Is Kentucky Close To Growing Hemp Again?


Hemp in Kentucky

My friend Alan Tracy sent me a link this afternoon, with the comment, “Big News!” (A great followup to yesterday’s post!)

This is from the website of Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (http://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=f0db455a-2152-4e7a-9ccd-358fb7f2f9bd)

Here is what it says

Jan 31 2013

Industrialized Hemp Will Help Spur Economic Growth and Create Jobs in Kentucky

Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement today regarding industrialized hemp and its impact on Kentucky:

“After long discussions with Senator Rand Paul and Commissioner James Comer on the economic benefits of industrialized hemp, I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy. Commissioner Comer has assured me that his office is committed to pursuing industrialized hemp production in a way that does not compromise Kentucky law enforcement’s marijuana eradication efforts or in any way promote illegal drug use. The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times that sounds like a good thing to me.”

A commitment to pursue a crop that can help our economy, our planet, and our health – that IS great news!

Let’s hope that Kentucky can get BACK to growing hemp, as it did 150 years ago.  It looks as if it is going in the right direction – again!

photo credit: jimmywayne via photopin cc

Great News!


hemp field

Yes, this IS great news!

Many of you are aware that Colorado has legalized the use of hemp.

A farmer in Colorado, who owns 3,000 acres of farmland, will use 100 of those acres to start growing industrial hemp. His first crop will be used to produce food-grade hempseed oil. This project will be good to gain understanding of the viability of hemp farming in the U.S.

On the other hand, there are those who are AGAINST the hemp farming. According to the Richmond Register, local law enforcement OPPOSES the farming. Their argument? “Dan Smoot, of the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police and president of Operation UNITE, a drug education, treatment and enforcement organization working in eastern Kentucky, said supporters are looking “through rose-colored glasses if they believe hemp production would be a good alternative crop or provide an economic boon.”

He said there isn’t a great demand for the crop, and legalizing its production “would create more problems than benefits and is currently not permitted under federal law.””

Also,

““It is impossible to distinguish between hemp and marijuana with the naked eye,” KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer said.”

Here are my key arguments: There is a distinguishable difference between hemp and marijuana. Other countries, where hemp farming is legal, have no problem telling the difference between the 2 plants. Hemp farming WOULD provide an economic boom, because of the need for clean fuels, environmentally healthy crops for textiles and plastics and building materials, and  healthy food.

It is my hope that the Federal government does NOT interfere and allow the farming of hemp. This is an excellent start to get BACK to the crop that supported our nation a century ago.

photo credit: higgott via photopin cc

Washington State Passes Cannabis Legalization Initiative 502


November 6 2012 – a day that will go down in history. Not only was it a very close presidential election (following one of the most aggressive campaigns I can ever remember), but it was also an opportunity for 4 states to approve Marriage Equality (my sister can now marry in our home state!) AND Colorado and Washington approved the legalization of cannabis.

Colorado and Washington have each defined cannabis in their own way, but they basically make the same point. In Washington State, there will be a 1 year period in which to decide on the rules and regulations.

Almost 40 years ago a group called Blossom Seattle was able to put the cannabis issue on a ballot.  20 years after Blossom Seattle we saw the inception of Seattle Hempfest, the world’s largest 3-day hemp rally, with over a quarter million attendees each year – and growing.  Our progressive state is making strides and making history – we have legalized a plant that helps many patients, even those with cancer; we have not given up in decriminalizing one of the safest medicines on the planet.

Now, why is this so important to industrial hemp lovers like myself? Initiative 502 opens the door wider toward the next progressive step – allowing industrial hemp farming. Will it happen overnight? No. Because this plant will be heavily regulated, it will take time, and hopefully much ‘adult conversation’ and the realization that this is what we need for our planet, to heal the soil, to provide healthy, organic foods, and to slow down or reverse global warming. Big oil, pharma, and the chemical industries will fight it…but the will of the people is strong. And the need for clean energy and clean products is strong.

