Ron Paul Hopes Hemp History Week Will Reap More Co-sponsors for Legalization Bill

Jack Herer, “the self-described Emperor of Hemp”, passed away nearly a month ago, but that doesn’t mean his dream died with him.

Roll Call reports, “Hemp History Week might not earn anyone time off work, but Rep. Ron Paul still thinks it’s worth celebrating.”

The Texas Republican and erstwhile presidential candidate on Thursday submitted a statement to the Congressional Record recognizing next week, May 17-23, as Hemp History Week and urging his colleagues to pass legislation legalizing hemp farming. In the statement, which hemp advocates are touting as a big endorsement for their cause, Paul notes that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both grew the leafy crop.

Paul’s arguments focused on the potential economic effect of legalizing hemp — probably making for a stronger case than the beauty of those hemp necklaces found on the necks of half the attendees of any given Widespread Panic concert. “Unfortunately, because of a federal policy that does not distinguish between growing industrial hemp and growing marijuana, all hemp products and materials must be imported,” Paul said. “The result is high prices, outsourced jobs, and lost opportunities for American manufacturing.”

A post at details activists’ plans for the week: “A joint project of Vote Hemp and the Hemp Industries Association, Hemp History Week is looking for patriotic Americans to participate in and attend events in their state as part of a national grassroots, media and public education campaign.”

Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit advocacy group founded in 2000 by members of the hemp industry to remove barriers to industrial hemp farming in the U.S. through education, legislation and advocacy. We work to build grassroots support for hemp through voter education, registration and mobilization, as well as defend against any new laws, regulations or policies that would prohibit or restrict hemp trade.

Industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive, low-THC, oilseed and fiber varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp has absolutely no use as a recreational drug.

The groups “hope to collect at least 50,000 signed post cards urging President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to end the status quo and let farmers grow versatile and profitable industrial hemp.”

“Madam Speaker, I rise to speak about Hemp History Week,” Paul said last week on the floor. “To celebrate the American heritage of growing industrial hemp, the Hemp Industries Association, Vote Hemp, several American manufacturers, and allied companies and organizations have declared May 17 to May 23 to be Hemp History Week. Throughout the week, people will recognize America’s legacy of industrial hemp farming and call for reinstating respect for farmers’ basic right to grow industrial hemp.”

Industrial hemp was legally grown throughout our country for many years. In fact, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew industrial hemp and used it to make cloth. During World War II, the federal government encouraged American farmers to grow hemp to help the war effort.

Despite industrial hemp farming being an important part of American history, the federal government has banned cultivation of this crop. In every other industrialized country, industrial hemp, defined to contain less than 0.3 percent THC–the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, may be legally grown. Nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming industrial hemp. Unfortunately, because of a federal policy that does not distinguish between growing industrial hemp and growing marijuana, all hemp products and materials must be imported. The result is high prices, outsourced jobs, and lost opportunities for American manufacturing.

Reintroducing industrial hemp farming in the United States would bring jobs to communities struggling in today’s economy, provide American farmers with another crop alternative, and encourage the development of hemp processing factories near American hemp farming.

Paul noted that he introduced his Industrial Hemp Farming Act (HR 1866) [To amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana, and for other purposes.], “five years ago to end the federal government’s ban on American farmers growing industrial hemp.”

The bill currently has 21 cosponsors:

Tammy Baldwin [D-WI2]
Earl Blumenauer [D-OR3]
John Campbell [R-CA48]
William Clay [D-MO1]
Steve Cohen [D-TN9]
Peter DeFazio [D-OR4]
Sam Farr [D-CA17]
Barney Frank [D-MA4]
Raul Grijalva [D-AZ7]
Maurice Hinchey [D-NY22]
Michael Honda [D-CA15]
Dennis Kucinich [D-OH10]
Tom McClintock [R-CA4]
James McDermott [D-WA7]
George Miller [D-CA7]
Jared Polis [D-CO2]
Dennis Rehberg [R-MT]
Dana Rohrabacher [R-CA46]
Janice Schakowsky [D-IL9]
Fortney Stark [D-CA13]
Lynn Woolsey [D-CA6]

Last April, RAW STORY’s Stephen Webster reported, “The legislation, if passed by the House and Senate, would amend the Controlled Substances act and overturn a portion of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act which decimated America’s industrial hemp industry by simply lumping the plant in with its high-inducing counterpart, marijuana.”

Jack Herer, as the LA Times noted last month, “was a longtime marijuana activist and the author of the landmark book ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis and the Conspiracy Against Marijuana.'” He passed away on April 15, at the age of 70, still ill “[f]ollowing a heart attack he experienced after leaving the Hempstalk festival stage in Portland last fall.”


– Article from Raw Story on May 11, 2010.