Letter: The virtues of industrial hemp
I was recently at A.R.E. Day (American Renewable Energy) and want to thank everyone involved for putting together such an informative and timely Energy Symposium. The new documentary “Racing Extinction” was a very effective wake-up call concerning our current animal extinction crisis.
I was there in the hope of informing people about the world’s most useful and sustainable plant, industrial hemp, grown extensively in the U.S. until the 1930s. Unfortunately, the knowledge and value of the hemp plant has been suppressed for more than half a century (due mostly to competitive fears from big business), but no other plant on the planet comes close to providing as many benefits to mankind and Mother Nature.
From food, fuel, clothing, building materials, to plastics and medicine, every part of this plant can be used to make things while requiring only a fraction of the water, harmful pesticides and chemicals that we now use. It also sequesters four times more carbon than trees and can restore depleted soil.
Wow! Any talk about sustainability without including industrial hemp is missing an extremely important piece of the solution. But there’s a hitch. Yes, while we can buy hemp products (the United States imports over $150 million and sells over $600 million of hemp products annually), we just can’t grow it here. Farmers in the U.S. don’t see a penny of that money. Anyone else think this is outrageous? And environmentally irresponsible?
There is, however, a growing wave of support for this incredibly versatile, nonpsychoactive field crop, and it is possible we could see federal legalization as early as next year. Bills S.134 and H.R. 525 of the 2015 Industrial Hemp Farming Act are in committee now (Iowa Sen. Grassley is chairman). Please help by going to VoteHemp.com to sign the petition to Congress. Tell friends and family in other states to do the same. American farmers must be allowed to grow hemp once again in this country. We will all be much richer for the effort.
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