FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Let It Grow

Congressman Ron Paul introduced H.R. 1831, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011” on May 11th of this year. It is a simple bill at just two pages in length, and it would legalize the growing of industrial hemp in the United States.

Currently farmers can grow industrial hemp only if they have received a permit from the DEA – a prospect that the agency has made all but impossible for decades. Otherwise, it is illegal to grow.

Although Rep. Paul has introduced several bills like this one in the past, there are several reasons that this bill should be passed now. Hemp has an amazing number of uses. Its fiber can be used in carpeting, home furnishings, construction materials, auto parts, textiles, and paper. Its seeds can be used in food, industrial oils, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. There are assertions, reported by The Guardian and in Biodiesel Magazine that using industrial hemp in biofuels instead of crops like corn and other feedstock provide greater environmental benefits. The expansion of industrial hemp as a feedstock for biofuels could also help to reduce oil imports.

Not only does hemp have a wide range of uses, but its cultivation in the United States could help to spur our lagging economy. Since the cultivation of hemp is outlawed in the United States, the U.S. market for hemp and hemp-based products is entirely dependent upon imports. A 2010 Congressional Research Service report cited an estimate that the U.S. market for hemp-based products may exceed $350 million annually.

A ban on the agricultural production of hemp simply doesn’t make sense. Farmers in places like Iowa could benefit greatly from the production of industrial hemp. In a crippling recession, unemployed Americans could receive a boost from such an emerging industry, from farm to value-added businesses. And many firms here in the United States that sell hem–based products would reap the benefits.

Currently they import their hemp from places like Canada, China, or France, which can increase their costs from 10 to 15 percent or more. As the only remaining developed nation in which the production of industrial hemp is not permitted, the United States is not only missing out on a large – and growing – global market, but limiting the livelihoods of farmers, processors and fabricators.

Industrial hemp could benefit our environment greatly. A range of studies have shown the benefits: hemp can thrive with minimal – or even without – herbicides, it reinvigorates the soil, and it requires less water than crops like cotton. Furthermore, it could prevent the deforestation of large portions of the U.S. landscape and presents significant benefits compared with wood in the production of paper. Industrial hemp matures in three to four months. It takes years for trees to grow. It can also yield four times as much paper per acre as trees.

Critics of industrial hemp may point to its relation to marijuana in order to claim that if one smokes industrial hemp, they can become high. Although industrial hemp and marijuana share the same species, cannabis sativa, industrial hemp is genetically and chemically different. Industrial hemp, at most, contains one third of 1 percent THC, the drug that produces a psychoactive effect in marijuana. However, marijuana is often between 10 and 30 percent THC. Smoking industrial hemp will not make an individual high.

The DEA will claim that growing industrial hemp next to marijuana may serve to impede law enforcement against the latter. However, countries that have legal cultivation of industrial hemp do not have similar problems. Furthermore, since industrial hemp has such little THC, growing it next to marijuana would only serve to dilute by cross pollinations the illegal marijuana plants – something no marijuana grower wants.

Industrial hemp has a distinguished history in this country dating before the revolution and its founding. The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew industrial hemp on their farms. During World War II, hemp was used to make very strong rope and the Department of Agriculture made a film, “Hemp for Victory” to encourage its cultivation.

Despite the importance of this issue, we rarely see it discussed in the headlines or by political candidates. Farmers in Iowa could benefit greatly from the cultivation of industrial hemp. Citizens in Iowa, who have the ear of presidential hopefuls, have an opportunity to move this issue back into the spotlight during the December 10th Republican Presidential Primary debate.

Let’s hope Congressman Paul and his fellow candidates agree that it is time to allow farmers in Iowa and other states to once again start growing industrial hemp.

Jeff Musto of CSRL contributed to this article.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

August 13, 2020
Vijay Prashad
Why a Growing Force in Brazil Is Charging That President Jair Bolsonaro Has Committed Crimes Against Humanity
Brett Wilkins
Teaching Torture: The Death and Legacy of Dan Mitrione
Joseph Scalia III
Yellowstone Imperiled by Compromise
Binoy Kampmark
Don’t Stigmatise the Nuke! Opponents of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty
Margot Rathke
The Stimulus Deal Should Include Free College
Thomas Knapp
America Doesn’t Have Real Presidential Debates, But It Should
George Ochenski
Time to Face – and Plan for – Our Very Different Future
Ted Rall
Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential Pick is … ZZZZZ
Purusottam Thakur
‘If We Don’t Work, Who’ll Produce the Harvest?’
Robert Dreyfuss
October Surprise: Will War with Iran Be Trump’s Election Eve Shocker?
Gary Leupp
The RCP, Fascism, and Chairman Bob’s Endorsement of Biden for President
James Haught
The Pandemic Disproves God
Robert Koehler
Election Theft and the Reluctant Democracy
August 12, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s War On Arms Control and Disarmament
P. Sainath
“We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough”: When Normal is the Problem
Riva Enteen
Kamala Harris? Really? Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
Kenneth Surin
The Decrepit UK Political System
Robert Hunziker
Freakish Arctic Fires Alarmingly Intensify
Ramzy Baroud
The Likud Conspiracy: Israel in the Throes of a Major Political Crisis
Sam Pizzigati
Within Health Care USA, Risk and Reward Have Never Been More Out of Kilter
John Perry
The US Contracts Out Its Regime Change Operation in Nicaragua
Binoy Kampmark
Selective Maritime Rules: The United States, Diego Garcia and International Law
Manuel García, Jr.
The Improbability of CO2 Removal From the Atmosphere
Khury Petersen-Smith
The Road to Portland: The Two Decades of ‘Homeland Security’
Raouf Halaby
Teaching Palestinian Children to Love Beethoven, Bizet, and Mozart is a Threat to a Depraved Israeli Society
Jeff Mackler
Which Way for Today’s Mass Radicalization? Capitalism’s Impending Catastrophe…or a Socialist Future
Tom Engelhardt
It Could Have Been Different
Stephen Cooper
Santa Davis and the “Stalag 17” Riddim
August 11, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
Why Capitalism is in Constant Conflict With Democracy
Paul Street
Defund Fascism, Blue and Orange
Richard C. Gross
Americans Scorned
Andrew Levine
Trump and Biden, Two Ignoble Minds Here O’erthrown
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Nationalism Has Led to the Increased Repression of Minorities
Sonali Kolhatkar
Trump’s Presidency is a Death Cult
Colin Todhunter
Pushing GMO Crops into India: Experts Debunk High-Level Claims of Bt Cotton Success
Valerie Croft
How Indigenous Peoples are Using Ancestral Organizing Practices to Fight Mining Corporations and Covid-19
David Rovics
Tear Gas Ted Has a Tantrum in Portland
Dean Baker
There is No Evidence That Generous Unemployment Benefits are Making It Difficult to Find Workers
Robert Fantina
War on Truth: How Kashmir Struggles for Freedom of Press
Dave Lindorff
Trump Launches Attack on Social Security and Medicare
Elizabeth Schmidt
COVID-19 Poses a Huge Threat to Stability in Africa
Parth M.N.
Coping With a Deadly Virus, a Social One, Too
Thomas Knapp
The “Election Interference” Fearmongers Think You’re Stupid
Binoy Kampmark
Mealy-Mouthed Universities: Academic Freedom and the Pavlou Problem Down Under
Mike Garrity
Emperor Trump Loses Again in the Northern Rockies in Big Win for Bull Trout, Rivers and the ESA
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail