Why is Hemp farming illegal in the United States?

June 13, 2013

This is not a plea for the legalization of marijuana. Unfortunately, every time someone mentions hemp farming, it’s automatically assumed their interest is only in the narcotic use of the Cannabis plant instead of the industrial use that could lower our national debt, create jobs in the United States, and give manufacturers the ability to buy domestically what they can now only obtain from other countries. If you’re a consumer, you can purchase an eco-friendly shirt that is made with hemp, but you can’t make one with domestic hemp. Does that make any sense at all?

The United States is emerging from one of the worst recessions in over a century, so cost cutting and revenue generation are priorities for government and private industry alike. Legalized hemp farming offers solutions in both areas. By giving farmers free reign to grow a crop that is already in demand, we bring revenue back to the United States that is currently going out to foreign providers. That revenue means jobs in agriculture and manufacturing, two areas that have been declining in recent years. The availability of domestic hemp will also help the makers of eco-friendly clothing and organic paper products lower their costs and expand sales and marketing efforts.

There are currently nine states – Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia – that allow industrial hemp production under state law. Unfortunately federal law, which supersedes state law, prohibits growth and sales of the crop. It wasn’t always this way. In fact, during World War II the government did a public service campaign encouraging farmers to grow hemp to help the war effort. The benefits could be seen even then and the use of hemp was widespread enough to warrant national attention.

Hemp is generally grown without insecticides, unlike non-organic cotton which accounts for 16% of the world’s pesticide use. Hemp also is used to make paper, cloths, cosmetics, carpet, door frames of cars, and has even been used as an alternative automobile fuel, a bio-fuel that can help lower our dependency on foreign oil. Those are quite a few benefits, all evidence that the growing of industrial hemp is good for America. So why isn’t it legal?

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