Pubdate: Wed, 20 May 2009
Source: Bakersfield Californian, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Bakersfield Californian
Author: Bruce J. Hargreaves


The recent letter on hemp was interesting, but misleading in many respects.

The illustration accompanying the letter looks more like Castor oil 
than hemp. People often confuse plants with hemp that are quite 
unrelated. When I was a student at UCSB, Prof. John Haller told of a 
policeman bringing him a plant which he had taken from a dorm room. 
He said, "If you took that without a warrant, you had better return 
it before you are sued." The policeman was surprised to learn he had 
taken a perfectly legal plant!

More recently, when I was head of the National Botanic Garden in 
Botswana, it was reported that people were taking leaves off a 
certain plant and smoking them. I replied that I had noted the 
missing leaves and wondered why anyone would pick marigold! Another 
plant which looks like the hemp plant is Hibiscus canabinus. It is 
also a useful fiber plant.

This brings us to another point, the reason for the difficulty in 
growing hemp legally in the U.S. Nowhere in the letter is it made 
clear that this is another name for Cannabis sativa or marijuana!

Personally, I see no reason not to legalize its growth and use for 
medicinal purposes as well. (I understand it would help my migraines, 
but I will continue to use the legal drug, honey.) Our laws on this 
are rather hypocritical considering the damage done by such legal 
drugs as tobacco and alcohol.

Incidentally, hemp is not a tree and could not possibly replace 
timber products as stated in the letter.


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