The Demonized Seed by Lee Green in tomorrow’s Los Angeles Times.
As a Recreational Drug, Industrial Hemp Packs the Same Wallop as Zucchini. So Why Does the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Continue to Deny America This Potent Resource? Call It Reefer Madness.
This article is not only one of the best overviews on Hemp I’ve seen for some time, but it’s an incredible indictment of the DEA. I’ve included some snippets from the article below, but you really should read all of it.
The article talks a little about Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis and the Conspiracy Against Marijuana, which is where I learned tons about Hemp before I even got involved in the drug policy reform advocacy.
“How can they make the one thing that can save the world illegal?” he asks, no less astonished by this paradox now than he was three decades ago.
If all or even most of the oft-cited claims for hemp are true, the substance may know no earthly equal among nontoxic renewable resources. If only half the claims are true, hemp’s potential as a commercial wellspring and a salve to creeping eco-damage is still immense. At worst it is more useful and diverse than most agricultural crops. Yet from the 1930s through the 1980s, many countries, influenced by U.S. policies and persuasion, banished cannabis from their farmlands. Not just marijuana, but all cannabis — the baby, the bath water, all of it.
If an American farmer were to fill a field with this drugless crop, the government would consider him a felon. For selling his harvest he would be guilty of trafficking and would face a fine of as much as $4 million and a prison sentence of 10 years to life. Provided, of course, it is his first offense. This for a crop as harmless as rutabaga.
…snip…The government’s motives for its attack on marijuana remain unclear. Researchers have proffered theories ranging from collusion with corporations threatened by hemp’s commercial potential to moralistic fervor and bureaucratic thirst for domain once Prohibition ended in 1933. Regardless of motives, the ensuing stigmatization, red tape, state and federal controls, punitive taxes and misconceptions about marijuana’s nature and its relationship to hemp doomed any chance that hemp would be resurrected as an agricultural crop.
…snip…Unmoved by logic, accepted nomenclature or the realities of plant genetics, the DEA insists that all cannabis is marijuana. Does the agency also consider industrial hemp grown legally outside the U.S. to be marijuana? “Yes, we do,” says Frank Sapienza, the agency’s chief of drug and chemical evaluation. Since more than 30 other countries manage to distinguish between marijuana and industrial hemp and allow their farmers to grow hemp, one wonders what they know that the U.S. doesn’t. “I’m not going to comment on what other countries do,” Sapienza says.
…snip…If you want to apply for a license to grow commercial hemp, you must solicit the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA consistently claims that no prohibition on hemp farming exists in this country, as if to suggest that all one need do is file the proper paperwork and make a reasonable case…
Nonetheless, the agency has rejected every application it has ever received. How many? There’s no telling–literally. The agency will say only that “the DEA does not have records of the number of applications received for such activities”–an extraordinary claim from an organization that documents every marijuana plant that it and cooperating law enforcement agencies uproot from U.S. soil.