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U.S. Backward in Economic Development

Via NORML, a new Congressional Research Service Report (pdf) notes that the U.S. is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop.

In all, more than 30
countries in Europe, Asia, and North America grow hemp, although most banned
production for certain periods of time in the past. The United States is the only
developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop. Great Britain
lifted its ban in 1993 and Germany followed suit in 1996. In order to help reestablish
a hemp industry, the European Union instituted a subsidy program in the 1990s for
hemp fiber production. …

The countries exporting hemp products to the United States vary considerably
from year to year. Over the last five years, the most consistent exporters of raw and
processed hemp fiber to the United States have been China, the Philippines, Poland,
Romania, Canada, and India. The leading exporters of hemp oil have been the
Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Republic of South Africa, and
Italy. However, according to industry reports, Canadian growers are expanding
production of varieties for health food and bodycare uses. Consequently, Canada
could be poised to become a major source of U.S. hemp seed and oil imports. …

Strictly speaking, the CSA does not make Cannabis illegal; rather, it places the
strictest controls on its production, making it illegal to grow the crop without a DEA
permit. DEA officials confirm issuing a permit for an experimental plot in Hawaii
in the 1990s (now expired), and they confirm that DEA still has not ruled on an
application submitted in 1999 by a North Dakota researcher. Hemp industry
officials assert that the security measures the DEA requires are substantial and costly,
and deter both public and private interests from initiating research projects requiring
growing plots.

Why should we allow our farmers to compete in the world market?
NORML Executive
Director Allen St. Pierre said. “This report should help to galvanize
support among US farmers, industrialists, and environmentalists for the
legalization and regulation of hemp as an agricultural commodity.”

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