the indignation level.”

No problem with that here.

Copyright © 2000, The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.

On Thursday, September 14, HIA Board Member Mari Kane met Ralph Nader at an appearance at San Francisco’s VoteNader campaign office. There, Mari formally announced the HIA’s endorsement of Mr. Nader and presented him with an HIA logo hemp hat, which he then wore proudly.

The HIA is asking its membership around the country to do the same!

If you can attend any of the following Nader rallies, we encourage you to present Ralph with a hemp hat (your logo?) and to publicly thank him for his support of the hemp industry. (A hug or other appropriate display of affection might embellish the photo op.)

Important Note: Don’t forget to size the hat before you hand it to him, so that it slips on his head more easily.

This presentation can be done spontaneously, but we suggest you first contact the local Nader people to coordinate it. Call the HIA office 707-874-3648 to coordinate with Nader’s national agricultural organizer (Kevin Webb). Please try to get the media’s attention when you approach Nader, and try to get a photo of yourself with Nader wearing the hat! Send a copy to the HIA office and we’ll upload it to the HIA website.

This kind of action produces very positive results:

  1. Calls attention to the Hemp Industries Association’s endorsement of Nader (his first by an “industry”);
  2. Steers Nader to discuss one of his new favorite topics;
  3. Promotes your hemp business;
  4. Gives you an opportunity to promote Vote Hemp’s Voter Guide and hemp in general.
  5. Gives you and the industry exposure to the media.

As part of the HIA’s endorsement of Nader, the HIA Board and Vote Hemp are strongly encouraging attendance of Nader’s rallies by HIA members. The HIA needs to have a visible presence at each and every one of Nader’s gigs to remind voters that Nader is Pro-Hemp. Please mark your calendars to promote hemp at the following events. After September 24, be sure to download and copy the Vote Hemp Voter Guide from www.votehemp.com for distribution at Nader’s and other political rallies.

Please help get Nader into the debates and into double-digit poll figures!

Only 50 shopping days till the election!

Keep up with the Ralph on the Road schedule at www.votenader.com

Friday, September 22 Minneapolis, MN
5:30 PM – Reception with Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke
Target Center Hospitality Suite
$100 Contribution, for more info and to RSVP

The Target Center – SUPER RALLY
9 PM (Eastern)—Live on CSPAN
Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke
with Special Guests Michael Moore and Granny D.
600 First Avenue North (downtown Minneapolis)
Doors open 5 PM. Event begins 7 PM
Minimum donation: $7

To order tickets by phone: (612) 332-7170
To buy in person: 1029 Washington Ave South, 55415
Tickets are also available at: First Avenue Ticket Outlets
For more info, www.mngreens.org

Saturday, Sept. 23 Seattle, WA
5:30 to 7 PM. – Reception with Ralph Nader & Jim Hightower
Private Room at Key Arena Seattle, WA
$100 Contribution

The Key Arena – SUPER RALLY
Ralph Nader with Jim Hightower
Doors open 5 PM. Event starts 7 PM
Minimum donation $10

To order tickets by phone and information: (206) 329-2441
To buy in person: 2215 E. Union Street (23rd and Union)
Visit the Seattle Super Rally Webpage!

Tuesday, Sept 26 Pittsburgh, PA
3:00 – 5:00 PM – Dinner and reception with Ralph Nader
Unitarian Universalist Church, Shadyside
$100 Contribution
RSVP to Paul Colaiaco, 412-951-6181

Sunday, October 1 Boston, MA
The Fleet Center – SUPER RALLY
“Let Ralph Debate”
Ralph Nader, Michael Moore, and Howard Zinn
Doors open 12:30 PM. Event starts 2 PM
Minimum donation $10

To order tickets by phone: (617) 995-2595
Ticket Office: 1 Davis Square, 2nd Floor, Somerville

Tuesday, October 3 Boston, MA
First Presidential Debate
John F. Kennedy Library at University of Massachusetts
Free the Speech: Open the Debates

Wednesday October 11 Winston-Salem, NC
Second Presidential Debate
Wake Forest University
Free the Speech: Open the Debates

Tuesday, October 17 St. Louis, MO
Third Presidential Debate
Washington University
Free the Speech: Open the Debates

Tuesday, November 7 – Your Home Town!
Election Day – Register to Vote!

Copyright © 2000, Hemp Industries Association. All rights reserved.

Washington, DC — Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader today challenged Al Gore and George W. Bush to explain their positions on industrial hemp and the opposition of the U.S. government to an agricultural crop that would benefit farmers and manufacturers while at the same time providing many environmental benefits.

