Well, you might have a bit more if Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) get their way. The two lawmakers have plans to reintroduce legislation to legalize the domestic farming of industrial hemp, a genetic but non-psychoactive relative of marijuana.
Hemp advocates (yes, there are hemp advocates out there) argue that the change would benefit the economy at a time when it could certainly use the boost.
“Hemp is a versatile, environmentally-friendly crop that has not been grown here for over 50 years because of a politicized interpretation of the nation’s drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),” Eric Steenstra, president of Vermont-based Vote Hemp, said in a statement. “Jobs would be created overnight, as there are numerous U.S. companies that now have no choice but to import hemp materials valued at $360 million in annual retail sales and growing.”
Any number of domestic businesses — from soap makers to auto suppliers — use industrial hemp in their products, but the hemp must be farmed overseas and imported. (Nearly every other industrialized country in the world already produces the crop.) The Frank-Paul bill, Steenstra said, “will return us to more rational times when the government regulated marijuana, but allowed farmers to continue raising industrial hemp just as they always had.”
The Obama administration has already shown some signs that it plans to move the country’s drug policy away from the “war on drugs” mentality that’s marked the last few decades. Support for the Frank/Paul bill would be another signal that it’s serious.
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