You wouldn’t know it today but Hemp was once a major crop in the United States. The first US flag was made from it, and it was used for the paper on which the Declaration of Independence was printed. This is just naming a few of course, as hemp was used for countless everyday items. The crop was banned because it was a sizable threat to many industries at the time and those who had voting power did not want to see their business get hurt. Tactics to make hemp out to be a very dangerous drug began in order to shape public opinion. What many did not know was that hemp and marijuana (containing much more THC) were two different plant strains and hemp could not get someone high. More on Hemp becoming illegal here.
Although hemp has been illegal for many years, is it possible that change is in the air? Will the US make it legal once again like many other countries?
Those who recognize the power of this plant are very large advocates of hemp becoming legal once again and it is also very popular amongst the public. A recent 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service estimated that the annual US retail hemp market could exceed $300M in value. While money is not what’s important here when it comes to using this plant, the stat demonstrates the versatility of it.
Before we get into it, I always like to remind everyone that the push to make this legal is not for psychoactive purposes. While anyone should be able to smoke what they choose, hemp does not boast enough THC to get someone high very easily. One would have to smoke incredibly large amounts in a short period of time to get high.
As of right now states such as Oregon, North Dakota, Vermont, Montana and West Virginia have backed the idea of hemp becoming legal once again. In Congress, a coalition of lawmakers has formed containing right-wing Republicans and liberal Democrats who are all pushing for hemps legalization. It further goes to show the support behind hemp isn’t based on what political party you come from but instead realizing the importance this plant has for humanity. Could this be the start of the motion to legalize hemp?
Some notable mentions:
- In August of 2012, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul co-sponsored a bill with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden which would exempt Hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.
- Industrial hemp is grown in Europe, but China is the biggest producer
- Some 17 states have passed hemp-related legislation and 10 (Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia) have approved bills to remove barriers to its production.
As you might imagine, the key obstacle remains the federal authorities. Hemp cannot be grown without a DEA permit. While awareness is growing at lower levels of government, it seems to be squashed the closer it gets to the top. It is also necessary to mention that before any government or state could make hemp legal once again, agreements would have to be made with the multinational corporations who own and run the United States beyond the government. This is where one challenge lies. Another key challenge exists within public opinion about hemp.
“‘Hemp’ is simply a term used by some to create the false impression that so-called ‘hemp’ is not the same as marijuana,” a DEA spokesman says. “In fact, under federal law, all cannabis plants (that is, all plants of the genus cannabis) are marijuana.”
This quote is a perfect example of how easy it is to reshape public opinion on the matter. While the DEA spokesperson is right in that it it still cannabis, hemp does NOT contain anywhere near enough THC to get someone high.
Many opponents of the legalization of hemp say that it would be very difficult to differentiate between the two strains of Cannabis-Sativa. Meaning, it would be difficult to tell whether or not the plant was marijuana or hemp, based on it’s appearance. It seems to be a weak argument considering the benefits of hemp which are widely discussed here and here.
While it is still difficult to say where things are headed, there is a positive movement and awareness growing. It is really only a matter of time before things change for hemp.