Pubdate: Fri, 17 Apr 2009
Source: Equinox, The (NH Edu)
Copyright: 2009 The Equinox
Author: Jen Senofonte


NH Hemp, Marijuana Legislation Wanted

New Hampshire activists have been trying to legalize  the growth of
industrial hemp for the state for over a  decade. Just a few months
ago, they introduced a new  House Bill to try again.

The bill permits the development of an industrial hemp  industry in
New Hampshire. The Environment and  Agriculture Committee advocates
that the use of  industrial hemp will improve New Hampshire's economy
and agricultural capabilities, having nothing to do  with the use of
marijuana as an illegal substance.

"The production of industrial hemp can be regulated so  as not to
interfere with the strict regulation of  controlled substances in this
state," states House Bill  399.

"America is the number one importer of hemp, it would  be better to
buy it from ourselves," said Keene State  College sophomore, Erik Breakell.

He said he thinks if the bill was passed it would be  really
interesting and it would improve the economy.

The growing of cannabis for industrial hemp use means  the plant will
contain the least amount of  tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), at less than
one percent.  It will be grown only for the purpose of hemp and not
for the use of marijuana as an illegal substance.

"You can't get high off hemp," said KSC senior Eva  Loomis. "It's like
drinking O'Doul's, you can't get  drunk off a non-alcoholic beer."

Loomis said it is frustrating because of the stigma  hemp has acquired
since people relate it to marijuana,  which is illegal. With that in
mind, there are several  uses for hemp that come from marijuana plants
that have  nothing to do with the illegal drug world. Hemp has  proved
to be one of the most productive and useful  plants known world-wide
for many years. Some uses  include various foods, oils, fibers that
can be used to  make clothing, jewelry, rope, biofuels, roofing
shingles and many other products.

"I wear hemp shirts and shoes," Breakell said. "I use  hemp paper and
I drink hemp milk."

"It can be anything if utilized to its full potential,"  Loomis

There are 25,000 uses for hemp, according to Loomis.  She thinks it
should be a replacement for cotton  because of the possibilities the
crop has and its  benefits for the environment.

"Because of the growing soil problems, hemp will need  to be legalized
at some point," Breakell said.

Its nutrients replenish the soil and benefit the  environment because
pesticides and herbicides are  unnecessary, unlike other crops it
could substitute  for.

"It's an obvious solution to deforestation," Loomis  said. Hemp is 77
percent cellulose, as opposed to 60  percent in wood. Some people say
hemp is 'a plant to  save the world'.

"It's crazy. There's this miracle plant in terms of  everything and
it's illegal for some absurd, unknown  reason," Loomis said. "How much
can we run our  environment into the ground before something positive
starts to happen?"

In an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio, Mark  Lathrop, the
chairman of the New Hampshire Hemp  Council, talked about his personal
expositions with  hemp and, as a farmer, highlighted the potential
economic possibilities of industrial hemp.

"There is already a domestic market, there is already  companies doing
this and importing raw materials. This  is an immediate agriculture
our farmers could step into  with little overhead and giving it to an
end user," he  said.

Both Vermont and North Dakota are the two only states  in the United
States to pass laws enabling the  licensure of hemp. The law was
passed, however no  permits to grow the crop have been awarded.
Breakell  advocated that if New Hampshire does pass HB 399, it  may
quicken the pace of the whole movement.

"It's kind of a shame that hemp is associated with the  drug culture
these days because people see it as a  middle step of marijuana,"
Breakell said. He said this  is discouraging because it slows down the
whole process  of making hemp accepted and legal to grow.

Both Loomis and Breakell have been involved as student  activists
dealing with issues on hemp and marijuana.  Specifically, Breakell
gave a presentation at last  year's Academic Excellence Conference
about hemp. He  said he also has supported petitions for hemp, made
posters to inform people and generally educates people  on the issue.

Loomis organized the on-campus event held on Monday,  April 13, Help
Eliminate Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP).  The event supported both
medical marijuana and  industrial hemp. It began as just a project for
her  Student Empowerment and Activism course at KSC and  evolved into
a passion for her as an activist.

"Change will come about gradually," she said. "People  will think,
'why didn't we do this earlier?'"

"It's sad to see little movement happen because people  are scared of
drugs," Breakell said. "[Hemp] is not a  controlled substance and
there is a difference." 
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