Industrial Hemp Struggles With Marijuana Stigma
As the issue of legalizing marijuana remains complicated and highly controversial, a lesser-known yet increasingly significant side effect continues to transpire in the background: the suppression of its incredibly useful and diverse distant cousin, industrial hemp. Both marijuana and hemp have a long history in the United States. Unfortunately, because both plants are from the cannabis species, hemp was pigeonholed into a “dangerous drug” classification along with marijuana, representing the beginning of the end for hemp as a major agricultural asset to the United States. Industrial hemp contains no psychotropic qualities that create a “high” like marijuana. Considering that hemp’s unique qualities can help solve some of our country’s major problems, it becomes increasingly ridiculous that it remains off limits due to ignorance and poor lawmaking. The United States government needs to create a legal distinction between marijuana and industrial hemp. The time is now to fully legalize and endorse the cultivation of industrial hemp for the benefit of this country, its people, and the planet as whole. The tremendous irony of hemp being outlawed in America begins to surface upon examining the fundamental role hemp played in the early formation and growth of this country. The first hemp laws in America were passed in 1619 and they were “must grow” laws. In great contrast to the legality of hemp cultivation today, if you were a farmer living in America back then, and you did not grow hemp, you could be jailed or kicked out of the country as non patriot. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their plantations. Benjamin Franklin started one of America’s earliest paper mills with hemp (Herer 4). Early in the twentieth century, Henry Ford talked about the importance of transitioning away from America’s dependence on fossil fuels. Ford was an advocate and early proponent of sustainability,...
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