There is a rarely mentioned, multi-faceted, job-creating, totally positive side to the marijuana question and Rhode Island, on the verge of taking the final step out of a failed drug war should legalize – and do it now. Do it for the hemp of it!
I am referring to the sober country cousin of marijuana – another magical mega weed grown and used for centuries in industry, agriculture, and medicine. It is a cleaner biomass fuel than coal or wood. It is strong as steel, more nutritious than soy and is a poison-sucking bioremediation plant.
Until the 1970’s when it fell victim to the madness of “Reefer Madness” and was labeled a controlled substance, hemp was grown and used here by presidents and peasants alike . In fact, the U.S. government ordered and subsidized hemp farming During World War II.
Today, the over five hundred million dollars are spent importing hemp.
The National Conference of State Legislators have endorsed industrial hemp for years. This past February, with strong lobbying by Repulican Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) President Barack Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill with an amendment to legalize hemp production for research purposes.
So far 32 states have hemp bills pending this year; Bills have already passed in ten states (including Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine).
Rhode Island, once a world leader of invention and innovation in textile production innovation now brought to its knees should be up standing and out front on unlimited possibilities of hemp . And to not take advantage of existent trendsetting pharmacological and bio/agricultural programs at the University of Rhode Island would be shortsighted .
Our history, our size, and our already successful cannabis experience bodes well for a profitable and healthy weed addition to the economy.