Home / Articles / Commentary / National - Jim Hightower / A common sense crop for America’s common good
Print this Article
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 04:44 pm

A common sense crop for America’s common good

Four years ago, Michelle Obama picked up a shovel and made a powerful symbolic statement about America’s food and farm future: She turned a patch of White House lawn into a working organic garden. But now, as she begins another four years in the people’s mansion, the first lady is probably asking herself: “How can I top that?”

Thanks for asking, Ms. Obama, and please allow me a one-word suggestion: hemp. Plant a good, healthy stand of industrial hemp next to your organic garden!

This would, of course, drive the anti-drug zealots up the wall. “Holy J. Edgar Hoover,” they’d scream, “hemp is a distant cousin of marijuana!” Well, yes, but the industrial variety of cannabis lacks the psychoactive aspects of pot. Industrial hemp won’t make anyone high, but it would deliver a new economic and environmental high for America.

Plus, hemp production is firmly rooted in American history. Question: Besides being founders of our republic, what did Thomas Jefferson and George Washington have in common? Answer: Both farmed hemp.

The first draft of our Constitution was written on hemp paper. “Old Ironsides” was powered by sails of hemp cloth. As late as World War II, the government urgently pushed farmers to grow the crop as part of a “Hemp for Victory” program.

So why are American farmers today prohibited from producing this patriotic, profitable, pesticide-free plant? Political nuttiness. Most recently, in a frenzy of reefer madness, U.S. drug police decided that President Dick Nixon’s “Controlled Substance Act of 1970” not only outlawed marijuana, but also its non-narcotic cousin, industrial hemp.

While our nation is the world’s biggest consumer of hemp products (from rope to shampoo, building materials to food), the mad masters of our insane “drug war” have lumped hemp and marijuana together as “Schedule 1 controlled substances” – making our Land of the Free the world’s only industrialized country that bans farmers from growing this benign, profitable, job-creating and environmentally beneficial plant.

The good news, though, is that a wave of sanity is now wafting across America. In Colorado, for example, farmer Michael Bowman and Denver hemp advocate Lynda Parker helped pass Amendment 64 in last fall’s election. While it legalizes personal pot use, which got all the media attention, it also directs the legislature to set up a program for “the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp.”

Bowman now hopes to be the first American farmer in generations to plant a legal crop of it. Appropriately enough, he hopes to do so on April 30 – the 80th birthday of family-farmer hero and hemp champion Willie Nelson.

Even red states like Kentucky are on the move. Its Republican ag commissioner, backed by its Chamber of Commerce, is campaigning to legalize hemp farming there, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is cosponsoring a national bill with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden to take hemp off the controlled substance list.

As Bowman puts it: “Can we just stop being stupid?” To help move us in that direction, he’s seeking 100,000 signatures on a online petition requesting that President Obama include the words “industrial hemp” in his Feb. 12 State of the Union speech.

To sign Bowman’s petition, go to the White House website: petitions.whitehouse.gov.  

Jim Hightower is national radio commentator, columnist and author.

Log in to use your Facebook account with
IllinoisTimes

Login With Facebook Account



Recent Activity on IllinoisTimes

Calendar

  • Tue
    22
  • Wed
    23
  • Thu
    24
  • Fri
    25
  • Sat
    26
  • Sun
    27
  • Mon
    28