Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been working with others such as Senator Rand Paul to lift the federal ban on hemp. As an industrial product, hemp is versatile and useful in the manufacture of paper, textiles, clothing, plastics, construction and biofuels as well as food from its oil and seeds. So, what’s the deal with the feds outlawing it?
Hemp has been outlawed nationally simply because it resembles its more recreational relative. Hemp is a part of the same plant family as marijuana, but there is one big difference. The stated reason that the feds have sought to outlaw marijuana is the presence of THC, the chemical responsible for giving users their high. Marijuana can contain anywhere from 10% – 15% THC, while hemp contains anywhere from 0.01% – 0.03% THC. It’s so low that some have said hemp couldn’t get anyone high unless the hemp “joint” was the size of a telephone poll. I guess at that point, it might not be a joint anymore, but a “boffo splibo.”
Outlawing hemp is like outlawing powdered sugar because it looks like cocaine. Or like outlawing rock candy because it can look like crystal meth. I guess the main difference is that hemp is a very useful and durable resource, and sugar and candy, not so much. Lifting the ban on hemp won’t encourage kids to smoke marijuana. It will, as McConnell points out, create lots of jobs. In Kentucky, McConnell’s home state, hemp would be a cash crop:
“I am convinced that allowing [hemp’s] production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy….The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times that sounds like a good thing to me.”
What’s funny about hemp is that while it’s illegal to grow it in the U.S. (except in some states, but even in those states, they haven’t really started growing it because of fear of the DEA), it’s not illegal to import hemp products. So, it’s OK to give other countries like Canada and the UK money to have hemp imported to us here, but we can’t grow it here without fear of being raided by the feds.
Hemp isn’t a drug. It’s just a very useful plant. If Congress is serious about creating jobs and helping the economy, it should start by lifting this silly ban on hemp.