Pubdate: Fri, 28 Mar 2014
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2014 The Des Moines Register
Author: Christopher Doering


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the United States is looking to
purchase hemp seed to help Ukraine's ailing economy, which has been
hurt by a corrupt government and recently an invasion by Russia into
its Crimea region.

Hemp is related to marijuana, but does not contain
Tetrahydrocannabinoids (THC), the intoxicating ingredients that make a
pot smoker high. Hemp is used in a variety of items including building
materials, personal hygiene products, textiles like carpeting and
ropes and foods such as margarine and cooking oil.

"We are now involved in trying to figure out ways in which we might be
able to use the industrial hemp seeds that are created in the Ukraine
in the U.S.," Vilsack told reporters earlier this week.

He said their hemp seeds do not contain THC content "so it probably
does not run afoul of any of our drug laws." Ukraine is one of the
world's largest producers of hemp seed.

Vilsack added the USDA is monitoring the situation overseas, but so
far there are no disruption from the situation on crop production or
the commodity markets in Ukraine.

Congress is expected to send legislation to President Obama by the end
of the week to reaffirm support for Ukraine, provide up to $1 billion
in loan guarantees for Ukraine as well as $100 million in direct
assistance. It also codifies financial sanctions the Obama
administration has already imposed on Russians officials.

Separately, the U.N. General Assembly voted Thursday to condemn
Russia's annexation of Crimea as illegal and the International
Monetary Fund said it will loan Ukraine up to $18 billion. 
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