Posted By stuartbramhall on February 24, 2012
(This is the last of three posts about the Industrial Hemp Farming Act Bill sponsored by Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.)
Hemp as a Tobacco Replacement Crop
With recent the recent anti-smoking movement and declining cigarette use among Americans, many tobacco farmers export as much as 85% of their crop to China, India and Eastern Europe, which have laxer anti-smoking laws (http://www.globalhemp.com/1995/01/industrial-hemp-and-other-alternative-crops-for-small-scale-tobacco-producers.html). However with tobacco exports declining more than 50% since 1996 (http://www.tobaccoatlas.org/trade.html), hemp is high on the list of possible replacement crops. Nothing is as big an earner as tobacco, which currently grosses approximately $1,500 per acre. Processed tomatoes are worth $775 per acre, while other food crops bring in much less, around $100-200 per acre. Industrial hemp earns $200-500 per acre, depending on the quality of the fiber. This is expected to increase as demand increases.
Thus it’s no surprise that many tobacco states have enacted laws legalizing hemp production, in anticipation that Congress and the Obama administration will come to their senses. The states authorizing industrial hemp cultivation are North Dakota, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Oregon, California, Montana, West Virginia and Vermont. North Carolina, another tobacco state and the home of Hemp Technologies and the first American hemp houses, has passed a bill to “study” possible legalization (http://www.cnbc.com/id/41741257).
Why the DEA Opposes Hemp Legalization
The main justification the DEA and Department of Justice give for continuing the ban on hemp is that law enforcement officials have difficulty distinguishing between hemp and marijuana (http://naihc.org/hemp_information/content/hempCharacter.html). Given that police in other countries where hemp cultivation is legal (Canada, China, New Zealand, and many parts of Europe) have no difficulty distinguishing between the two cannabis sativa varieties, this is a serious insult to the intelligence of American police and drug enforcement officials. Hemp is a tall, skinny plant with few major branches below the primary branches at the top. It’s grown in rows a foot apart. Marijuana plants, in contrast, are short and bushy and must be spaced six feet apart for optimum growth. Even the leaves are different. Hemp has seven long thin leaflets and marijuana five leaflets, with three of them nearly twice the width of hemp leaflets.
The 2011 Industrial Hemp Farming Act Bill
It should be a no-brainer. We are talking about revenue neutral environmental/sustainability legislation (revenue positive if it leads to new jobs and taxpayers) – the cost to the taxpayer of repealing this ban is zilch. The benefits are far too numerous to list in their entirety. Besides greatly reducing transportation and other import-related costs, we provide a great boon to financially struggling tobacco farmers and states, while offering homeowners a low cost energy efficient building and insulation material that helps conserve increasingly scarce forest lands.
In May 2011, Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul and 25 cosponsors introduced the 2011 Industrial Hemp Farming Act Bill (for the fourth time). It’s clear from the list of states that support hemp legalization that this is a non-controversial bipartisan issue. I can’t imagine any legitimate (i.e. rational) reasons why Congress and Obama would be blocking its passage – or why such an important Bill should go unreported in the corporate media. Presumably the reasons are political. In other words, some as yet unidentified corporate lobby opposes it because it threatens their financial interests.
I won’t speculate which one(s). However it’s pretty obvious why Hemp Technologies is moving to expand into Canada and New Zealand, where hemp cultivation is legal. Obviously America’s loss is their gain. As I mention in a prior blog, the US is the world’s largest hemp importer – they import most of it from their main economic rival, China, which is the world’s largest producer.