There is a very profitable, job-creating, environmentally outstanding yet often overlooked side to the cannabis question. And while R.I haws and hems, other states are ready to reap.

I’m talking hemp – the B-side, the  sober cousin, the multi miraculous weed that does not get you high but could do wonders for raising Rhode Island spirits.

Hemp, the non-THC side of the cannabis family has been used for centuries all over the world for its many and varied remarkable properties – as food source (more digestible complete protein than soy);  as biomass fuel  (cleaner and cheaper  than coal, wood, or gas;  as a building product  (stronger than steel, malleable and moldable  – hemp built homes are impervious to weather , more energy efficient, and   self air-cleaning).

Hemp cam be used instead of most toxic petrochemicals and will soon be used  to make biodegradable plastics.

Paper made from hemp does not require acid preparation, creates fewer chemical by-products, lasts longer, and can be recycled  more times.. Hemp fabrics  are stronger more durable than cotton  – and  require FAR fewer pesticides. Replacing cotton fields with hemp could drastically increase yield and eliminate 25% of the world’s pesticides.

Hemp is not only a quick and ecologically friendly crop to grow; Hemp actually cleans soils it grows in.  Because of its structure, hemp  is a fast and remarkable bio-remedial agent: it sucks up carbons and chemicals. Hemp has been used   for years to clean chemical spills. It is  now being used for land reclamation  at  both the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear radioactive disaster sites.

Our current ignorance about this multi-talented natural weed  is yet another manmade, U.S. government deceit. In fact the founding fathers of the United States all grew hemp. During World War II the U.S. subsidized farmers to step up production.  (watch Hemp for Victory, 1942).

But in the 1960’s hemp, cannabis sativa, got painted with the same bright neon-horror- red  broad ( watch Reefer Madness) brush  that marijuana, cannabis indica, was.   To this day  the United States  is the only industrial nation not growing industrial hemp and classifying it  ( with  its 0.3&% THC ) as a dangerous schedule 1  drug.

Anyone with common sense – and even Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and the conservative American Farm Bureau Federation wants the ridiculous   prohibition lifted, classification  status changed and  hemp grown in the U.S.A. again.

Hemp is still being used in America to the tune of about $500 million dollars a years going overseas to import it.  In fact, the U.S.  government is now increasing its hemp purchases from the Ukraine as an agro-political humane gesture.

President Barack Obama opened university research doors to industrial hemp in February.  Shame on us if we’re not in line to get in the game.  Thirty-two states have hemp bills pending this year.  Bills have already passed in ten (including Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine).

Hemp , or low-THC cannabis, is poised to become the preferred delivery choice for many medicinal cannabis uses and  pharmaceutical companies are already manufacturing in Europe. We could be researching through Brown medical and manufacturing through URI’s  pharmacology program.

RISD and  Rhode Island artisans  could  be growing, designing, and processing textiles and fabrics from hemp, while the plant  could be  reclaiming  the many brownfields created by former textile (and other) industries.

Rhode Island has already made tremendous green strides in restoring waterways and reclaiming lost environmental treasures.  Let’s restore lost agricultural and economic opportunities too.

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