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Besides being founders of our Republic, what did Thomas Jefferson and George Washington have in common? Answer: Hemp.
America’s founders were strong promoters of this extraordinarily-useful agricultural crop, and both Jefferson and Washington grew it. The first draft of our Constitution was written on hemp paper, and as late as World War II, the government urgently pushed farmers to grow the crop as part of a “Hemp for Victory” program.
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So why are American farmers today prohibited from producing this patriotic, profitable, pesticide-free plant? Political nuttiness. Most recently, in a frenzy of reefer madness, US drug police decided that President Nixon’s “Controlled Substance Act of 1970” not only outlawed marijuana, but also its non-narcotic cousin, industrial hemp. If ignorance is bliss, they must’ve been ecstatic, yet their nuttiness remains the law of our land.
The good news is that a wave of sanity is now wafting across America. In Colorado, for example, Farmer Michael Bowman and Denver hemp advocate Lynda Parker helped pass Amendment 64 in last fall’s election. It legalizes personal pot use, which got all the media attention, but it also directs the legislature to set up a program for “the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp.” Bowman now hopes to be the first American farmer in generations to plant a legal crop of it – hoping to do so on April 30th, the 80th birthday of family-farmer hero and hemp champion, Willie Nelson.
The red state of Kentucky is also on the move. Its Republican ag commissioner, backed by its chamber of commerce, is campaigning to legalize hemp farming, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is co-sponsoring a national bill with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden to take hemp off the controlled substance list.
To help spread this seed, go to www.votehemp.com.
“Email from Michael Bowman,” January 20, 2013.
“Hemp legalization effort gathers steam,” www.washingtonpost.com, January 13, 2013.
“Farmers hope to plow the way for sustainable U.S. hemp,” www.grist.org, January 15, 2013.
“Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps: Activism: Industrial Hemp,” www.drbronner.com
“Senators Introduce Bi-partisan Industrial Hemp Farming Act,” www.activistpost.com, August 4, 2013.
“Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009,” www.wikipedia.org, February 7, 2013.