Hemp. The Gutenberg Bible was printed on it. It’s an ingredient in cosmetics and soaps, and you can even design clothes with it. But it’s illegal to grow it in the U.S. because Federal Law considers it a Controlled Substance, per the Controlled Substance Act. But that could soon change thanks to a bill proposing to legalize its growth.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 just got a new and unexpected supporter in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who, along with Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, is on board with legalizing industrial hemp farming. Also backing the legislation is fellow Kentuckian Senator Rand Paul.
While Congressional support for this may surprise some, McConnell and company aren’t exactly trailblazers on this front. Various states such as North Dakota, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, California, Montana, West Virginia and Vermont have all legalized growing industrial hemp. But because federal law bans growing this kind of cannabis, farmers in those states haven’t been able to start growing the substance.
So if various states think there’s some good in legalizing hemp, why has it taken the federal government so long to get with the program?
It’s because hemp is looked at as being closely related to marijuana since hemp, like weed, has THC — the ingredient in cannabis that gives people a high. The THC content in industrial hemp, though, is mere traces compared to marijuana.
Also, some legislators worry that if you legalize this kind of cannibis then that paves the way to legalizing the kind people smoke recreationally — as though that would be the worst thing in the world?
Luckily the economic pros of growing industrial hemp are outweighing social conservative hesitations lawmakers have previously held.
NBC notes that “Toyota — which builds Camrys in Kentucky — has spoken in favor of hemp legalization, saying they want to use the fibers in car panels and insulation.” Perhaps this was a key factor in motivating McConnell?
And as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer points out, “Industrial hemp became legal in Canada in 1998, after a 60-year absence, and has helped revitalize depressed timber towns in British Columbia (along with the growing of far more lucrative B.C. Bud.) The District of 100 Mile House, in interior B.C. from Ashcroft to Vanderhoof along the Fraser River, has aggressively pursued production of industrial hemp.”
Social conservatives against hemp growth (from both sides of the aisle) can put that in their pipe and smoke it!