“Farmers in communities throughout the U.S. would benefit from the ability to grow industrial hemp, a viable crop with some of the longest and strongest natural fibers in the plant kingdom and with thousands of potential uses,” Nader said in a Sept. 9 letter to Gore and Bush.

Nader challenged Gore and Bush to explain to the American voters why it is illegal for farmers in the U.S. to grow a crop that has the potential to help address the global depletion of forest resources, the dependency on foreign oil, the harmful effects of petrochemicals, the excessive use of pesticides for fiber crops, and the economic depression of farming communities.

“Due to bureaucratic red tape and over zealousness on the part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, industrial hemp cannot be commercially grown in the United States. The DEA and other federal agencies are greatly out of touch with the American public in enforcing their medieval rules regarding industrial hemp,” Nader said.

Nader explained to Gore and Bush that industrial hemp is not a drug, and contains very little of the psychoactive component THC that is found in marijuana. Cumulative studies in Europe and Canada have shown that industrial hemp is not psychoactive. Therefore, smoking it will only give you a headache, not a high.

Industrial hemp produces extremely versatile fiber and oil that can be used in various applications including clothing, fuel, paper, cosmetics, animal bedding, automobile parts, food, rope, textiles, carpeting, etc.

In the past three years, 19 states have introduced pro-industrial hemp resolutions.


Sept. 11, 2000

Honorable Albert Gore
Vice President
The White House
Washington, D. C.

Governor George Bush
Governor’s Mansion
Austin, Texas

Dear Vice President Gore and Governor Bush:

On Aug. 24 in the early morning, 25 armed agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Marshals Service, and Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Task Force uprooted two test plots of industrial hemp planted on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, destroying the crop that was legally planted under the sovereignty of the Oglala Sioux tribe. The Oglala Sioux people had high hopes for this crop, believing it would allow them to achieve more economic self-sufficiency while also providing useful supplies such as building materials, as tribal leader Joe American Horse explained at a recent press conference in Washington D.C.

Farmers in communities throughout the U.S. would benefit from the ability to grow industrial hemp, a viable crop with some of the longest and strongest natural fibers in the plant kingdom and with thousands of potential uses. In March of 1998 a coalition of individuals and organizations — including private businesses and non-profit organizations — submitted a petition to both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture requesting that the agencies initiate rulemaking proceedings that would lead to the enactment of regulations permitting the domestic production of industrial hemp. Despite the prominence of many of the signers and a clearly and rationally argued case that marijuana and industrial hemp are different, there has been no response from either the DEA or the USDA to date. Sitting on this petition is an arbitrary and capricious display of administrative behavior.

In the past three years 19 states have introduced pro-industrial hemp resolutions. Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Tennessee introduced pro-industrial hemp legislation. And, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont and Virginia have passed industrial hemp legislation and resolutions. But Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey has lobbied against any moves by the states to take legislative action to address industrial hemp.

I challenge you to reveal to the American voters your position on industrial hemp, and explain to them why it is illegal for farmers in the U.S. to grow a crop that has the potential to help address the global depletion of forest resources, the dependency on foreign oil, the harmful effects of petrochemicals, the excessive use of pesticides for fiber crops, and the economic depression of farming communities.

I am sure you are aware that industrial hemp is not a drug, and contains very little of the psychoactive component THC that is found in marijuana. Cumulative studies in Europe and Canada have shown that industrial hemp is not psychoactive. Therefore, smoking it will only give you a headache, not a high.

Industrial hemp is a viable crop with some of the longest and strongest natural fibers in the plant kingdom and with thousands of potential uses. The crop, grown by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, produces an extremely versatile fiber and oil that can be used in various applications including clothing, fuel, paper, cosmetics, animal bedding, automobile parts, food, rope, textiles, carpeting, etc.

Rather than responding to the call for industrial hemp from farmers, manufacturers and 19 states, Bill Clinton’s Drug Enforcement Administration wants to extend its bureaucratic control over products containing industrial hemp that has been legally imported from other countries. I was recently informed by Hawaii State Representative Cynthia Thielen that the DEA is preparing to propose new rules regulating industrial hemp that would, among other changes, declare any product containing any amount of THC to be a Schedule I Controlled Substance — the most restrictive category for controlled substances — with the exception of industrial hemp products not used or intended for human consumption, such as paper, clothing and rope.

These actions by the United States government are ensuring that while Canadian and other farmers prosper from industrial hemp, American farmers are unlikely to see its benefits anytime soon.

