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Woody Harrelson finally got to be himself.

The 42-year-old actor has run the gamut of roles since his teens, from serial killer to pornography mogul to drag queen.

It wasn’t until the comedic documentary Go Further last year that Woody Harrelson had a chance to reveal his core.

In 2001, documentary filmmaker Ron Mann followed Harrelson from Seattle to Los Angeles on his monthlong Simple Organic Living Tour. The cycling excursion carried Harrelson’s message about progressive politics, economic growth and eco-friendly living to college campuses.

On a solar-paneled Chicago transit bus fueled by hemp oil, Mann and his crew followed, shooting footage of what the filmmaker has called an “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test on Tofu.”

“I see a lot of different things written that wouldn’t be a fair representation of how I think or feel, but this is it,” Harrelson said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “I think Ron just did an amazing job with this film — it has a lot of heart and a great message.”

On Saturday, Harrelson is flying to Sarasota, where he shot the movie Palmetto in 1998. Go Further will be shown as part of the Sarasota Film Festival today at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 9:45 p.m. at Hollywood 20 on Main Street.

Harrelson has taken heat for his devotion tocauses. In 1996, he was arrested on charges of harvesting hemp seeds in Kentucky to challenge state laws restricting use of the plant and to show it can be used a fuel and paper alternative. He was later acquitted.

He has lobbied for animal rights and to save Headwaters Forest, the country’s last unprotected growth of redwoods.

“I just want to keep going around and telling people about these things,” he said. “Looking at what’s going on in the world — the nuclear, timber, the petroleum industries — we’re seeing these things are not sustainable. What we need is a progressive leader.”

The Emmy Award-winning Harrelson, who grew up in Ohio, gained exposure on Cheers as Woody the bartender. He’s also known for his roles in Natural Born Killers (1994) and The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996).

But secretly, Harrelson doesn’t like being filmed.

“I hate cameras around,” he said with a laugh. “I generally shun the camera.”

The laid-back actor, once vegan, has recently gone “raw” — meaning he doesn’t eat any cooked food. He lives in Hawaii with his former assistant, Laura Louie, and their two daughters.

Copyright © 2004, Sarasota Herald-Tribune. All rights reserved.

In an upcoming film documentary actor Woody Harrelson goes on a West Coast journey in a hemp-powered bus to sell the joys of environmental purity with the Simple Organic Living Tour. This is just one example of the many uses of hemp. However, none of those uses include getting high. In short, hemp is not marijuana.

Hemp, even though grown from the same plant as marijuana (Cannabis sativa), contains none of the mind-altering THC traits found in marijuana plants.

“Smoking hemp leaves is an invitation for a headache — not a high,” said John Roulac, president, Nutiva, a Sebastapol, California company offering organic hemp and flax seed products, and author of three books on hemp, including Industrial Hemp.

The hemp plant, with its notorious connotations, has been banned from being grown in the United States — unfairly, hemp supporters say.

“What’s wrong with hemp?” joked Dennis Wagner, buyer, Rainbow Grocery CoOp, San Francisco. “We sell it. There’s nothing evil about it. There are a lot of good qualities about hemp.”

The Source For Hemp

Canada has become the main North American source for hemp seeds. The Canadian government, through the Health Canada protocol, requires producers and processors of hemp oil and hemp nut run THC tests on every lot, performed by a properly accredited laboratory, according to the TestPledge Website.

Through TestPledge, companies voluntarily commit to implement quality control measures, which limits the amount of trace residual THC in the hemp nut and oil, thus eliminating the risk of a false positive drug test. As signatories to TestPledge, manufacturers are agreeing to insure that hempseed oil is tested under five parts per million (ppm) and seed products under 1.5 ppm. An industry sponsored clinical trial established these limits as more than safe for the consumer.

