June 28, 2005

Industrial Hemp

by Ralph Nader from his weekly column, "In The Public Interest"

Congressman Ron Paul, a libertarian from Texas and an obstetrician who has delivered over 6000 babies, is trying to deliver our farmers from a bureaucratic medievalism in Washington that keeps saying "No" to growing industrial hemp.

Many farmers want to grow this 5000 year old long fiber plant that has been turned into thousands of products since being domesticated by the ancient Chinese. That is their heresy. The enforcer is the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Washington, DC, which has placed industrial hemp on its proscribed list next to marijuana.

Detailed petitions signed by agricultural groups, agricultural commissioners, International Paper Co. and others were presented to both Clinton and Bush to take industrial hemp off the DEA list and let the states allow farmers to grow it. The DEA turned the petitions down cold.

The arguments for this great, sturdy and environmentally benign plant are legion. In over 30 countries where it is commercially grown, including Canada, France, China and Romania, industrial hemp has been used to produce hemp food, hemp fuel, hemp paper, hemp cloth, hemp cosmetics, hemp carpet and even hemp door frames (Ford and Mercedes).

Factories, food stores and paper manufacturers are free to import raw hemp or finished hemp materials from foreign countries. Last year, about $250 million worth of hemp products were purchased from abroad. But federal law in the US prohibits farmers or anyone else from growing it on US soil.

click here for all of it

Why, after hearing all the reasons why growing industrial hemp is practical, does Congress keep turning its back on it? There's always this:

There are those like former CIA chief, James Woolsey, who support growing hemp to reduce our reliance on imported oil. More broadly, industrial hemp advances the growth of a carbohydrate-based economy instead of a hydrocarbon-based economy.

Could it be because many people in our government are in the oil business? Or is it because of the many fools in our government who still believe in this "War on Drugs" who falsley see hemp as another name for marijuana? Whatever the reason, its costing the American people money and air quality, and its just one area of many where our government is not helping us.

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