Thursday, January 31, 2013
Hemp debate: hope or dope? Former Kentucky governor admits mistake
Kentucky Voices: We Can Differentiate Between Hemp, Marijuana
By Louie B. Nunn, Former Governor of Kentucky
Lexington Herald-Leader, Feb. 19, 2001
It is time to separate reality from rhetoric. When I was governor, I listened to all sides of the issues, carefully considered all opinions before me and tried to be fair in my responses. Being actively involved in public service, Iam often asked for my opinion on various matters affecting our state.
One of the most recent, the industrial hemp issue, has also proven to be one of the most important.
Although Kentucky has long been known for its historical hemp industry, it wasn't until about a year ago that I became educated about industrial hemp. Frankly, I was opposed to the legalization of hemp for years because I had been of the opinion that hemp was marijuana. I was shortsighted in my thinking, and I was wrong.
Last year, as our farmers struggled with the loss of 65 percent of their tobacco income, I was asked to examine information on hemp. What I learned was that hemp is not a drug, and never was. After studying the facts, I believe hemp cultivation has the potential to make a positive impact on our faltering agricultural economy and to create economic opportunities for Kentucky farmers and local industries.
I am concerned with all the misleading and intimidating rhetoric being offered to politicians as facts. We Kentuckians have been so mired in misinformation about industrial hemp that it has become difficult to distinguish reality from rhetoric.
They say politics makes strange bedfellows, but none stranger than marijuana growers and law enforcement. Like preachers and bootleggers, they oppose legislation for different self-serving reasons.
Law enforcement opposes legalizing hemp production because officers get paid to destroy it, while marijuana growers oppose legalization because hemp cross-pollinates and destroys marijuana's potency. And neither side talks about Orincon, a company with the technology to differentiate marijuana and hemp from up to 5,000 feet in the air, and other simplein-field tests that accomplish the same results.
But despite these diametrically opposing sides, there is a middle ground where common sense and rational people exist together.
For instance, the North American Industrial Hemp Council is so adamantly opposed to ``mixing the message,'' it will not accept pro-marijuana members. Its membership includes James Woolsey, former head of the CIA; Jeff Gain, former director of the National Corn Growers Association; Erwin Sholts, former head of the Wisconsin Department of Agricultural Diversification; Raymond Berard, vice president of Interface Carpets (a billion dollar industry); Curtis Koster, formerly of International Paper; and Shelby Thames, a distinguished professor of polymer science at University of Southern Mississippi.
The list goes on to include farmers, businessmen, legislators and 16 other states in the process of passing legislation encouraging the growth of industrial hemp. Is it rational to say all of these folks are involved with the effort to legalize marijuana?
Should we listen when Canada's Royal Mounted Police report no problems regulating hemp, or is that force also working to legalize marijuana?
I know Kentucky State Police are as well educated as their Canadian counterparts and could as easily understand and incorporate industrial hemp regulations.
As difficult issues are analyzed with just, unbiased and sensible minds, solutions reached are usually fair and beneficial to all. Why should the industrial hemp issue be treated any differently? We should be looking forward to the time when intelligence and truth overshadow rhetoric and lack of knowledge.
Remember, we can't distinguish between Kentucky white moonshine and spring water by looking, but we haven't seen fit to outlaw spring water.
By Jeanette McDougal, St. Paul, Minn., Chairwoman Of� Drug Watch International's Hemp Committee
Lexington Herald-Leader, March 19, 2001
Separating hemp reality from hemp rhetoric is like separating fleas from dogs: It's hard to do, and it's temporary. When one hemp fact is established, pro-hemp advocates rush in with another of their own facts. Should we really turn for facts to former CIA Director James Woolsey, who bragged about his client the North American Industrial Hemp Council, by saying there was not a tie-dyed shirt owner among the members? He neglected to check their boxers. Several of the board members were either vigorous pro-drug advocates or their close associates.
David Morris, former vice-president of the council, pushed legalization of marijuana, marijuana cigarettes for medicine and industrial cannabis hemp for years in his columns in the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press.
Andrew Graves, founding and former board member, was party to a lawsuit to permit the growing of industrial cannabis hemp. The two lead lawyers in that suit Michael Kennedy of New York and Burl McCoy of Kentucky are on the roster of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, an aggressive pro-marijuana legalization advocate.
Actor Woody Harrelson, an admitted pot smoker, marijuana and hemp advocate, hired Joe Hickey, executive director of the Kentucky Hemp Growers Association, as a consultant, allowing Hickey to leave his former job and devote all his time to hemp. Harrelson has sponsored many Kentucky hemp events, including a hemp essay contest for Kentucky schoolchildren, some of whom received a list of hemp facts intermingled with marijuana facts, such as, ``smoking marijuana can be beneficial for emphysema, and can be used as a handy way to induce dry mouth before dental operations.''