How will the federal government respond? Well, technically, the federal level still overrides the state level decisions as far as cannabis is concerned. It remains to be seen if they will take this to the Supreme Court. But for now, we’ve taken an important step on the path to full cannabis and hemp legalization.

Next step – hemp farms? Let’s hope so.

Hemp – A Cash Crop For Medicine, Food, And Shelter


The 1938 Edition of Popular Mechanics called hemp The New Billion Dollar Crop. (You can see the article here: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/popmech1.htm)

Unfortunately, the Billion Dollar Crop was not meant to be. Randolph Hearst’s newspapers depended on wood (he owned several sawmills) and his investments in timber would be threatened. DuPont’s chemicals were also a factor, in that they were used with the wood pulp to create the paper. Hemp was a threat to timber, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and oil.

What exactly is a cash crop? A cash crop is a crop grown for direct sale, as opposed to being grown for the farmer’s use (livestock feed, etc.). Before prohibition, hemp WAS  a cash crop. Hemp was used for food, textiles, fuel, medicine, and housing. It was also used as money. People could pay their taxes with hemp!

Hemp can produce ten times the methanol as corn. Crop rotation is not necessary, as the hemp enriches the soil on its own. It does not need pesticides or herbicides.

Up until the 20th century, hemp WAS the largest cash crop in America.

Today there is a movement to get BACK to hemp. Hemp farming is legal in several states, but getting the permits from the DEA is next to impossible. Farmers WANT to grow hemp. With over 50,000 products that can be produce from hemp, it IS the perfect choice.

Hemp fibers are the longest and strongest in the plant kingdom. Hemp fabric lasts longer than cotton and is less chemical and water intensive.

Hempseeds and hempseed oil are an excellent nutrition source, with the perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega fatty acids, easily digestible proteins, and other nutrients needed for optimum health.

Hemp fuel is safe and clean.

Hemp used in construction means cleaner, stronger structures – and structures made from hemp are carbon neutral; in some cases they are carbon negative.

Hemp fabric and clothing are becoming more popular; hemp foods are found in health food stores, food co-ops, and some grocery stores.

Hemp plastics and automobile components are becoming more popular as well.

Most of the hemp imported into the U.S. comes from Canada and China. New figures show that the U.S. spends more than $300,000,000 per year on hemp products – both finished products and raw hemp.

In Kentucky, lawmakers are promoting hemp as a cash crop.

Willie Nelson, in the following video, explains why hemp farming should be restored to the U.S.

The hemp market is GLOBAL. Imagine if the U.S. could put farmers to work, growing cash crops of hemp, and having the ability to be a SUPPLIER of hemp world-wide. It truly WOULD be a billion dollar crop.

The White House (Kerlikowske’s) Response To Hemp Farming Petition: “Hemp Is Marijuana, Thus A Schedule 1 Controlled Substance” (Paraphrased)


 

Yes, that is what he said. Here are excerpts and my added responses.

The petition, “Allow Growing of Hemp,” sent to the White House, has received a reply. Gil Kerlikowske, former Seattle Police Chief and now “Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy” had this to say:

America’s farmers deserve our Nation’s help and support to ensure rural America’s prosperity and vitality. Federal law prohibits human consumption, distribution, and possession of Schedule I controlled substances. Hemp and marijuana are part of the same species of cannabis plant. While most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all parts of the plant, including hemp, can contain THC, a Schedule I controlled substance. The Administration will continue looking for innovative ways to support farmers across the country while balancing the need to protect public health and safety.

First of all, hemp and marijuana are 2 different plants. The THC level in industrial hemp is less than 1%, sometimes even .03%. To try to extract the miniscule, almost non-existent amounts in industrial hemp would be so time consuming and extensive that it would not even be worth the effort.

What We Have to Say About Legalizing Marijuana
When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug’s effects.

According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health- the world’s largest source of drug abuse research – marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment. We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms. Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20’s. Simply put, it is not a benign drug.

Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.” (Kerlikowske)

For years the government has done studies and research into the medicinal value of industrial hemp and marijuana, including the superb nutritional value of hemp and the multitude of products that can be processed from hemp.

