Hemp

And we would bond in the face of oppression from big business and the deans,
But I knew there was a problem, every time the group would meet everyone would light up,
That made it difficult to discuss glaucoma and human rights, not to mention
chemotherapy.

  • The Pointless, Yet Poignant, Crisis Of A Co-ed, Dar Williams

This month, two North Dakota farmers filed a federal suit seeking a declaratory judgment against the Drug Enforcement Administration that would allow them to cultivate hemp. They say the current regulations put them at a competitive disadvantage because hemp farmers in other countries can sell their legal hemp in the U.S., but their U.S. business cannot. They say that industrial hemp is distinct from marijuana and cannot be used for ilicit purposes.

The DEA has traditionally taken the position that the law prohibits everything with THC in it, plant-wise, including industrial hemp.

The original law’s language excluded the “…mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.” The intent of that language was to permit hemp but prohibit marijuana.

Over the years, the interpretation was tightened up, for a number of reason – primarily to sweep in synthetic production of THC – and here we are today.

First an admission: like the narrator in Dar Williams’ song, I find that often, the most vocal proponents of legal hemp are those that are already blazin’ up doobies at any excuse. For me, this undercuts the sincerity of their arguments; I find myself asking why, if industrial hemp is so readily distinct from “true” marijuana, why many of the people that seeem so passionate about its acceptance are illegal marijanua users.

Trying mightly to put aside that prejudice, though, I find myself in reluctant sympathy with the arguments raised by these farmers.

Should our legislators step in here and support the orginal “hemp, but not pot” law? I’m thinking yes – I don’t support complete decriminalization of actual marijuana, but industrial hemp, once you subtract its usual glassy-eyed defenders, actually seems to have solid uses.

Thin end of the wedge, Bricker, thin end of the wedge. Maybe this stuff is no good for smoking, but if it is visibly and lawfully farmed in the U.S., people might become just slightly less averse to legalizing hemp as a recreational drug.

Which is, I’m sure, precisely why the DEA is sticking to its guns.

Pot being illegal is patently ridiculous as well. Just because one patently ridiculous law is being broken doesn’t mean that another patently ridiculous law is a good idea just because it is opposed by those breaking the first ridiculous law. I cannot think of a single bigger waste of tax dollars than the prohibition of marijuana. We should abolish the DEA, put them on the border, tax the hell out of Marijuana to pay for the education and emergency care of poor Mexican migrant workers, so that they can earn a living on Dakotan hemp farms so that we can be competitive with foreign markets.

I don’t really buy the slippery slope/thin wedge argument. Nobody’s trying to ban Kaiser rolls from fear of opium. This may be a pertinent point; the DEA does allow poppy seeds to be grown for food use, or do they?

The ban on industrial hemp just strikes me as political pig-headedness. I can’t see why hemp shouldn’t be allowed to be grown, and the law will do fine blocking the more potent plants that should be illegal. Preventing the growing of hemp is just something stupid that ought to be fixed.

For what it’s worth, I’m a lot more anti-pot than pro-pot. I think it should remain illegal or tightly controlled. My personal experience makes me hate it and not understand why someone would use it. However, I haven’t gone out of my way to stop an adult from using it if they want to.

I’d say there’s two factors here. One is the “thin end of the wedge” that BrainGlutton mentioned - kind of the reversal of the original reason for renaming the plant “marijuana” (e.g., so that they could criminalize hemp without all the people who grew/used it daily laughing them out of business). The other is because many of the hemp proponents who are pushing for it on it’s Green creds also happen to be dope-smokin’ hippie types; it’s an In-Thing to do. Correlation, not causation.

My family grew hemp until it was made illegal, and then grew it again when it was temporarily decriminalized during WWII. Up where my Dad was born, it was considered a weed because it’s so hard to get rid of, but anyone trying to smoke that stuff musta been some kind of desperate. Marijuana’s been the largest cash crop in this state for as long as I can remember. Yeah, I think the laws are fairly ridiculous and should be changed.

What’s your objection to decriminalization of marijuana (assuming it would be subject to controls similar to alcohol)?

Right, mswas. Pot smokers are foes of ridiculously draconian drug laws, and they point to hemp as an example of how ridiculously draconian our drug laws can be.

