Friday, December 21, 2007

Industrial hemp is not marijuana

Thank you for reporting on the controversial so-called "marijuana initiatives" recently approved by Hailey voters. In future articles, please note that industrial hemp is not marijuana. Yes, they are both members of the cannabis family but hemp plants contain very little, if any, of the psychoactive agent THC. The controversy surrounding marijuana reform is a completely separate discussion from issues regarding the growing of industrial hemp and I hope your upcoming stories will more clearly express this important distinction.

The beneficial uses of hemp are numerous and throughout history hemp has been regarded as one of the world's most useful crops. In George Washington's time, most U.S. farmers were required by law to grow hemp because it had so many beneficial uses, including fabric for clothing, paper products, ropes, lotions and soil improvement. In addition, hemp is drought resistant and it's seeds, which are prized for their high Omega 3 oil content, are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet.

In 1939. the U.S. Congress, pressured by influential timber, cotton and petrochemical lobbies, made growing hemp illegal. Today the United States is one of a few countries in the world where hemp growing is outlawed. I encourage Hailey city officials to prioritize the implementation of the "industrial hemp initiative" and I look forward to the day where at least in Hailey, Idaho, growing hemp will not be a crime.

John Caccia

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