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Originally published: 2014-02-12 19:43:12
Last modified: 2014-02-12 19:43:58

Farm bill legalizes experimental hemp cultivation in some Appalachian states

Caroline Harris / (caroline.harris@averyjournal.com)

With the passage of the Farm Bill, it seems that hemp is poised to return from its banishment as a cultivated crop in the US, and with it, all kinds of anecdotes about the plant’s history.

A few examples coming out of the woodwork include that early drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on paper made from hemp. Thomas Jefferson said of the plant, "hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country". The Gutenberg Bible was printed on hemp paper. Industrial cultivation of hemp reached its peak for use in the war effort during WWII. A patriotic short film in 1942 sang its praises: “hemp for mooring ships, hemp for tow lines, hemp for tackle and gear, hemp for countless naval uses both on ship and shore. Hemp for victory!”

In light of the modern status of hemp in the US, these examples seem a bit shocking.

Growing this cousin of the marijuana plant has been controversial since its ban in the 1970s under the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp contains a negligible amount of the chemical THC, which is found in marijuana, and the hemp plant is also different in appearance from the marijuana plant. However, hemp and marijuana were not differentiated when declared a Class 1 substance under the Act. Since then, the occasional permit has been issued for small, experimental hemp crops, but cultivation of the plant has been mostly illegal on both state and federal levels.

Last February, a bill was introduced in congress by a bi-partisan group of senators to federally legalize hemp in states that have already allowed it; California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.



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