“In the new study, which was published in the The Journal of The American Medical Association and financed by the National Institutes of Health, roughly 5,100 men and women in four cities – Oakland, Calif.; Chicago; Minneapolis; and Birmingham – were interviewed and given lung function tests repeatedly over 20 years. They were on average about age 25 at the start, and more than half smoked marijuana, cigarettes or both.

The researchers found that for moderate marijuana smokers, an exposure of up to seven “joint years” — with one joint-year equivalent to smoking 365 joints or filled pipes, or an average of one joint a day for seven years — did not worsen pulmonary function.” (nytimes.com)

As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.

That is why the President’s National Drug Control Strategy is balanced and comprehensive, emphasizing prevention and treatment while at the same time supporting innovative law enforcement efforts that protect public safety and disrupt the supply of drugs entering our communities. Preventing drug use is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. And, as we’ve seen in our work through community coalitions across the country, this approach works in making communities healthier and safer. We’re also focused on expanding access to drug treatment for addicts. Treatment works. In fact, millions of Americans are in successful recovery for drug and alcoholism today. And through our work with innovative drug courts across the Nation, we are improving our criminal justice system to divert non-violent offenders into treatment.

Our commitment to a balanced approach to drug control is real. This last fiscal year alone, the Federal Government spent over $10 billion on drug education and treatment programs compared to just over $9 billion on drug related law enforcement in the U.S.

Thank you for making your voice heard. I encourage you to take a moment to read about the President’s approach to drug control to learn more.” (Kerlikowske)

So. Let’s get this straight. You, Mr. Kerlikowske, a government employee, are saying that Industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same. Yet you are a member of the same government that LEGALIZED and DEMANDED that farmers grow industrial hemp during WWII to aid in the war effort. You are a member of this United States Government that had its ROOTS in hemp cultivation, used as food, fiber, fuel, textiles, and, used to pay TAXES. Yes, hemp was the equivalent of American currency.  Our first presidents grew hemp, and knew the value of this wonderful, versatile plant. The government has studies and research proving the benefits of hemp and marijuana. You can’t deny that. It’s public knowledge.

Other countries that grow industrial hemp have no problem identifying the difference between hemp and marijuana. Two different plants – they look different and each must be grown in completely different ways. Yet, you, the government, sit back and (knowing the truth) continue to spout something different. That either makes you a really big fibber, or you really aren’t knowledgeable about hemp and marijuana. But, if the latter is the case, why in the HELL are you sitting in a seat that puts you in control of national government drug policies?

Growing Hemp – An Act Of Social Responsibility


Social responsibility is a way of acting that has a positive, ethical result or impact on society.

Throughout history, industrial hemp has had nothing but a positive impact. It is one of the most nutritionally complete food plants, it’s nutritious properties are medicinal, it is used in construction, textiles, and plastics. It is an energy source. During its growing season hemp also heals and nourishes the soil, as well as cleans the air.

The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. The first Levi Strauss jeans were made from hemp. The first Betsy Ross flag was made of hemp fabric. The first Bibles were made from hemp. Hemp was used as legal tender – one could pay their taxes with hemp. Our first presidents grew hemp. Henry Ford grew hemp, processed hemp fuel, and built a hemp car. During WWII farmers were required to grow hemp to aid in the war effort.

Hemp was desirable because of its long, strong fibers; it needed little to no fertilization or pesticide; it was clean food and clean energy.

All of that changed with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and the resulting prohibition of hemp farming without proper permits (which have been impossible to get from the DEA). Hemp was banned because it threatened the investments of oil, timber, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies. Using products that were less healthy for the environment and human health became the norm.

This is where social IRRESPONSIBILITY comes into play.

Fossil fuels – fossil fuels replaced hemp fuel and other biomass. Fossil fuels are dirtier, create more pollution, are non-renewable, and are toxic. The process of extracting and processing fossil fuels is chemical-intensive and causes large amounts of pollution. Look at fracking (hydraulic fracturing,  the process for extracting natural gas) – fracking is the process of extracting natural gas by pumping fracking chemicals into the ground. These chemicals have shown up in drinking water and soil, potentially harming the health of those who are in the vicinity of the fracking projects.

