Tag Archives: 420

Hemp legalization added to Senate farm bill

Hemp legalization added to Senate farm bill

By Stephen C. Webster

In a last minute addition to the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has submitted an amendment that would legalize the production of industrial hemp, a potential new bumper crop for U.S. farmers.

“Industrial hemp is used in many healthy and sustainable consumer products. However, the federal prohibition on growing industrial hemp has forced companies to needlessly import raw materials from other countries,” Wyden said in prepared text. “My amendment to the Farm Bill will change federal policy to allow U.S. farmers to produce hemp for these safe and legitimate products right here, helping both producers and suppliers to grow and improve Oregon’s economy in the process.”

Allowing American farmers to produce industrial hemp, which is different from its more notorious cousin marijuana, would yield significant and immediate profits the first year, according to an analysis conducted in 1998 (PDF) by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky.

Researchers found that farmers in the state of Kentucky alone could see between $220 to $605 in net profits per acre of hemp. Adjusted for inflation using the consumer price index, those 1998 dollars would actually be worth $310 and $854 today, although the study’s authors note that variables in supply and demand for hemp could change that valuation.

The average price farmers are getting on an acre of corn, which has been falling thanks to relatively strong supply this year, clocked in at roughly $921 according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures out last week, but their overall take drops significantly due to the costs of production, leaving them in the $200 range on net profits. While a legalized hemp industry would likely never become as essential to Americans as corn, the potential for a high value crop and hundreds of millions, if not billions, in new economic activity is clear.

“This is the first time since the 1950s that language supporting hemp has come to the floor of the House or Senate for a vote. The last time such language was presented was the Miller’s Amendment to the Marihuana Tax Act,” Eric Steenstra, president of the advocacy group Vote Hemp, said in an advisory. “The time is past due for the Senate as well as President Obama and the Attorney General to prioritize the crop’s benefits to farmers and to take action… With the U.S. hemp industry valued at over $400 million in annual retail sales and growing, a change in federal policy to allow hemp farming would mean instant job creation, among many other economic and environmental benefits.”

It’s not clear if the bill has a shot, however. Conservative groups like the Club for Growth are urging Senators to vote against the farm bill, which is under consideration this week, because it has too many attachments unrelated to the agricultural sectors.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), has also called on other Senators to stop adding unrelated amendments, which the Senate spent much of Wednesday doing. If the Senate’s top partisans cannot find an agreeable solution to limiting the bill’s amendments, it is likely to languish and die.

The federal government does not differentiate between marijuana and industrial hemp, but it allows the importation of thousands of products made from industrial hemp. President Barack Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, warned as recently as April in comments made online that industrial hemp was a “controlled substance,” which sent hemp advocates on a rhetorical tirade.

Bills seeking to legalize industrial hemp have cleared at least one legislative chamber in 17 states overall, including Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia, where those bills became law. Scientists say the psychoactive component of marijuana is almost completely undetectable in hemp.
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The Marijuana Tax Act Changed Everything

74 Years Ago This Month, The Marijuana Tax Act Changed Everything

By Jasen T. Davisharry

According to a report by Jon Gettman, who has a Ph.D. in public policy and regional economic development from George Mason University, the war on cannabis costs U.S. taxpayers $42 billion per year.

Gettman is also the leader of the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, and is the former head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

He based his calculations on U.S. government statistics and official federal reports, concluding that the business of cannabis in the country is worth $113 billion dollars. If taxed, the potential revenue stream from taxing this local economy would be significant.

What this means is that every year, instead of using those billions to help the American people, the government spends billions monitoring, arresting and jailing its citizens . . . all because of The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

How did we get here? When America was first founded, hemp was cultivated by everyone—included George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Hemp was grown for rope and paper. Yes, the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp, and hemp’s relative, cannabis, was prescribed as a cure for a variety of medical ailments.

George Washington hempHemp grows at a faster rate than timber. Hemp paper is naturally non-polluting and acid free, since converting trees into paper requires a highly toxic procedure known as the wood pulp sulfide process.

One man, William Randolph Hearst, made quite a profit from his pulp timber and paper mills. Hemp paper was superior, but the process to produce it was labor-intensive. Hearst and the Dupont company, which held the patent on the wood pulp sulfide process, made a lot of money turning trees into paper.

When an invention called the decorticator began to catch on in America in 1935, Hearst and Dupont stood to lose a fortune. If hemp could be mass-produced because of the decorticator, which eliminated the need for hours of labor, timber paper would go the way of the dinosaurs.

At the time Dupont’s main source of finance was Mellon Bank. Andrew Mellon was chairman of Mellon Bank and the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. Pulling strings, he appointed Harry Anslinger as commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

With Anslinger in place, Mellon had nothing to fear. Anslinger was married to his niece. Mellon began to appear before congress in dramatic hearing, citing dubious sources and appealing to prejudice, claiming that smoking cannabis caused everything from dementia to violence to rape.

This was fueled, naturally, by the propaganda campaign waged by Hearst. Even though government and medical studies at the time had long-reported the health benefits of cannabis consumption, Hearst used his publishing empire to generate reports fueled by racial prejudice and dumb hysteria to sway public opinion, and Congress effectively made hemp illegal on Aug. 2, 1937.

Today the same companies that stand to lose from the legalization of hemp and cannabis employ the same strategies to maintain their profit margins. Public opinion is changing, and the discussion to legalize the plant is a lot more mainstream than it once was.

With enough work, proponents for cannabis legalization could possibly overturn decades of ill-conceived legislation to finally make hemp legal again. Perhaps the curse of 1937 might be lifted, and a once-great source of revenue could once again benefit our country.

Voice of Reason

When Harry J. Anslinger was waging his war against cannabis, a cooler head prevailed in the form of New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who was an opponent of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. In response to reports of the “dangers” of marijuana, La Guardia in 1939 commissioned the New York Academy of Medicine to study the effects of smoking cannabis. In the end, the study (released in 1944) disproved all of the claims by Anslinger and all other pot propagandists.

Article from Culture Magazine

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