Even with voluntary testing, the hemp industry has come under fire by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (see sidebar). And although controversy looms, hempseed products have emerged as reputable dietary supplements and health foods, bath and body products as well as hemp fibers used to produce a range of textiles and more.

Wagner said Rainbow CoOp carries the traditional hemp supplements and food products but also stocks hemp shower curtains, towels, body care and more. “We have no qualms about selling these products. Obviously there is a population who responds to this type of product,” he said.

Companies like Manitoba Harvest, which sells various hempseed products, says education and sampling are key to explaining the benefits to retailers and ultimately consumers. “By explaining the difference between hemp and marijuana and having a customer try one of the hemp food products, it helps to overcome the stigma,” said Mike Fata, North American sales manager, Manitoba Harvest and Food Co., Manitoba, Canada.

Nutritional Value

Hempseed foods, oils and supplements are valued because of their higher percentage of essential fatty acids than traditional fish or flax seed oil supplements. Supporters say it also tastes better.

Author Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., in his book, Earl Mindell’s Supplement Bible, says, “Hemp oil is a rich source of essential fatty acids [EFAs], the kind of fat that is missing from the modern diet,” specifically omega-3 and 6, with a higher emphasis placed on omega-3. Mindell goes on to say, “Essential fatty acids are important because they are instrumental in many body functions: the production of hormones and the regulation of blood pressure, cholesterol, and body temperature.”

In addition, Donald P. Goldberg, R. Ph., Arnold Gitomer, R. Ph., and Robert Abel, Jr., M.D., in their book, The Best Supplements for Your Health, summarize, “Hempseed oil, because it is rich in ALA and GLA fatty acids, may serve as an alternative to flax seed oil.”

“Hempseed oil may be nature’s most perfectly balanced oil. It contains an ideal 3:1 ratio of omega-6’s [linoleic acid] to omega-3’s [alpha-linolenic acid] for long-term use, and provides the omega-6 derivative gamma-linolenic acid (GLA),” wrote Udo Erasmus, Ph.D. in his book, Fats That Heal, Fats that Kill.

The use of cold-processing technology helps maintain the nutrients at optimum levels, manufacturers say.

Manitoba Harvest’s Fata said hemp has the added bonus of being a vegetarian source of EFAs. Also, “Fish oils do not have an appeasing flavor as does hemp seed oil,” said Fata.

Other purported reasons for hemp’s usage over fish oils include no trace mercury orother environmental toxin contamination issues, said David Bronner, president, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. In September, Bronner introduced an organic snack bar under the name Alpsnack, made from certified organic hemp nuts, almonds and fruits.

“In addition, hemp has a superior well-balanced protein content that is second only to soy in the vegetable kingdom and in a more easily digestible form,” said Bronner.

Added Nutiva’s Roulac, “While hemp is best known for its outstanding EFA profile, its protein qualities are outstanding. In fact many see the fastest growing category for hemp will be protein powders, and in the future hemp burgers and dogs.” Roulac’s new organic Hemp protein powder won an award for best new supplement product at the Natural Products Expo East trade show in Washington, DC.

Hoping to spread awareness, this year hemp industry members formed The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, a non-profit national group of hemp processors, marketers, farmers and information specialists. Among the goals of the alliance, the group plans to develop and execute marketing and export promotion programs, and facilitate research needed to advance the sector. The newly formed alliance will be working closely with other hemp organizations, like the Hemp Industry Association.

Significant, organized hempseed production has been ongoing for the last five years or so; however, the message about safety and health is still not as clear as industry members would like it to be. With that in mind, retailer outreach takes priority.

“We believe the best way to dispel myths and educate consumers on the benefits of hemp, as well as our product line, is to talk to them one-on-one at the grassroots level [in stores]. Once the consumer is given the straight facts, it’s not a hard sell,” said Les Szabo, president, Living Harvest Conscious Nutrition USA. According to Szabo, sales of Living Harvest products have been on a steady increase. “We just launched our product line two months ago and we’ve received an overwhelming response from the health food store community,” he said. “Very few retailers have said no to the product line.”

