Hemp Backers Try to Escape Shadow of Marijuana

Hemp is not marijuana, but its resemblance to its cannabis cousin has kept the plant banned in the United States for decades despite many uses for textiles, food, cosmetics and other purposes.

Now, hemp is getting support from US lawmakers and others who argue legalization of industrial hemp would have broad economic benefits.

The plant provides seeds rich in protein and nutritious Omega-3 fats. Its oils are useful for cosmetics and cleaning products, and its fibers are used for rope, clothing, auto body panels and building materials. Hemp also has potential as a biofuel to replace petroleum.

But hemp’s future has been clouded by the movement to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, which has succeeded in several states, even though hemp advocates argue that the two issues are unrelated.

Some say the marijuana effort has hurt the movement to legalize industrial hemp, which is a member of the cannabis sativa family but without the active narcotic ingredient that characterizes marijuana.

“The biggest misconception is that if you allow hemp farming you are allowing marijuana farming,” said Adam Eidinger, a spokesman for Vote Hemp, the lobbying arm for the US hemp industry, and owner of a store in the US capital selling hemp products.

“This is an agricultural issue … We think there is a billion-dollar crop being kept out of the hands of farmers by the government.”

In Congress, some two dozen lawmakers are sponsoring a bill to reverse the ban on industrial hemp. The measure was introduced by Representative Barney Frank, the powerful head of the financial services committee, and Ron Paul, a libertarian on the other end of the political spectrum.

Paul said recently that US policy mistakenly lumps hemp with marijuana even though the former contains less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.

Read full story here.


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    Editor: Joseph Klare (The Pothead Pundit)
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