Plastics – plastics made from fossil fuel products are NOT biodegradable. They are full of chemicals that harm health and body. Plastic made from hemp IS biodegradable and recyclable.

Timber – now, I am not saying cutting forests is ALL bad, (we do need wood for buildings and furniture) but I am saying that some products made from wood can be made from hemp – cardboard, paper products, fiberboard for construction, etc. Forests take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turns it into oxygen. Massive deforestation reduces the cleaning of the air, and also affects animal habitats and causes erosion problems.

Pharmaceuticals – I am not against chemical medication as a whole, there are some instances where medication is needed to save a life or to bring someone’s health back into balance. However, it has become the norm to treat illness and disease with pills and chemicals instead of looking at the CAUSE. Proper nutrition has a big hand in health. So does eating hemp. Hemp treats, cures, slows down the incidence, and prevents many diseases and conditions, and it does so in a healthy way. There are many chemical medications that are extremely dangerous and some of them do more harm than good. We’ve become a pill-popping society, when we should be a hemp-eating, nutrition-conscious society.

Chemicals – hemp rope was replaced with nylon rope. Why was hemp rope desirable? It’s long, strong fibers and UV resistance made it perfect in that it did not break down easily. Natural fabrics were replaced with nylon and polyester, rayon, and orlon – all of which are petrochemical based. (I am not saying that you have to rush out and buy a new wardrobe, but I am saying that we need to be conscious of what we wear and where the fibers come from).

In all of the above products – chemicals, fossil fuels, timber, pharmaceuticals – we see that each one of them in some way does more harm than good. THAT is socially irresponsible.

Allowing farmers to grow hemp, and allowing hemp to take its rightful place BACK in our economy is the socially and economically responsible thing to do.

People Who Are Anti-Hemp ~ Uninformed, Unprincipled, or Just Afraid Of The Truth?


Enjoy today’s ramblings!

I used to be anti-hemp. No, really. It’s true. However, my anti-hemp stance was strictly from lack of knowledge. I didn’t even KNOW there was such thing as industrial hemp. I didn’t know that hemp and marijuana were 2 different plants. All I ‘knew’ was what I heard now and then, “Hemp is pot! Pot is bad! Hemp is marijuana! It’s immoral!” Of course, we all can see that I am now one of the Informed ones.

In order to be Informed, one must have an open mind. One must be open to new ideas, open to learning, open to study, open to see all points of view – medical, scientific, social, political, economical, etc.

Next are those who are Unprincipled. Is that harsh? Maybe, but true. There are many companies, corporations, entities, and people who are anti-hemp because hemp would threaten their investments. The pharmaceutical business makes anywhere from $18 billion to $35 billion a year. I am not anti-pharmaceutical per se, but I am anti-medicine when it is known to be dangerous, or prescribed when it doesn’t need to be – especially when there is a healthier or natural alternative such as hemp.

What about law enforcement? Again, I am not anti-law enforcement, but I AM pro-ethical/moral law enforcement. How many in law enforcement believe the propaganda? How many ‘get’ that hemp prohibition is unethical? (I am a big fan of L.E.A.P, by the way.)

Professional lobbyists are hired by corporations, groups, or individuals, and their job is to influence the official decision-makers in the government. We can be certain that investors in timber, oil, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and agriculture have lobbyists on their side making sure that hemp farming in the U.S. remains under the chains of prohibition.

Who is afraid for the Truth? It could the the Uninformed, it could be the Unprincipled, or it could be those who fear change or a return to what was once the norm.

I know people who are very set in their beliefs. Sure, beliefs are a basis of strength for some. But what happens when someone’s beliefs are challenged? “If the truth as I know it is not REALLY true, then what else is not true?” That can really shake some people up. They have to re-think their position. And some will simply stay with what they believe no matter what because change is frightening.

What we need to do is continue the hemp dialogue, continue teaching, and continue working toward the goal of ending hemp prohibition. We MUST work together to bring hemp back to where it belongs – farmed again on American soil.