A New Twist On Hempseeds

Hempseed manufacturers have parlayed hemp’s nutritional benefits into functional food forms like bars and nut butter spreads. Other whole ingredients, like seeds or powders, can be sprinkled on or baked into dishes and mixed into shakes. Retailers can offer recipes introducing new takes on everyday meals with the use of hemp.

“We sell our oil to many five star restaurants and hotels that use the oil to make gourmet salad dressing and sauces. You cannot do that with cod liver oil or even with flax seed oil,” said Fata.

Dr. Bronner’s is tying 200,000 samples of the organic AlpSnack hemp nut snack bar to its new quart soaps made with organic oils (certified under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic food regulations), which contain hemp.

“The samples will introduce many consumers, who care about health and making the world a better place, to hemp foods. Hopefully many people will be turned on to hemp foods through this effort,” said Bronner, adding that all profits from Alpsnack sales are allocated to advocating for the full reintroduction of industrial hemp in the U.S.

“The development of markets for hemp food products/ingredients is being achieved by marketing and promoting the products through a variety of channels (in-store demo’s, marketing/information pieces, print media, tradeshows, third party value-added food manufacturers) and targeting food brokers, distributors and retailers,” said Quebec-based Hempoil Canada’s president Shaun Crew. Hemp Oil Canada’s Hemp Nuggets (hulled hemp seeds) are said to have a flavorful “nutty” taste; a compliment to pasta, salads, cereals and more.

Hemp seed pretzels — or Hempzels as they are sold by Shawn House, owner Hempzel Pretzel — have become a mainstay in more than local Lancaster, PA natural food stores. “For the restaurants, pubs and breweries they are a gourmet pretzel for premium beverages; the stix are used with pasta dishes, the nuggets and twists for snacks,” House said.

The Hempzels, offered in soft and crunchy varieties, are made with a blend of unbleached white flour, Canadian hulled hempseed, gluten-free hemp flour and hemp oil. “For the natural foods industry Hempzels highlight the omega-3 content, protein, vitamins, and great taste,” said House.

New Business

Manufacturer Ruth Shamai of Ruth’s Hemp Foods in Toronto added that her company is also taking the “one store at a time” approach to educating retailers. “Eventually the message gets through. I am seeing much more interest in hemp foods now,” said Shamai, who recently introduced a meatless Omega Burger using shelled hempseed.

Getting someone to try a hemp product, Shamai said, may result from a general curiosity of hemp seed foods after hearing about the nutritional values or it may be from an aversion or allergy to something else, like wheat.

Companies like Living Harvest Conscious Nutrition and Ruth’s Hemp Foods point toward recent increased distribution in the states to help their business. In September, Living Harvest announced the opening of a new U.S. office in Portland, OR and a partnership with MegaFood (Derry, NH), whereby MegaFood would sell and distribute the Living Harvest hemp food line of seed oils, seeds, whole food bars and protein powders.

“There is a real congruency,” said Living Harvest’s Les Szabo of the partnership. “Both companies share a product philosophy based on whole food understanding.”

Tortilla chips and Omega Burgers and more are included in the family from Ruth’s Hemp Foods.

Industry members say they expect to see the food category expand to include more mixes like brownies, pancake, and waffle, as well as other uses like cosmetics, paper, fuel, paints, and resins, where small fractions of these latter categories are already on the market.

“It’s a wonder crop. We are educating about the nutritional value, but also about hemp as a sustainable crop for our world,” said Lyn Gordon, president French Meadow Bakery, Minneapolis. The company offers Healthy Hemp Sprouted Bread that is in high protein, low carb, high in fiber and high in Omega content, Gordon said.

Hemp Personal Care

The range of body care products continues to expand in general with hemp products expected to take flight. National companies like The Body Shop have already introduced hemp bodycare products into the mainstream. Natural companies like Canolio, Hemp Oil Canada, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and more have seen success with their lines.