But they HAVE banned hemp for fear of “marijuana”. What BG and I are talking about is the idea popular among some pro-legalization folks that if they can get American hemp back in production, it will make people more comfortable with the idea and slowly lead to legalization of marijuana. (Please note I didn’t say I agreed with this idea, just that I’ve heard it from the types that Bricker mentioned.)

True, dat.

I’ve had far, far, far, far more problems with drunks than potheads. So why don’t we completely criminalize alcohol and see if that solves the drinking problem? Oh wait, we tried that didn’t we? Didn’t work so hot, hmmm?

[homer simpson]

Prohibition?! They tried that in the movies and it didn’t work!

[/hs]

Nobodys more into the literal meaning of “laissez-faire” then someone thats had a few puffs :slight_smile: Obviously the pot-heads are just against gov’t regulation of the market.

In seriousness though, I think the pro-(marijuana)legalization crowd is active in trying to get hemp legalized not because they know of some secret process to get drugs out of it, but because by pointing out the more blatent irrationality of hemp illegalization, they hope more people will come to their point of view on the more contraversal irrationality of anti-pot laws.

But so far as I know, the pro-hemp legalization arguments are sound even if you think that the illegalization of pot is a good thing, even if you disagree with its most vocal proponents on other issues.

I saw a program showing automotive panels and various industrial parts could be stamped with hemp. They would replace plastic (petroleum) parts. There are useful products than can be made. Especially since every piece of plastic ever made still exists.

I’d ask for a cite except that this is provably not true. Plastics have been burnt, recycled, and have even decomposed (many plastics are not resistant to UV radiation and will quickly deteriorate in sunlight).

Seems like I’ve heard that it is easy to hide the marajuana plants among the rows of hemp, so opponents just want to keep all of it illegal.

I’m for legalization, but I think that pushing for industrial hemp and medical marijuana is just a chickensh*t, underhanded way of going about it.

I’d be more in favor of every single day, having thousands, if not millions, blaze up right in the faces of the cops, DEA, whoever and simply overwhelm the justice system until it becomes unsustainable to enforce the prohibition. There’s easily the numbers for it, but likely not the gonads. Of course the first few shovelfuls of sand into the river ain’t gonna look much like a dam.

Yeah, I know, put down the bong…
Actually, I have put down the bong and am no longer “on the team” so to speak, so I think I can say this without stoner bias creep(er)ing in.

That might be a valid reason, though it seems like if legal growers had to register, it wouldn’t be that hard for the DEA to swing through the various farms every so often and look for illegal stuff.

How hard is it to tell legal variaties of the plant from the illegal ones? I suppose if the only way to tell the difference is an involved chemical test, then the DEA might have a point there.

http://www.ukcia.org/industrial/ Some uses of hemp. This stuff is not smokable.

Hemp does have some uses, but they arent real solid. That’s why the numerous countries where hemp cultivatation is legal still only produce tiny quantities. Hemp is a second rate crop in a lot of areas. That makes it ideal for subsistence farmers but pretty much useless for US farmers in a globalized market.

It’s somewhat ironic that probably the main reason for hemp cultivation is to produce products to sell to people who want to protest hemp being illegal in their own countires. IOW if pro-hemp types in the US, England and elsewhere weren’t buying hemp t-shirts to support legal hemp then there would be almost no hemp grown anywhere. The irony comes from realising that if these people got there wishes then no-one would wear hemp and hemp production worldwide would almost certainly fall due to legalisation.

So the real question then becomes “is it worth the trouble”. The growing of commmercial hemp will make detection of marijuana that much more difficult. Yes the DEA can “swing by” licenced growers, but that requires resources, as does the licencing scheme itself. And of course the DEA will then need to put even more resources into monthly remote sensing of all cropland in the US to check that someone isn’t growing hemp without a licence, whcih is of course what criminals often do. There’s no point just checking on rgeistered growers, and if hemp is able to be produced legally then the neighbours are hardly likely to comment that someone has a large hemp plantation. While these problems aren’t insurmountable they aren’t minor issues either, and they will cost real money.

