Hemp: We Know it’s Illegal, but Why?

Have you ever gotten high from smoking hemp? The answer would be no. Hemp, a cousin of the marijuana plant, does not contain enough THC (the chemical that causes a high) to attain the desired high. The only experience a person could have resulting from smoking hemp would be getting very, very sick. Since hemp is by no means a narcotic, many people question why it is illegal. In fact, so many people have opposed the ban on growing hemp in the United States that there is a new bill lifting the ban on growing hemp, recently passed by Congress.

A wallet made from hemp. Photo From: ebay.com
A wallet made from hemp.
Photo From: ebay.com

Hemp is a very useful and versatile plant. Hemp can be used as a food, fabric, fuel, oil, and pulp for paper. Hemp seeds are far more nutritious than soybeans and are high in B-vitamins and dietary fiber. Hemp fiber is stronger and insulates more than cotton fiber so it is an excellent material for fabric. Hemp is a perfect candidate for biofuels, which will reduce overall consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power. Hemp is also a highly sustainable crop since it can grow without herbicides and pesticides, as a crop it also produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis. Since the benefits of hemp are so great it only makes sense to legalize the growth of hemp in America on a federal level.

A hemp image created from words.
Image From: Starseeds.net

Surprisingly, hemp has had a long and illustrious history in America. In fact, two of the most famous men in American history grew hemp. If both Washington and Jefferson thought growing hemp was a good idea, modern America should take a hint. Hemp started to get a bad reputation in the United States when Congress passed the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, which began the era of hemp prohibition. The Tax Act made growing hemp unprofitable for American farmers, and was promoted by Harry Anslinger, a Senator, who was notorious for his anti-marijuana campaign (Rense.com). World War II changed the fate of hemp growth in America yet again, and during this time period U.S. farmers were encouraged to grow as much hemp as possible in order to aid the war effort. However, the end of the war also ushered in the end of hemp growth in America.

Today hemp is no longer acknowledged as different from marijuana. This is due to the Controlled Substances Act of 179, which clumps marijuana and hemp together as banned substances. Unfortunately the CSA is law and growing hemp is illegal, but hopefully this archaic statute is up for a positive revision. On Tuesday February 4th, Congress passed a bill that will allow 10 states to grow hemp. The bill is awaiting President Obama’s signature and if implemented this program will be used as a pilot for hemp growing programs. If the results are positive the ban on hemp growth in every state could potentially be lifted. In 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million of hemp products. The opportunity to grow hemp in America seems too good to pass up. We obviously have a market for hemp and our economy could use a new industry to boost production, (Aljazeera America).

April Martin-Hansen, a sophomore at SLV believes that the federal government should give hemp a second chance. “Hemp is such a beneficial product, I have no idea why there is a ban on hemp production. In fact there is no good reason why hemp growth should be banned. Hemp is beneficial for everyone.” I agree with April, hemp is beneficial for everyone. It is a sustainable alternative to cotton and it has a variety of different uses. Hemp is not just for eco-crazy hippies anymore. Hemp is for anyone who believes in good alternatives and the positive agricultural and industrial growth of America.

-Katrina Luque

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