“People are attracted to these alternative medicinal products, because they do not wish to use (or use as little as possible) cortisone or other chemical products which are prescribed by physicians,” said Lucie E. Letourneau, president, Canolio (Quebec).

Letourneau said a March 2003 cosmecueticals report from Freedonia Insitute, Freedonia Focus on Cosmeceuticals, stated, “U.S. demand for cosmeceutical products is expected to increase 8.5 percent per year to $5.1 billion in 2007, propelled by a stream of new and advanced product introductions offering age-defying and appearance-enhancing benefits for an aging population.”

Letourneau said Canolio experienced “strong growth” in 2002-2003 in all sectors of personal care (mass market, drugstores, food chains, lingerie, etc.) worldwide. “We are making major inroads in targeting new consumer bases with innovative hemp by-products, in addition to increased emphasis on “burgeoning” niches such as intimate care products,” said Letourneau.

Canolio products, like the SexyGanja personal lubricant jelly made with hemp oil, are said to prevent dryness and regulate the water loss of the skin (due to detergents, wind, cold and sun) in many cases. Canolio’s other hemp cosmecueticals include body milk, bath oil, body oil and more.

Hemp oil can also help for acne problems since it is rich in vitamin F. Hemp Oil Canada offers a line of hemp body care products (lotion, shampoo, conditioner, cream and lip balm).

Copyright © 2003, Vitamin Retailer Magazine. All rights reserved.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota — The growers of thousands of hemp plants seized August 24 and a Delaware company that had contracted to buy the plants have filed federal lawsuits in Rapid City to bar the destruction of the plants.

Nearly 4,000 plants were taken by federal authorities from two plots on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The lawsuits argue that a 1998 tribal ordinance permits the growing of industrial hemp. The statute allows the cultivation of hemp if it has less than 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, the drug that gives marijuana its high.

But the government makes no such distinction between hemp and marijuana, said US attorney Ted McBride.

“The plant is the plant,” he said.

Tom Cook disagrees. Cook, project director of the Slim Butte Land Use Association, said the government can distinguish between the plants but does not choose to do so. The association is a group of Oglala landowners who planted hemp to use as a home-building material.

“We’re not afraid because there’s the truth on our side,” Cook said.

McBride’s office wants a federal judge to permit the destruction of all the plants, except a few taken for drug testing.

Los Angeles lawyer Thomas Ballanco, who represents Oglala land committee members and the growers, said federal treaties give the tribe the right to develop new agricultural products on the reservation. Ballanco helped the tribe write its 1998 statute on hemp.

Delaware-based company Tierra Madre also has sued the Drug Enforcement Agency and the hemp growers, saying it had a contract to purchase hemp from grower Alex White Plume.

The company researches, develops and trades in industrial hemp products. It argues that the federal government is holding its property.

Company President Joseph Hickey Sr. is known for his ties to actor Woody Harrelson, who wants to make hemp and pot legal. In an affidavit, Hickey said the seizure of the plants has halted the housing project.

But McBride’s office filed a motion in the case Friday saying the deal between the company and White Plume was not completed until this week, long after the seizure of the plants.

“The purpose of entering into the agreement was not lawful, but was to subvert the drug laws of the United States of America which govern the production of industrial hemp,” the filing stated.

Lawyers expect a hearing to be scheduled soon before a federal judge.

Copyright © 2000, Minot Daily News. All rights reserved.

Non-wood pulp mill will process hemp waste into paper

Winnipeg, Manitoba — Actor Woody Harrelson has invested two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in a non-wood pulp mill proposed for Manitoba.

If the project proceeds, it would be the first of its kind in North America.

“It’s looking really positive right now,” Mr. Harrelson said on Tuesday outside the Hotel Fort Garry. “This place is great. You’ve got everything you need, man.”

