Tuesday, August 29, 2006

29 AUGUST 2006
In today's Guardian, a brief article about the hemp initiative in California has appeared, written by Richard Luscombe in Miami. This is a story that has been around for some time now, but is staying in the press as there is world-wide interest. Should California pass the bill, it could set a precedent for other states. Not that others are not interested in this, the Vermont legislature some years back voted for it but got their votes vetoed by Skull & Bones member John Dean, then governor. Californians face a similar prospect, with their Republican governor able to play dictator and terminate their hopes.
Luscombe's article made the point that industrial hemp and pot are different in the crucial aspect of THC content; so much so that Repubican Senator Tom McClintock asserts: "Hemp bears no more resemblance to marijuana than a poodle to a wolf." McClintock is backing the legislation to allow hemp farming in California.
Also mentioned inthe Guardian piece is the oft repeated argument that hemp fields would be an ideal place to hide pot plants, which is thrown out as a stumbling block to progress. The truth is that fibre hemp plants grow thin and tall and the bushy, short varieties of Cannabis sativa that epitomise pot would stick out immediately. Further, as hemp fields would be subject to spot testing, no pot dealer in their right mind would want the visits from law enforcement. Better to plant them in a field of herbs growing the same height and not attract attention.
Part of the wording of the California bill, which passed in the assembly by a vote of 44-29, provides for it to be grown without a special permit from the Drug Enforcement Agency. A test for THC is required, and would add data to the argument that hemp is not a drug. In Canada, autorities have stopped testing USO varieties (used mainly for seed) as they are consistently so low in THC as to not even register a percentage. Other varieties such as Santhika (grown for fibre) are even believed to be THC free.
The article ends with a word of thanks from Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, who acknowledged the bipartisan support for hemp. This is now a trend in the US, with other state senators also joining forces across party lines to help American farmers revive the industry that was part of the lives of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Expect to hear more about hemp from this paper - the environment editor, John Vidal, has spoken with me to tell me he has wanted to do an article on hemp for ten years. Last month Whitaker Publishing sent him a copy of Hemp for Victory: History and Qualities of the World's Most Useful Plant, which he has passed on to a colleague, Annie Kelly, who is researching at the moment to produce a full length feature for later this month.

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