Pubdate: Mon, 27 Nov 2000
Source: Belleville News-Democrat (IL)
Copyright: 2000 Belleville News-Democrat
Contact:  120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222
Fax: (618) 236-9773
Author: Jayne Matthews


Anti-Dug Forces Fear It Will Lead To Legalization Of Marijuana

Anti-drug forces in Illinois say they'll continue their fight against a 
proposed $1 million study of hemp -- a cousin of marijuana -- with a new 
president who state Sen. Evelyn Bowles can't call one of the "ladies from 

"My back is up a little bit when I'm treated like a little lady in the 
kitchen who should go home," said Priss Parmenter of Mt. Carmel, the new 
president of Illinois Drug Education Alliance who lives on a large 
livestock farm and also works as director of an eight-county regional drug 
counseling program in southeastern Illinois.

The two presidents before Parmenter live in Naperville, an affluent Chicago 
suburb. Parmenter was elected Nov. 20, a week after Bowles' public "ladies 
from Naperville" remark.

But Bowles said Monday the name-calling started with IDEA.

"They have made, I think, some very scurrilous accusations against the 
supporters (of state-funded hemp research). In essence, they're calling the 
supporters a bunch of druggies who support the growing of marijuana," said 
Bowles, an Edwardsville Democrat.

Bowles and other Illinois supporters want research into hemp growing 
because its stalks are the source of many products, ranging from rope, 
shampoo and clothing to car and home building materials. Hemp-based 
products now are imported into the U.S. from 37 countries, including Canada.

A bill has been moving through the Illinois Legislature that would provide 
$1 million for a two-year feasibility study of hemp growing by agriculture 
departments at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the 
University of Illinois in Champaign. It has passed the state Senate and has 
passed two of three required votes in the House of Representatives.

"The Naperville ladies have worked very, very diligently against the bill," 
Bowles said. "Let's find out (about the feasibility of growing hemp). Let's 
not remain ignorant and uninformed."

The bill has also been opposed by Illinois State Police, Illinois 
Principals Association and Illinois Church Action on Alcohol Problems, 
Parmenter said.

Hemp contains a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that 
produces the "high" from marijuana smoking.

"You could smoke (a stalk of hemp) as long as a telephone pole and all 
you'd get is a headache," Bowles said.

Parmenter said even a little THC is too much in a drug-saturated society, 
and IDEA has called legal hemp growing a calculated stepping stone to legal 

"If there is even a suggestion this could be detrimental to children, why 
are we doing it?" Parmenter said. "We don't need another thing to be battling."

A marijuana researcher at SIUC said she agrees with Bowles about the 
effects of smoking hemp.

"You'd get sick," said research professor Laura Murphy. "There are 
negligible amounts of THC in hemp. They are considerably smaller compared 
to marijuana."

Murphy said there are several types of cannabinoids and that hemp contains 
some that counteract THC and make it less potent.

Parmenter said there already is ample information that hemp farming, which 
requires special equipment, would not be profitable in the U.S. She said 
research money would be better spent on already-successful crops, like corn 
and soybeans, and on livestock farming.

The federal classification of hemp as a drug led in August to a Drug 
Enforcement Agency raid on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Nebraska, 
where the Oglala Sioux were growing hemp for house-building. Illinois 
classifies hemp, which grows wild in the state, a "noxious weed."

Only Hawaii now has a federal permit to grow hemp for research.
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