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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.

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8. Hemp can help the sick. The medicinal and rehabilitative value of cannabis is already well-known, despite certain compromised parties still claiming the science isn't in. (They often have the same denialist fever about global warming.) But once the ban on industrial hemp is inevitably repealed, expect stories about the healing properties of hemp oil to percolate above the subculture that presently contains them. American integrative medicine physician Andrew Weil has found that "some cancer patients have found it to be a superior remedy for the nausea caused by chemotherapy, and some people with multiple sclerosis are grateful for its relaxant effects on spastic muscles." But repealing the ban on industrial hemp will put these contentions to the test for true believers and skeptics alike, once hurdles to cultivation and innovation are removed. It's not an accident that more  seniors are signing on with cannabis and hemp to deal with the ravages of age. It's also no accident that my late, great father-in-law, who passed last year no thanks to Parkinson's, extended and improved his deteriorating state with cannabis, or that his children who suggested it to him are mostly doctors.

9. Hemp means jobs. As you may have heard, we're mired in an ongoing recession with unemployment hovering near 10 percent and going nowhere. So why would we trash an economically logical, environmentally friendly crop whose industrial  production could increase jobs and revenue? (Hey wait, is this why the  Pentagon is built atop Uncle Sam's hemp farm?) In 2010, U.S. retail sales of  hemp-based products passed $400 million, and there's likely a good reason that how much America pays annually to import hemp isn't just a click away. But It doesn't take 300 economists, including some Nobel laureates, arguing that  decriminalizing cannabis and hemp could save us $7 billion a year to realize that domesticating hemp production will bring jobs back across the borders to unemployed Americans. Who then might just turn around and buy more hemp products with their hard-earned pay. No-brainer, bean counters.

10. Hemp can be a peacemaker. Bipartisanship haters, take notes. Senator Wyden's reasonable amendment has been cosigned by the sometimes unreasonable Tea Party favorite,  Senator Rand PaulR-Kentucky, whose controversial father Ron Paul, R-Texas, introduced a similar measure earlier this year. Whether or not it immediately works should not overshadow the fact that it is  Wyden and Paul who have brought legislation favoring hemp to the congressional floor for the first time since the ' 50s. Not should it be forgotten than industrial hemp was once the second largest crop, after tobacco, of Kentucky's antebellum economy, which grew more than any other state before its  criminalizationPlus, legal hemp will stop pointless enforcements, like that of David Bronner, the fair-trade, sustainability entrepreneur and activist, who was recently  arrested in front of the White House protesting the industrial hemp ban while locked in a metal cage alongside his plants. 

Optimists with faith in humanity cannot help but look into the future and see more cannabis and hemp cultivation and consumption, as lab-rat mutations like soda, cigarettes and antidepressants finish off what's left of the evolutionary skeptics. We can't believe, for a second, that last century's superpower could stoutly march right off a cliff, armed with pharmaceutical marketing and a very unhealthy disrespect for earthly reality.

Scott Thill runs the online mag Morphizm.com. His writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others.

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