So we then have to look at the benefits, and as I said, they are small. In Canada hemp production maxed out at only 20, 000 ha, and that isn;t a steady and sustainable level. Actual sustainable levels seem to be around 5, 000 - 10, 000 ha. Now as I said above, a lot of that hemp is being sold to countries like the US to be worn by people protesting hemp legalization. If the US were to legalize hemp then what we should expect is that the demand for hemp will fall precisely because it is legal. So with decreased demand, and assuming the US takes 75% of Canda’s share of the market then the total US hemp crop will be ~8, 000 ha. That’s bigger then my back yard, but it’s not exactly a major player in the US agricultural sector. In fact it’s about comparable to the area of other niche crops such as jojoba.

So the question then becomes whether the benefits of such a tiny niche crop outweigh the problems that legalization will create. That of course will always be a subjective judgement. Socially and ethically the issue of infringing on the freedom of law abiding citizens because they may unintentionally aid criminals is very subjective. Economically the issue could probably be answered if we knew how much the remote sensing and spot checks would cost to operate at a given accuracy level (it will never be 100% of course) and what economic value we place omn marjuana use.

Intuitively I have to say that it’s simply not worth it. We are talking about a very small niche crop with a limited market, while the expense entailed in legalisaing production would be potentially extremely high and probably a nightmare to enforce (search warrants based on sattelite imagery suggesting someone is growing commercial hemp. Has that ever been validated by the SC?).

That website is not in any way reliable.

As soon as website makes the outrageous claim that hemp needs no fertiliser or insecticide you know that it is biased pro-hemp bullshit. Hemp is a plant, not a god. It requires fertilizer just like every other plant on the planet, and just like every other plant on th eplanter it has insect predtaors that require treatment with pesticides.

I agree with Blake. I’m fully in favor of legalizing marijuana but if we postulate that marijuana is going to be illegal, it’s just does not seem practical to legalize hemp.

I wanted to post in this thread at 4:20 local time, but somehow I missed my chance.

I certainly agree that the uses of hemp are certainly oversold by the pro-legalization crowd, and for all I know it’s more or less worthless as a crop.

But if there turns out to not be a lot of demand for hemp, then it will be easy to police the few people that do choose to grow it. If there is a lot of demand, then it would probably be worth the extra expense to allow people to cultivate it. All else fails they could tax hemp or its products and use the proceedes to fund licensing/policing. If the crop isn’t profitable, no one will be able to afford the tax and the point is moot, if it makes money, then it can pay for its own costs to the gov’t. In anycase, I’d rather not see the gov’t illegalize something on the grounds that it makes a vaguly related activity fractionally harder for them to police.

The probelm remains as I stated above: criminals don’t seek licences.

If there are 50, 000ha of hemp under licenced cultivation in the US that is more than enough that neigbours and passers by will not look twice at a hemp field. That means that unlicenced growers can very easily plant a screen of fibre hemp around a marijuana crop without arousing suspicion. The only way to detect this will be to monitor all US agricultural land via sattelite on a monthly basis, and cross reference that satellite imagery with a database of known licienced crops. That’s certainly perfectly plausible with curent technology, but it is by no means free. Then the DEA will need to be able to obtain a warrant based on that satellite imagery in order to do an on-ground search to confirm the crop is hemp, and I don’t even know if that would be legal.

That is the issue. It’s not a case of policing the “few people” who choose to grow commercial hemp. It’s policing the potential multitude who choose to grow marijuana and use the now-inconspicuous commercial hemp as a screen.

Let’s look at this rationaly. In the first few years let’s imagine there are 500 hemp farmers each growing 1000 ha. That will be sufficient to mandate remote sensing chacks of all US agrcutural land. Do you really think 500 farmers could provide enough taxes to ocver that expense? I don’t. Even if they were growing golden hemp plants I don’t think they could fund that sort of operation and still turn a profit.

I think this is the point you are missing. Once you allow any commercial hemp you will provide a legitimate screening crop for marijuana, and that will require some very hi-tech methods of detection.

So you presumably don’t support any sort of laws restricting the possesion of explosives, for example? Since you wouldn’t support laws making dynamite ilegal on the grounds that it makes the vageuly related activity of bank robbery or terrorism harder for them to police?

That seems like nonsense to me. Our society is built on laws that make things illegal precisely because it makes it marginally more difficult to police other activities. Everything from vehicle registration to state licencing of gambling and liquor to registration of births, deaths and marriages is an example of the gov’t illegalizing something on the grounds that it makes a vaguely related activity fractionally harder for them to police.