industrial hemp

U.S. Slowly Entering Postwar Era

Hawaii Becomes First State of the Modern Era to Plant Industrial Hemp

Why is the federal government trying to keep U.S. farmers away from hemp, while other countries allow it? We lag behind and are losing international competitiveness and jobs because of the federal government's intervention in hemp cultivation. But here is some good news!


Hawaii makes American history as the first industrial hemp seeds are planted in U.S. soilsince the crop was banned after World War II.

Hawaiian Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano will host the historical hemp seed planting ceremony at the Alterna Hemp Research Project agricultural plot in Whitmore Village on Oahu on Dec. 14, 1999, at 10 a.m. (Hawaiian time).

Hawaiian Hemp's Political History

After three years, the dedication and tenacity of Hawaii State Representative Cynthia Thielen paid off last May when the legislation to conduct the research needed to initiate the recovery of the industrial hemp crop in the United States passed in Hawaii. Governor Cayetano signed the industrial hemp bill into law and the political minutia building up to the seed planting again ensued.

"The project was made possible by a $200,000 grant from hemp shampoo maker Alterna's Professional Hair Care Products," explained Thielen. "Due to Alterna's financial support, the construction for the facility for the one-quarter acre industrial hemp plot began."

Built exactly per the strict requirements set forth by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the one-quarter acre is surrounded by chain length fencing with razor wire top, and a 24-hour infrared security system. Construction was completed in September, allowing for the state permit application to be submitted. The state permit issued in October and the federal permit application was submitted promptly to the DEA.

With the guidance of Thielen hot on the Fed's heels, the final and most difficult leg of the now four-year conquest was granted to Hawaii a month later. Hawaii is currently the only state in the United States to obtain permission from the DEA to grow industrial hemp following WWII.

Cayetano said, "My administration supports stimulating Hawaii's economy and keeping our agricultural lands productive. Industrial hemp could meet both of these objectives."

Plight of American Farmers

Hemp farming is of integral importance to Hawaii as the state's economy is still suffering from the loss of its main export, sugar cane. Hawaii also has the dubious national distinction of 17.6 percent unemployment rates on one of its islands. Thousands of farmers across the nation are also suffering from the declining profitability of crops they produce.

Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative president, Andrew Graves, spearheaded the lawsuit filed against the DEA last year, in an effort to allow Kentucky tobacco farmers the right to grow industrial hemp in lieu of their diminishing tobacco crops.

"It makes no sense that the same government that encouraged and paid my father good money to grow hemp 40 years ago during WWII, is restricting me from saving my ailing tobacco business by forbidding me to grow the exact same plant."

Despite the domestic demand for hemp products, American businesses are still forced to import hemp from any one of the 29 industrialized nations that grow the crop. All members of the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations permit hemp cultivation except one -- the United States!

Which State is Next?

During the past three years, 22 states have approved some form of legislation or resolution supporting industrial hemp, including California, Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Maryland, Iowa, Vermont, Tennessee and Montana, to name a few. Like Hawaii, North Dakota and Minnesota legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp in spring of 1999 and aim to plant seeds in spring of 2000.

Why Industrial Hemp?

Industrial hemp is more versatile than the precious soybean, the mainstay cotton plant and the reliable Douglas fir, combined. There are more than 25,000 different uses for this non-drug wonder plant. Hemp thrives in any climate, grows rapidly, and is resistant to disease and insects, which eliminates the need for pesticides or herbicides. Due to no chemical use during cultivation, the soil and groundwater is left untainted, making hemp an excellent rotation crop. Harvest time is a mere 60 to 90 days after seed planting, allowing for several crops to be grown in a season.

Sixty years ago, Popular Mechanics magazine called industrial hemp the "new million dollar crop." If legislation continues to pass across the nation, it's safe to say that hemp will be the new millennium's multi-billion dollar crop.


This story comes from the Grassroots Media Network.

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