Mr. Harrelson, Clayton Manness, the Canadian Alliance co-president, and Jeff Golfman, a businessman, have formed Prairie Pulp and Paper Co. and conducted a series of feasibility studies.

Mr. Golfman, founder of Plan-It Recycling and now the head of Dolly Ventures, is a close friend of Mr. Harrelson’s.

“The results are favourable enough that we want to proceed,” Mr. Manness said. “We’ve tried to keep this under wraps for the best part of two years. None of this is a slam-dunk. We’re just on the radar map.”

While much of the money invested was Mr. Harrelson’s, the Manitoba government has also contributed. Last year, the province gave Man Agra Capital Inc., Mr. Manness’s company, $50,000 to study the feasibility of the project. In all, government and other supporters have invested $340,000.

Mr. Harrelson is best known as the dull-witted bartender on television’s Cheers, and he has appeared in several Hollywood films, including The People vs. Larry Flynt and Natural Born Killers. He was in Winnipeg this week for meetings to set up a slate of officers for Prairie Pulp. Those names have not been released.

The mill would use straw from oats, flax, wheat and eventually hemp to make paper.

Mr. Harrelson, an outspoken advocate of hemp cultivation, became interested in the project when the federal government passed a law allowing the growing and harvesting of industrial hemp. The actor was recently acquitted of a marijuana-possession charge laid after he ceremonially planted four hemp seeds to protest a Kentucky state law that considers hemp the same as marijuana.

“His real interest was that trees not be cut down,” said Mr. Manness.

“You’ve got the natural stuff on the ground here,” said Mr. Harrelson. “This can work. It really seems possible.”

While the mill project may some day use hemp, Mr. Manness stresses farmers will need other outlets for their crops.

“We’d only be taking the waste and there’s not enough money for them to dedicate fields just for that,” he said.

Another Manitoba company already uses straw in an innovative manner. The $142-million Isobord strawboard manufacturing plant in Elie uses shredded, pressed straw in place of wood chips to make particle board.

During the Prairie Pulp feasibility studies, straw from Mr. Manness’s farm was shipped to North Carolina to see if it could be used to produce paper. Scientists had to ensure the correct properties were present, Mr. Manness said.

While the project proposes to begin producing pulp, Mr. Manness said the eventual goal is to make uncoated paper, the sort that can be used in fax machines.

The trio plan to spend close to $3-million on the next phase, hiring engineers and beginning the design process. If that goes well, a $400-million to $700-million mill is another two or three years away.

Mr. Manness said money would come from financial players in Toronto and New York, and from “well-heeled individuals” in the environmental community.

Mr. Harrelson was staying at the Fort Garry where the national Liberal caucus is meeting.

“I thought maybe the cameras were for me,” he joked after moving through the crowded lobby. “Your prime minister is going to be here, right?”

Copyright © 2000, National Post Online. All rights reserved.

Harrelson backs non-wood mill in Manitoba

Winnipeg, Manitoba — Actor Woody Harrelson has invested two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in a non-wood pulp mill proposed for Manitoba.

If the project – using straw from oats, flax, wheat and, eventually, hemp to make paper-proceeds, it would be the first of its kind in North America.

“It’s looking really positive right now,” Harrelson said Tuesday outside the Hotel Fort Garry. “This place is great. You’ve got everything you need, man.”

Harrelson, Canadian Alliance party co-president Clayton Manness and businessman Jeff Golfman have formed Prairie Pulp and Paper Co. and conducted several feasibility studies.

“The results are favourable enough that we want to proceed,” Manness said in a telephone interview. “We’ve tried to keep this under wraps for the best part of two years. None of this is a slam-dunk. We’re just on the radar map.”

While much of the money invested was Harrelson’s, the Manitoba government has also contributed. Last year, the province gave Man Agra Capital Inc., Manness’s company, $50,000 to study the feasibility of the project.

