Hemp Hemp Hoorah!

Oregon poised to be ninth state legalizing hemp farming

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

Oregon is poised to join the growing number of states that have reauthorized industrial hemp farming -- the environmentally-friendly, non-narcotic cousin of marijuana. On Monday, lawmakers there overwhelmingly voted in favor of the legalization measure, which now awaits the signature of Gov. Ted Kulongoski. If signed, Oregon would become the ninth state to remove legal barriers to its production.

Reefer Madness has written extensively about the growing movement to reintroduce hemp farming, once a staple of the American agricultural landscape, so I won't go over and over the virtues of the crop again here.

Still, it is worth revisiting several key points -- including the fact that the only reason -- only, only, only reason -- the crop is illegal to grow in the U.S. is that the Drug Enforcement Administration stands steadfast in maintaining that because hemp is the same plant as marijuana, it must be dope, and dope, as you know, is illegal. Alternately, they argue that allowing farmers to plant hemp would help pot growers hide their crop -- this argument is just bull; because of cross-pollination, any pot grown amid a sea of hemp would become completely useless as a drug.

But facts have never stopped the DEA from standing in the way of this agricultural enterprise -- in fact, for years they've been using taxpayer funds to fight farmers in North Dakota (not exactly a land of pot-smoking hippie freaks) who are seeking to add hemp to their rotation of crops. That case is pending.

Now Oregon is poised to join the eight states that have already removed legal barriers to hemp production -- a crop that can be used not only for food and clothing, but also has a host of industrial uses (think automotive parts) and can be used as a renewal source of energy (think biofuel). With Oregon in the mix, a total of 17 states have now passed pro-hemp legislation.

Currently, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a hemp crop, meaning the hemp products used and sold in America are made entirely from imported plant -- much of it from China.

How many more states will have to jump on board before the Obama Administration takes action to reign in the DEA?

I guess we'll have to wait and see....

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