Nevadans for Hemp

University of Nevada looking to research hemp as biomass energy source

Hemp growing in Manitoba, Canada
Hemp growing in Manitoba, Canada (by Photo by Scott T. Samson)

According to the Las Vegas Sun, hempsters in the Silver State have filed a petition seeking to allow the University of Nevada's Desert Research Institute to research the use of industrial hemp as a source for sustainable biomass energy.

Nevada voters twice have sought to legalize and tax-and-regulate marijuana – ballot initiatives that gained broad support yet ultimately lost at the polls (in 2006, the measure earned the nod of 44% of voters). Although hemp is the non-narcotic cousin of pot, Nevada law defines marijuana as "all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis," which (unfortunately, and, really, incorrectly) includes agricultural hemp.

Apparently folks at the DRI aren't opposed to the suggestion – a spokesman told the daily that they already are studying wood chips, pinyon pine and peanut shells as possible energy sources. Hemp could be "another biomass," spokesman Greg Bortolin told the paper.

Initiative petition backers need to gather 58,628 signatures of registered voters before Nov. 11, in order to have a chance to change the law next year. If they succeed, the daily reports, the petition would be presented to lawmakers in 2009, who would have 40 days to approve or reject the proposal. If they reject it, the language would appear on a 2010 ballot.

Even if the measure passes, however, Nevadans will still have to contend with the feds. To date, the Drug Enforcement Administration is sticking to its increasingly indefensible position that pot and hemp are the same thing. Indeed, the DEA has so far thwarted attempts by North Dakota lawmakers to reauthorize hemp farming there, where lawmakers have developed a regulatory scheme akin to the successful model adopted by Canada in 1997.

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industrial hemp, marijuana, DEA

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