Pubdate: Mon, 27 Jul 2009
Source: Ashland Daily Tidings (OR)
Copyright: 2009 Ashland Daily Tidings
Author: Dawn Hatchard, Correspondent


Industrial Trade Of Product In The Legalization Process

Oregon Senate Bill 676, legalizing the growth, possession and trade of
industrial hemp, passed the House on July 2 and is expected to be
signed Tuesday.

Uses for hemp span a range of common practical applications including
textiles, paper, building products, food, fuel oils and several
others. Passing the industrial hemp bill is a step toward Oregon
producing and manufacturing these products.

Alfred Hanan, owner of the Hemporium in Ashland, expects to see an
immediate positive effect to his business as a result of the state's
acceptance of hemp.

"It brings hemp back into the mainstream," Hanan said. "That never
should have gone away.

There are no administrative processes in effect for potential farmers
yet, but there will be licensing requirements, said Melanie Barniskis
of the Southern Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Industrial hemp's levels of THC, the chemical behind the "high"
produced by illegal marijuana, are very low, according to Barniskis.

Industrial hemp plants are almost indistinguishable from the cannabis
plants grown for medical marijuana use, Barniskis said, adding that
only a trained eye would be able to tell a difference.

"Hemp and cannabis have always been lumped together as the same plant,
which is understandable  they look the same," she said.

Sustainability and yields are other positives advocates like Southern
Oregon NORML and Hanan associate with the passage of the bill. Hemp
can be replanted in the same soil without degrading it, said Hanan.

The same acreage of hemp produces four times the yield as timber, and
it doesn't take 30 years to grow back to be harvested again, Hanan and
Barniskis said.

Hemp products will become more affordable as shipping and import costs
are eliminated, with hemp textiles coming from China and many hemp
products coming in from Canada, Hanan said.

Southern Oregon NORML does have concerns about the cross pollination
of industrial hemp with medical marijuana plants and a resulting
reduction in the effectiveness of medical marijuana, said Barniskis.

There is precedent for having two similar crops existing in the same
state, with canola being an example, Barniskis said of measures that
need to be taken to protect both types of crops.

"I hope there's capital to make it happen. There are plenty of empty
buildings for manufacturing," Barniskis said.

The Hemporium is located at 296 E. Main St. in Ashland and offers a
range of hemp products and information on the uses for the plant.

Southern Oregon NORML can be reached at 779-1448 and is located at 332
W. Sixth St. in Medford. 
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