In all, government and other supporters have invested $340,000.

Harrelson is best known as the dull-witted bartender on television’s Cheers, but he has since appeared in several big Hollywood films, including The People vs. Larry Flynt and Natural Born Killers.

He was in Winnipeg Tuesday for meetings to set up a slate of officers for Prairie Pulp. Those names have not been released.

Harrelson, an outspoken advocate of hemp cultivation, became interested in the project when the federal government passed a law allowing the growing and harvesting of industrial hemp.

The actor was recently acquitted of a marijuana possession charge laid after he ceremonially planted four hemp seeds to protest a Kentucky state law that considers hemp the same as marijuana.

“His real interest was that trees not be cut down,” said Manness.

“You’ve got the natural stuff on the ground here,” said Harrelson. “This can work. It really seems possible.”

While the mill project may someday use hemp, Manness stresses farmers will need other outlets for their crops.

“We’d only be taking the waste and there’s not enough money for them to dedicate fields just for that,” he said.

Another Manitoba company already uses straw in an innovative manner.

The $142 million Isobord strawboard plant in Elie uses shredded, pressed straw in place of wood chips to make particle board.

While the project proposes to begin producing pulp, Manness said the eventual goal is to make the sort of paper that can be used in fax machines.

The trio plans to spend close to $3 million for the next phase, hiring engineers and beginning the design process. If that goes well, a $400 million to $700 million mill is another two or three years away.

Manness said money would come from financial players in Toronto and New York and from “well heeled individuals” in the environmental community.

Harrelson happened to be staying at the Fort Garry, where the national Liberal caucus is currently meeting.

“I thought maybe the cameras were for me,” he joked after moving through the crowded lobby. “Your Prime Minister is going to be here, right?”

Copyright © 2000, The Toronto Star. All rights reserved.

Woody Harrelson, the actor, has been cleared of marijuana possession after his symbolic planting of four hemp seeds in a Kentucky field.

The Natural Born Killers star planted the seeds in 1996 knowing that he would be arrested so that he could get the state to differentiate between hemp and marijuana.

The jury in Beattyville, Kentucky, took 25 minutes to find Harrelson not guilty on charges that could have landed him in jail for a year.

“When they said not guilty, I actually cried a bit because I really wasn’t expecting it. I was afraid. There was a real possibility of going to jail.”

Harrelson said renewed cultivation of hemp would help to save trees now consumed in paper production.

He said after the verdict: “Regardless of what the Supreme Court says, those people don’t think it’s right that someone should go to jail for growing industrial hemp.”

The Kentucky Supreme Court rejected Harrelson’s argument that the law should make a distinction between marijuana and hemp, which contains only minute amounts of the substance that makes marijuana smokers high.

In the 19th century, hemp was one of Kentucky’s leading crops, used for making rope and sails, before it was wiped out by anti-drug laws and the availability of other fibres.

Copyright © 2000, Times Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Beattyville, Kentucky — The legislature said hemp and marijuana are one and the same.

The state’s highest court agreed.

But five women and one man from Lee County said yesterday that actor Woody Harrelson didn’t break the law when he planted four hemp seeds four years ago in a grassy Lee County field.

The jury took only 20 minutes to find Harrelson not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana.

“That wasn’t marijuana he planted, if he planted anything,” juror Sylvia

Caldwell said as she left Lee District Court with Harrelson’s autograph on a piece of hemp paper.

Outside the courthouse, a crowd of cheering, squealing fans waited for the 39-year-old actor in the dark hemp suit. They carried hand-lettered signs that said “We Support Hemp.”

The decision flew in the face of a law passed by the General Assembly in 1992 and upheld last March by a unanimous state Supreme Court.

It also ended a case that began on June 1, 1996, when Harrelson wielded a grubbing hoe to challenge the law, which does not distinguish between marijuana and hemp. The latter contains only a minute amount of the psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana smokers a high. Harrelson won initially in lower courts, but the state’s high court overturned the ruling. That set up yesterday’s trial, in which Harrelson faced up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.

