Pubdate: Fri, 02 May 2008
Source: Bennington Banner (VT)
Copyright: 2008 by MediaNews Group, Inc.
Bookmark: (Hemp)


What exactly is the big deal here? It  seems incredible that there's
been such a drawn-out  debate - actually encompassing several years -
over  whether to make hemp a legal crop in Vermont.

At last, however, the bill seems close to passage in  the Legislature
and could be on its way to the  governor's desk soon.

Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, chairman of the Senate  Judiciary
Committee, had been urged by numerous farmers  and others to usher the
bill along to the full Senate.  He now has agreed to do that, and the
bill was expected  to be voted on late Thursday or today.

However, Sen. Sears said he had concerns in part  because growing hemp
is prohibited by the federal  government, and the Vermont law would
not take effect  unless the federal prohibition is lifted.

"My concern is that it basically requires the federal  government to
agree with it, and the federal government  is not going to agree with
it," he said. "I don't want  our farmers having drug busters coming in
from the feds  and making an example."

The reason for this non-reefer madness? Because hemp,  like marijuana,
contains tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC,  a psychoactive chemical. The
difference, as any  boob outside the federal government under George
W.  Bush knows, is that hemp contains such a low level of  THC it
would only give someone a severe headache if  they were dumb enough to
smoke it.

Meanwhile, the United States is the only industrialized  nation that
doesn't allow hemp to be grown legally.  Hemp, grown elsewhere,
including in Canada, has myriad  uses: It has been used to make cloth
and rope for  thousands of years. Hemp ropes are known for their 
strength and durability and were used in ship's rigging  and for
anchor ropes during the age of sail. George  Washington and Thomas
Jefferson both grew hemp. Ben  Franklin owned a mill that made hemp

In short, it is only the radial right-wing  administration now in
power in Washington that, in a  self-defeating effort to appear
ultra-tough on drugs,  is blocking farmers here and elsewhere from
growing  hemp. But that could end as early as Jan. 20, 2009. We  hope.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin