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A Congressional Shout Out to Hemp History Week

Yesterday, to honor Hemp History Week (who knew?), Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) used the occasion to promote his proposal to legalize the domestic production of industrial hemp, a genetic but non-psychoactive relative of marijuana. Paul’s sprawling speech touched on more topics surrounding the plant than you knew existed. For example…

The history:

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew industrial hemp and used it to make cloth. During World War II, the federal government encouraged American farmers to grow hemp to help the war effort.

The science:

Industrial hemp [is] defined to contain less than 0.3 percent THC — the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. … Nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming industrial hemp.

The current law:

Despite industrial hemp farming being an important part of American history, the federal government has banned cultivation of this crop.

The impact of that law:

Because of a federal policy that does not distinguish between growing industrial hemp and growing marijuana, all hemp products and materials must be imported. The result is high prices, outsourced jobs, and lost opportunities for American manufacturing.

The benefits of eliminating the prohibition:

Reintroducing industrial hemp farming in the United States would bring jobs to communities struggling in today’s economy, provide American farmers with another crop alternative, and encourage the development of hemp processing factories near American hemp farming.

Hemp’s utility:

Industrial hemp is used in protein supplements, non-dairy milk, and frozen desserts. Hemp flour is in breads, crackers, chips, dips, and dressings. Hemp seeds may be eaten plain or added to prepared foods. Additionally, hemp oil is used in a number of cosmetic and body care products, and hemp fiber is used in cloths. Industrial hemp is also present in bio-composite materials used in buildings and automobiles.

Paul’s bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), has 20 additional supporters.

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