Former Gov. Louie Nunn, one of Harrelson’s four attorneys, challenged the law in his closing argument when he held up a candy bar made from hemp seeds, then took a small bite.

“Now I’ve got it in me and I’ve got it on me,” he said. “If you think Mr. Harrelson should be put in jail for one year or one week or even one night, I guess we’ll be there together.”

Lee County Attorney Tom Jones said a videotape of Harrelson holding out the seeds before planting them, and his repeated statements that he was challenging the law, proved he knew he was committing a crime.

He asked the jury to convict the actor and give him the maximum fine and at least 30 days in jail.

“Mr. Harrelson has this coming,” Jones said. “He misused his fame.”

Jones also tried to suggest that Harrelson had another motive: Using legalized hemp as a steppingstone to legalized marijuana.

Harrelson testified that he supports legalizing marijuana, but said “it’s a totally separate issue.”

Jones said afterward that he respected the jury’s decision. He said Harrelson is a likable person. But he also said, “he’s guilty as sin.”

Nunn said he has never seen any of Harrelson’s movies and didn’t meet him until Tuesday. He said he took the case for free because he supports hemp as a crop for Kentucky farmers.

He told jurors that the authors of the Constitution set up the jury system as a safeguard against bad laws or biased judges.

“What’s important here today is to see the blessings of liberty guaranteed in the Constitution are carried out,” he said.

“What you do here today will go out all over this nation. It will say whether justice will prevail.”

Harrelson’s appearance in Beattyville created a stir. He was mobbed by autograph-seekers during several breaks in the trial.

They included Sylvia Sparks and her daughter, Teanna Glass, both of Beattyville.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen an actor up close,” Sparks said. “I saw Patrick Swayze when he was here, but that was from a distance. This was close.”

“I love all his movies,” Glass said.

After the verdict, Harrelson said that as the jury came back he was worried he might be heading to jail.

“Technically, I guess I violated the law from what the Supreme Court says the law is,” he said.

His hemp battle in Kentucky is over, Harrelson said. He turned the fight over to Nunn, who said that some legislators who support hemp have “political apprehensions” about voting for it.

Charles Beal II, another of Harrelson’s attorneys, suggested the law might still be changed to allow hemp cultivation in Kentucky.

“When the law changes, Woody would be the first to come back and plant it legally,” he said.

Copyright © 2000, The Lexington Herald-Leader. All rights reserved.

Beattyville, Kentucky — A Lee County jury acquitted actor Woody Harrelson on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession yesterday, ending his four-year court battle to get the state to differentiate between hemp and marijuana.

The six-member jury deliberated about 25 minutes yesterday before returning with its verdict.

Harrelson, who spent much of the day signing hundreds of autographs, could have been sentenced to a year in jail and fined $500 if convicted.

“I had the opportunity to talk to some of the jurors afterward, and, regardless of what the Supreme Court says and regardless of what the legislators say, those people don’t think it’s right that someone should go to jail for growing industrial hemp,” Harrelson said. “To me, they’re sending out a very strong message.”

He planted four hemp seeds in 1996, knowing he would be arrested, so he could challenge the law outlawing possession of any part of the cannabis plant.

Through three courts, he had argued that the statute is unconstitutional because it does not distinguish between marijuana and hemp. Hemp contains only minute amounts of the narcotic substance that makes marijuana smokers high, tetra-hydro-canna-binol (THC).

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in March that there is no difference between hemp and its narcotic cousin, and it declared that Harrelson had to return to Lee District Court for trial.

Harrelson, 39, starred in the films “Natural Born Killers” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt” but is best known to many for his bartending role in the ’80s television series “Cheers.”

“I honestly didn’t know which way it was going to go, and I was very nervous,” he said. “When they said, “Not guilty,” I actually cried a little bit.”

