The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar

Splash! Summer guide

HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Monday, February 17, 2014, 1:00 a.m.
In Our View/2014 Farm Bill


Slow, but progress on hemp

Congress and President Obama took a too-small step toward common sense with an amendment tucked inside the mammoth farm bill the president signed on Feb 7. But a step nonetheless. A provision legalizes the cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes in states where industrial hemp is already legal under state law. Washington is among 10 states whose colleges and universities that can now grow hemp for research purposes.
The law supersedes our Legislature’s attempts to achieve the same results, according the Hemp Industries Association and the Washington Farm Bureau. The law defines and distinguishes industrial hemp from marijuana. It’s about time, if not decades overdue. The Drug Enforcement Agency, however, trying to confuse the issue to the end, opposed the amendment.
Marijuana and hemp are cousins, but while the plants look similar, their properties are totally different. Mainly, hemp doesn’t contain any of the psychoactive ingredients that give marijuana its “high.” A person cannot get high off hemp, a hardy and easy-to-grow crop. (Marijuana is “fussy,” not hardy and difficult to grow.) What one can do with hemp, however, is seemingly endless: It can be made into soft shirts and strong rope, it can be made into paper more easily, and with less chemicals, than wood. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper, according to the North American Industrial Hemp Council. And the DEA may be surprised to know, it was grown commercially in the U.S. until the 1950s. All the hemp products now available here, of course come from somewhere else.
In 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of legal hemp products, up from $1.4 million in 2000. Most of that growth was seen in hemp seed, which finds its way into granola bars and other products.
Which is why the new law, while finally acknowledging reality, doesn’t go far enough. What’s the point of only allowing hemp to be grown for research purposes? The whole point is to allow farmers to cultivate it and others to make products from it. Farmers and industry are still shut out of a lucrative market as more than 30 countries, including Canada, but dominated by China, grow hemp as an agricultural commodity.
“The market opportunities for hemp are incredibly promising — ranging from textiles and health foods to home construction and even automobile manufacturing,” said Eric Steenstra, the president of Vote Hemp. “This is not just a boon to U.S. farmers, this is a boon to U.S. manufacturing industries as well.”
Well, once it gets beyond the research phase, it will indeed be a boon.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

Herald Editorial Board

Peter Jackson, Opinion Editor: pjackson@heraldnet.com (@PeterJHerald)

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet highlights

Taking back Church Creek Park
Taking back Church Creek Park: Stanwood students team to rid park of drugs, vandalism
He thinks he can dance
He thinks he can dance: Lynnwood man competes on Fox TV dance show
The pool quandary
The pool quandary: When is the right time for kids' swim lessons?
Small steps, big win
Small steps, big win: Casino manager commits to healthy living