Hey now, this looks promising! But alas, no, it’s not what you think. Turn on some old Willie Nelson tunes and calm your nerves, I’m talking hemp production, not marijuana. It’s a harsh world out there for would-be hemp farmers. The United States banned legalized growing of marijuana back in 1937, including hemp in the deal because of its status as a member of the cannabis sativa family. Though hemp contains miniscule amounts of THC, not even remotely enough to experience the marijuana induced high, DEA officials are reluctant to budge on the matter. Perhaps government officials, along with the general populace, can’t get past their pot prejudice. FYI: Pot and hemp are not the same thing, smoking hemp will produce nothing but smoke, and those supporters of hemp production should not automatically be labeled as potheads. It is rather disconcerting that America is in such a drug craze that a crop providing such bountiful benefits should be banned because of its narcotic cousin. If it’s legal to import hemp, shouldn’t it be legal to grow and export as well? There’s a fine line between fighting the good cause of knocking out drug abuse, and overstepping reasonable boundaries to ban a crop that has seemingly limitless environmental and health benefits.
Health-wise, hemp is a full spectrum protein, containing ten essential amino acids, numerous vitamins and the ever popular essential fatty acids Omega 3, 6 and 9. Hemp and flaxseed provide a valuable dietary alternative to obtaining these essential fatty acids without having to consume large quantities of fish oil. And then there’s the environmental impact. Hemp crops allow for crop rotation, introducing valuable nutrients back into depleted soils. This crop, in addition to bamboo, is also one of the least toxic in terms of chemical pollution. Whether organically or chemically grown, hemp requires little if any fertilizer or pesticides to promote their growth, as apposed to the chemical laden production of cotton. Even though individual states have passed legislation to legalize commercial hemp farming, most growers must still apply for DEA permits, which are nothing short of impossible to get. Claims against commercial hemp production in the U.S. range from the standard argument of its inclusion in the cannabis family tree, all the way down to the government’s inability to distinguish between marijuana and hemp crops from their drug busting helicopters in the sky. Yet, with all of the government’s arguments against hemp crops, don’t the pros of production seem to dramatically outweigh the cons?
Let’s set aside the relation of hemp and marijuana for a moment. Look at your own family and realize that the shortcomings of one member should in no way reflect on the rest of the family. Hemp is healthful, requires little if any pesticides and can be rotated with other crops to nourish the soil. And in the wake of massive global warming, hemp can be used to make paper products just as well as trees. Save the carbon dioxide absorbing forests. Growing hemp is quick and efficient. With so many benefits, legalization should not be a question. And back to the family resemblance, hemp, surprisingly enough has a very distinct look from its cousin. The government has allotted a great portion of government funds, several billion dollars, for the fight against drugs. But hemp? Hemp is friend not foe.
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