«constant ****SDLq»The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.” – Thomas Jefferson.
It’s ironic that the country founded on the principals of liberty and freedom still prohibits its citizens from growing a plant. I’m talking, of course, about industrial hemp, a plant that has more than 30,000 uses and is considered to be a “superfood.” This absurdity continues by the fact that hemp is allowed to be imported from other countries but is forbidden to be grown in the United States.
Did you know that the U.S. Constitution was written on hemp paper? The first American flag was made out of hemp. In the past, army uniforms were made of hemp. In 1937 Popular Science Magazine called hemp “The New Billion Dollar Crop.”
And then it was banned.
Federal laws against hemp are a prime example of how our government stifles our freedom. Under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, hemp and marijuana are classified exactly the same. To the untrained eye, I can see how the plants might seem similar. However, industrial hemp contains less than 1 percent of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Therefore, it would take a “joint” the size of a telephone pole to get any type of effect from hemp.
Farmers across our state and the country should be outraged. The farming of hemp requires little or no pesticides. Hemp also requires less water than other crops, and has deep roots that leave the soil in an improved condition after harvesting. This makes hemp one of the best possible crops for a farm to put in rotation.
Consumers should also be outraged. The retail sales of hemp in the United States are estimated to be greater than $420 million annually. That’s $420 million from a product we are forced to import.
America is in need of jobs, yet we continue to dismiss this possible market. With the decriminalization of industrial hemp, thousands of employment opportunities could be created in agriculture, marketing, distribution, sales, manufacturing, etc.
The fact that we have to be granted permission to grow a plant is an insult to our freedom. The criminalization of industrial hemp must come to an end. •
Tony Jones, a lifelong Rhode Islander, is a local musician, radio host and blogger. He currently serves as vice chairman of the Libertarian Party of Rhode Island and was the party’s 2014 candidate for lieutenant governor, running on a platform that advocates for the elimination of the office.