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10 Great Reasons to Kill Our Absurd Ban on Growing Hemp

The only people who oppose the cultivation of industrial hemp are anti-cannabis bureaucracies, politicians, drug-testing companies and U.S. law enforcement.

America's industrial ban on hemp is "a poster child for dumb regulation," argues lazy ass pothead!  Wait, sorry, scratch that. Make that Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, introducing an amendment  last week  to the densely contested  2012 Farm Bill, which is either a  subsidies and sustainability savior or callous food austerity, depending on who you ask. But if you ask Wyden, "the best possible Farm Bill" is one that repeals a ban on industrial hemp the United States is already quite busy, and expensively, importing from the few feet it takes to cross the Canadian border.

"I will be urging my colleagues to support this amendment,"  Wyden announced last week on the Senate floor, reminding the assembled elected that his plan won't cost American taxpayers a dime. "I want [them] to know I will be back at this again until there are smarter regulations in place."

"America needs to get real about  hemp, and fast, even if the country continues to fight about ending  cannabis prohibition," National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws ( NORML) executive director Allen St. Pierre told AlterNet. "There is virtually no one on earth who intellectually opposes farmers cultivating industrial hemp, other than anti-cannabis bureaucracies, politicians, drug testing companies and the U.S. law enforcement community."

That's some stacked opposition. But the list below provides more than enough firepower for encouraging an overdue repeal of the ban on industrial hemp, cannabis sativa's low- THC strain. 

1. We're buying hemp from Canada anyway. Maybe we should just burn money, too? "We're already importing a crop that the U.S. farmer could be profitably growing right here at home, if not for government rules prohibiting it," Wyden argued, reminding listeners that in 2010, Canada subsidized its hemp industry with over $700,000 more in funding, increased crop sizes and "fortified the inroads the Canadians are making in U.S. markets at the expense of our farmers." All while our hemp imports have grown 300 percent in the last decade, and 35 percent since 2009. Meanwhile, Canada's cropland devoted to industrial hemp doubled from 2011 to 2012, Wyden added, remarking that his local Portlanders who manufacture hemp products are doing brisk business, thanks very much.

2. Everyone is growing hemp and laughing at us. Besides Canada, Australia is enjoying an agricultural rebound because of hemp production. Over 30 countries permit its production, and as usual, resourceful China is the world's largest producer with nearly 80 percent of global tonnage. Instructively, China has been around for thousands of years, so who on Earth is going to tell them shit about the future? Not the United States, which remains the only industrialized nation to forbid its farmers from growing industrial hemp. Cue the giggle track.

"Canada, France, China, Russia and the United Kingdom all have cannabis prohibition laws in place," St. Pierre told AlterNet. "And yet, they still allow their farmers to cultivate and prosper from industrial hemp." Speaking of...

3. We're not talking about cannabis here. But who cares if we were? Both should be legalized anyway, and everyone knows it. But even cannabis paranoiacs need to chill: THC levels of hemp are under .03 percent, which couldn't get a tobacco lobbyist high. Under Wyden's amendment, hemp production would be regulated, but by the individual states' permitting processes rather than the federal government that has made a  Kafkaesque mess of medical cannabis. Nine states have already put similar legislation in place. 

"Why can't the US government and its law enforcement community be as pragmatic and practical as other countries regarding making the logical ecological and economical distinction between 'hemp' and 'cannabis'?" St. Pierre asked. "Is it that American narcs are less intelligent, or is it that they can't be as educated about hemp as police in the UK, China or Canada?"

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