Source: Cincinnati Post High Time for Hemp Callers Say Crop Will Help Farmers June 18, 1997 CINCINNATI POST: Callers to The Kentucky Post Reader's Hotline say it's time to legalize growing industrial hemp in Kentucky. Unanimously, readers said the benefits hemp can bring Kentucky far outweigh any problems it might create. "I'm sure there's going to be bad apples (growing marijuana instead), and I don't want to see people getting involved in marijuana," said Jonesville's J. Taylor said. "But, you see in the paper that so money much money is leaving the country, going to China and other countries for hemp. That's money that could be staying here." Even before statehood, Kentucky was home to a renowned hemp crop. And in fact, some callers, believe a return of the plant could mean a return to Kentucky's past prominence as a hub of the worldwide hemp industry. But in the 20th century hemp has been shunned because of its link to its genetic cousin marijuana. Its production is banned under the Controlled Substances Act of 1972. Recently, however, hemp has been making a comeback. Actor Woody Harrelson and musician Willie Nelson have led a mainstream charge for hemp's legalization. Many, fearing the reign of tobacco is coming to an end, look to hemp become the next cash crop. Others simply see an untapped source of revenue to be used along with tobacco. Hemp has even found an ally in former Gov. Edward "Ned" Breathitt. Such support is counter to the notion that anyone who advocates hemp production is merely trying to find a back door to legalize marijuana. "We're not trying to legalize marijuana," one caller to the Hotline said. "Hemp can be used in many ways for the good. It doesn't necessarily have to be used as a drug. Is it a smoke screen for loosening up on marijuana? No." Still, most callers said their main concern was with the plight of Kentucky farmers. As one said, "Us farmers have starved long enough. Hemp would go a long way for refurnishing farmers' income." Whatever their reason, callers made their support of hemp clear. Here are some of their comments: Gary Smith, Dry Ridge: "The state's going to need something to take the place of tobacco soon. Tobacco is the mainstay for the state, but they're coming down on smoking so bad, Kentucky's going to need something to fall back on." Melinda Vest, Verona: "My husband and I live on 20 acres and we grow tobacco. I'd rather grow hemp. I know someone who is so addicted to cigarettes that she's going to kill herself. It makes me feel kind of guilty growing tobacco." Ray Jones, Florence: "As far as I'm concerned, there's a conspiracy in this country to make things illegal in the first place. It has to do with it being used to make paper and clothing. Anything that's made of plastic, which is made of petroleum products things that harm the environment can be made from hemp. It's a joke that it ever become illegal. It's one of the highest protein sources. You could feed the world's starving with the plant. It would also be a great means of replacing tobacco in Kentucky. Tobacco is a whole lot worse for you than hemp can be." David Keller, Covington: "We should give (hemp) an opportunity to compete. Hemp has a history, a long history of cultivation, with plenty of benefits. Give it a chance to compete against (other crops)." Charles Colston, Newport: "Yes, I believe it should be legal to grow hemp in Kentucky. Farmers in the state of Kentucky are facing hardship. They need an offcrop to help to pay the bills and raise their money." Sue Weaver, Independence: "If hemp can cure and help make clothing, then I think we need it. They say it's good as a medicine, so why shouldn't we grow it?" Michael Parr, Elsmere: "Everything in nature has a purpose in life. God created all things for a good purpose and hemp is one of them. If the drug usage is the issue, marijuana is safer than alcohol anyway. We'd be better off getting rid of the bars."