Thursday, July 06, 2006

Like many southern states, North Carolina at one time grew hemp. There is record of 39 tonnes grown in 1850 and 3,016 tonnes grown in 1860. The Civil War was a factor which stopped much of the US hemp cultivation, so the 1870 record is nil. That same amount is what is grown today.
The nineteenth century use of hemp was mainly for the navy, which used the better grades of this fibre, usually grown and processed in Russia. Attempts at using domestic supplies were made, including discussions on Capitol Hill, but the Russian hemp was actually preferred by the US sailors for its strength, having been water-retted. One trial comparing the two was made in 1824 on a ship called the USS North Carolina, one side rigged with Russian, the other with American.
Today the navy uses Manila hemp, or abaca, and even if someone wanted to produce hemp ropes, they would have to use foreign grown hemp; presently, cultivation is not allowed t in the US at all, despite its use by the Founding Fathers and its promotion by the US government in 1942, when it was used by the US Navy, grown in the Midwest and processed in Massachusetts.
Two North Carolina Senators are presently trying to have hemp relegalised in their state. One is a Republican, Stan Bingham; the other a Democrat, Ellie Kinnaird. While there is bipartisan agreement between both of the state's senators, local law enforcement officials are not as united. Guildford County Sherriff BJ Barnes weighs the fact that it would require testing by noting that testing is not a new practice in policing, and concludes with the thought: "I don't want to stand in the way of something that could be a lucrative crop...I don't have a problem with it."
On the other hand, Davidson County Sherriff David Grice does have a problem with it in his mind; he thinks that legalising hemp would be "letting the genie out", claiming a grower of hemp could mix in marijuana plants to hide them, which is widely rebutted by knowledgeable advocates who point out that cross-pollination would preclude such an arrangement.
The Democratic Senator, from the Chapel Hill area, joked with her colleague: "Stan, you'll get run out of the country where you live, and I'll be a hero in Chapel Hill."
Sen. Bingham stands by his convictions whatever hotheads want to do, saying: "Hemp is just too worthwhile to back down because of potential just makes sense to me."
Good for both of you, time we saw some bipartisan action for the good of the public. Me thinks George Washington would be proud.

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