While American farmers are forbidden from commercially growing this crop, American manufacturers are allowed to import industrial hemp from China and other nations and manufacture hemp products. In the current farm crisis, farmers need alternative crops and hemp will likely be more profitable than other commodity crops. According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, in 1999 hemp yields grossed $308 to $410 per acre. These figures compare favorably to the $103-$137 gross made on canola and wheat crops per acre. Moreover, the market for industrial hemp has been greatly underestimated by the U.S. government. For instance, the use of natural fibers in bio-composites (such as automobile parts) is predicted to grow by 15-20 percent annually. And hemp is expected to be an important commodity for this market due to its favorable strength to weight ratio.

In addition to being a potentially economically viable crop, industrial hemp can also benefit the environment. It can replace wood fiber in most applications, such as building products and paper, aiding forest conservation efforts. It can minimize toxics in the environment, because when used in pulp for paper, its natural brightness avoids chlorine bleaching that produces dioxin, a powerful environmental toxin. It is also an excellent crop that needs few, if any, pesticides and herbicides, and used in rotation it chokes out weeds. Therefore, crops grown on the same field after hemp have shown increased yields. Industrial hemp also has a potential to be one of the bio-based fuels that could replace petroleum as a fuel source, thereby benefiting both national security and the environment. This benefit has attracted the support of ex-CIA director James Woolsey, who wants industrial hemp to be grown in the U.S.. Furthermore, its use in automobile bio-composites decreases energy consumption and these new components are more easily recycled than current auto parts, which are made of fiberglass.

As a result of its utility and its many benefits, industrial hemp has been experiencing a renaissance and is being grown by most industrialized countries throughout the world, with the exception of the United States. Countries such as Canada, England, Germany and France recognize its value and grow the crop, leaving the United States at a competitive disadvantage.

I urge each of you to speak openly on this subject and to let the media, as well as working families, know where you stand.

Sincerely,
Ralph Nader

Copyright © 2000, Nader 2000 General Committee. All rights reserved.

Washington, DC — Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader joined people who want to 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.

Copyright © 2000, The Olympian. All rights reserved.

Washington, DC — Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader joined people who want to grow and market industrial hemp yesterday in criticizing federal agencies for making it difficult for farmers to grow the crop. Nader, of Winsted, Connecticut, 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 United States 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. 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. While American farmers are barred from growing hemp, manufacturers are allowed to import it from other nations that produce hemp products.

Copyright © 2000, The Boston Globe. All rights reserved.

Nader Protests Industrial Hemp Restrictions

Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader criticizes a Drug Enforcement Admnistration plan to ban industrial hemp during a news conference in Washington.

Washington, DC — Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader joined people who want to grow and market industrial hemp today 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.

Freedom from Federal Funds

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.

Copyright © 2000, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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.

Copyright © 2000, Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Denver, Colorado — Under pressure from the White House drug czar, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is planning to classify industrial-use hemp as the most serious narcotic drug, such as heroin and cocaine.

Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader disclosed the plan Monday and blasted government efforts to crack down on farmers who want to grow industrial-use hemp for use in food, cosmetics, carpets and paper products.

“Industrialized hemp is not a drug,” Nader said, contending that the industrialized version of the marijuana plant has lower levels of psychoactive chemicals than plants grown for human consumption. “Smoking it will give you a headache, not a high.”

Nader said both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their plantations.

Jeffery Gain, a member of the North American Industrial Hemp Council and president of the Blue Ridge Co. in Illinois, said allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp would help preserve small farms, and provide local economies with more jobs to process hemp into a variety of products and foods. “The crop is good for the environment, and it’s good for the economy,” Gain said.

Rogene Waite, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, acknowledged the agency is redrafting the regulations concerning hemp and marijuana, but said she cannot discuss what the result might be, or when they will be published.

“We are working on some clarification of that subject,” she said.

Congress sought to discourage growing marijuana and hemp under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which imposed stiff taxes on production of the weed. But the United States allows $200 million worth of imports of hemp food and fiber products each year mainly from Canada and China, and U.S. farmers say they should be allowed to participate in the market for the product.

White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey wants to outlaw any hemp use, contending it sends the wrong message about drug abuse in the United States to permit legal sales of any form of the marijuana plant.

He also has argued that hemp-based foods could distort drug-testing programs. Hemp seeds are used in nut bars sold at health food stores.

Nader said hemp crops would yield farmers from $308 to $410 an acre, compared to the $103 to $137 per acre gained from growing canola.

“The DEA’s intrusion into the realm of agriculture is preventing American farmers from growing a crop that has the potential to help address the global depletion of forest resources, the dependency on foreign oil, the harmful effects of petrochemicals, the excessive use of pesticides for fiber crops, and the economic depression of farming communities,” he said.

State legislatures in California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota and Montana have passed pro-hemp legislation. Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Tennessee are considering similar measures.

Lance Gay is a reporter for Scripps Howard News Service.

Copyright © 2000, Denver Publishing Co. All rights reserved.