John Howell, former hemp editor of High Times magazine, was in Kentucky in 1998 to help Graves, Kennedy and McCoy publicize the message that there is a hemp market. Howell recently represented the cannabis hemp industry at the National Conference of State Legislatures, without disclosing his ties to High Times.
High Times, one of the oldest and most militant pro-drug/marijuana publications in the United States, announced in its March 1990 edition an ``extraordinary plan'' to legalize marijuana:
``The way to legalize marijuana is to sell marijuana legally. When you can buy marijuana in your neighborhood shopping mall, it's legal ... Anything and everything you can think of will be made from hemp ... Supporters of the hemp legalization movement will be able to buy shares in hemp manufacturing. ... Legal and financial recognition of hemp's industrial value will mean legal marijuana, whether our government likes it or not! Pot will be legal! ... So invest in our future. Buy some legal marijuana. Buy a hemp shirt and wear it proudly!''
As to the economics of cannabis hemp, in 1999 about 540 Canadian farmers planted 35,000 acres of hemp. About 18,700 of those acres were contracted to a company called Consolidated Growers, which went bankrupt (Chapter 7) in February 2000, leaving 232 Canadian farmers� (almost half of those who planted hemp that year) holding the hemp bag for $5 million to $6 million. Much of the 1999 crop is still being stored by Canadian farmers.
In 2000, in all of Canada, a mere 13,500 acres were planted, down from 35,000 the year before. Ontario, the only province to do a costs/return per acre analysis, discovered that for fiber only, there was a $107 loss; for grain only, a $24 loss; and for grain and fiber, a $48 profit. An agriculture ministry official also warned farmers to have a contract with a reputable company before planting hemp, or they could lose $600 an acre.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the market for hemp fibers ``will likely remain a small, thin market.'' The report calculates that U.S. imports of hemp fiber, yarn, fabric and seed in 1999 could have been produced on less than 5,000 acres.
The hemp liability list goes on and on and on.
Reactions: �Attack On Hemp Unfair,� Lexington Herald-Leader, March 22, 2001
It appears that Jeanette McDougal of Drug Watch International mixed a few facts with a lot of misinformation in the anti-hemp commentary that appeared in Monday's Herald-Leader. It's the old legal tactic: If you don't have the law or facts, attack the person.
I have known the Graves family for three generations. During World War II the federal government asked the Graves family, as well as many other Kentucky farmers, to grow hemp for the war effort. Everyone was thanking them in those days instead of attempting to malign them as McDougal did. I know of no member of Andy Graves' family, passed or present, who would approve of or promote the production or use of marijuana.
As for Woody Harrelson, I defended him without charge in the name of liberty and justice. I didn't know him before the trial. He came here to test a legal concept in the interest of Kentucky farmers. No one was harmed.
McDougal and I have talked by telephone. She faxed me much outdated and narrowly interpreted material.
Modern technology can immediately distinguish between the industrial hemp plants and the marijuana plants, as can the naked eye. We should destroy the marijuana plant, but make every possible use of the industrial hemp plant.
In an honest effort to do both, there is no need to try to destroy decent people by insinuation, slander, guilt by association or the use of outdated or misdirected information.
I admire and support McDougal's objective, but shame on the course she has taken.
By Erik Rothenberg, Director, VoteHemp.Com, Los Angeles
Employing innuendo and specious logic, Jeanette McDougal put forth an all-out conspiracy theory of farmers, businessmen, politicians and others concealing secret identities as pot-smoking hippies engaged in the most seditious form of cultural treason: the legalization of marijuana through the re-commercialization of industrial hemp.
For those of us in the real world, hemp enjoys its current widespread bipartisan support because of its proven benefits in 31 other countries. In fact, the irony of McDougal's hysteria is that it is completely misplaced considering that more case law and legislation now exists to grow and use medical marijuana while low-THC hemp remains illegal.
But beware of confusing McDougal with the facts, as her focus is to establish guilt by association. The mere insinuation that an individual is even indirectly linked to what still passes for cultural taboo is offered as a poor excuse for a legitimate gripe. One should note that her complaints have yet to be reconciled with the increasingly long roster of conservative politicians and industrialists who support hemp.
Apparently the crown jewel of McDougal's conspiracy musings is a High Times article published more than 10 years ago, wishfully referring to hemp clothing as ``legal pot.'' Sorry, but inflating the implications of the unfortunate semantics of a biased journalist does not exactly a conspiracy make.
The informed citizen, armed with the hard facts about industrial hemp's well-established commercial potential and environmental benefits will eventually triumph over McDougal's pitiable campaign of misinformation, demagoguery and character smears.