“I was afraid. There was a very real possibility of going to jail. Technically, I guess I violated the law, according to what the Supreme Court said.”

Former Gov. Louie Nunn, who was on Harrelson’s defense team, said he had expected the verdict.

“Now it’s time to start promoting the growth of hemp so we can have a great economic future in Kentucky,” Nunn said. “We need to educate people about the distinction between marijuana and hemp.”

“We’re already losing tobacco and farmers are suffering, and this would be an alternative crop.”

Each side called several witnesses, and the jurors were shown a videotape of Harrelson planting the seeds June 1, 1996.

Lee County Attorney Tom Jones asked the jury during closing arguments to fine Harrelson the maximum $500 and give him at least 30 days in jail.

“He created this whole mess himself,” Jones said. “He came here to break the law. There’s no question about that.”

“He’s got this coming. He misused his fame.”

Juror Sylvia Caldwell said there was no doubt in her mind that Harrelson was innocent.

“The state just didn’t have any proof,” she said. “Even on the videotape, we couldn’t tell if anything was planted.”

Hemp was once one of the state’s leading crops. In the 1800s it was used to make rope and sails, but anti-drug laws, the availability of other fibers and the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 wiped out production in this country.

Copyright © 2000, The Courier Journal. All rights reserved.

Beattyville, Kentucky – A jury acquitted actor Woody Harrelson of misdemeanor marijuana possession charges Thursday, ending his four-year court battle to get the state to differentiate between hemp and marijuana.

Harrelson planted four hemp seeds in 1996, knowing he would be arrested, so he could challenge a law outlawing possession of any part of the cannabis plant. The jurors deliberated about 25 minutes before finding him innocent.

“Regardless of what the Supreme Court says and regardless of what the legislators say, those people don’t think it’s right that someone should go to jail for growing industrial hemp,” Harrelson said.

The Kentucky Supreme Court cleared the way for a trial when it ruled in March that there is no difference between the narcotic marijuana and its botanical cousin, hemp, which contains only minute amounts of the substance that makes marijuana smokers high, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

Lee County Attorney Tom Jones asked the jury to fine Harrelson the maximum $500 and give him at least 30 days in the county jail because the actor misused his fame to break the law.

“He could have come here and talked about school violence or domestic violence and tried to bring attention to those problems. Instead, he came here and broke a drug law,” Jones said.

Harrelson, who starred in “Natural Born Killers,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and the TV series “Cheers,” is a longtime environmental activist. He has invested in a hemp clothing company and argues that if paper manufacturers used hemp, there would be no need to cut down so many trees.

Hemp was once one of Kentucky’s leading crops. In the 1800s it was used to make rope and sails, but anti-drug laws, the availability of other fibers and the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 wiped out most legal production of hemp in the United States.

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

Lexington, Kentucky — Guilty or innocent? On August 25th, on the day after Woody Harrelson stands trial, the actor/environmentalist will appear on Court TV with Catherine Crier discussing the outcome of his court case in which he challenged Kentucky law that includes hemp within its definition of marijuana. Former Kentucky Governor Louie B. Nunn, Harrelson’s attorney, will appear with him on the nationally televised program at 12:30 pm (EST).

Four years ago Woody Harrelson orchestrated his own arrest in Beattyville, Kentucky when he planted four seeds of low THC industrial hemp. His arrest was ruled to be unconstitutional by two lower courts in the state. However, last spring the Kentucky State Supreme Court ruled that Harrelson would have to stand trial, stating that hemp in fact is included in the marijuana statute.

Hemp was Kentucky’s largest agricultural cash crop for over a century and the state led the nation in hemp production during the 19th and 20th Century.

Harrelson says, “These are strange times when drug enforcement decides the American farmer cannot grow a crop that could revolutionize the economy simply because it bears a resemblance to another plant that makes you euphoric.”

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