HIGHTOWER: Hemp

Imagine if there was a natural plant that could be used to make beautiful fabrics, fine paper, inexpensive fuel, safe pain-relievers and dozens of other worthwhile products -- all from one plant. A plant that would be a huge, job-producing cash-crop for America, that requires very little water and no pesticides to produce it and is so prolific it literally grows like a weed.Well, such a plant does exist. But the government won't allow our farmers to grow it. Imagine that!The plant is cannabis sativa or industrial hemp. The same hemp that makes the ropes used on U.S. warships, the same hemp that made the paper our U.S. Constitution was drafted on, the same hemp that both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew on their farms, the same hemp that the U.S. Department of Agriculture urged on farmers until the 1930s, distributing its seed for free and promoting it as an All-American crop.So why does government now nix this plant? Because industrial hemp is first cousin to the same species that produces the no-no weed: marijuana.But wait a minute. Industrial hemp is to marijuana what near beer is to beer -- it has practically zero "delta-9 tetrahydro cannabinol," which is the elemental oomph in marijuana that makes you get high. You could smoke a hemp rope all day long and you wouldn't get off the ground, much less get high. But the government, puffed-up with ignorance and arrogance, just says no.So our farmers are not allowed to grow one of the world's best crops. More than a hundred U.S. companies now sell all kinds of hemp products from hemp shoes to hemp paper but the hemp they use has to be imported from our European and Asian competitors.If you think this is as quacky as I do, contact the Coalition for Hemp Awareness at 602-988-9355.

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