- March 6 - The Resource Conservation Alliance (RCA) has asked the Bush administration to reconsider a decision, made in the final weeks of the Clinton presidency, that maintains the federal government’s ban on the cultivation of the crop industrial hemp. The decision was in response to a petition filed by a coalition of farm, manufacturing, and environmental groups.
In March 1998, the coalition petitioned the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt regulations permitting American farmers and businesses to obtain licenses to grow industrial hemp in designated areas and subject to federal inspection. The coalition asked the Clinton Administration to take a leadership role in advancing this process. But on December 19, 2000, DEA denied the petition.
Industrial hemp was grown in the United States for most of our history, from the time George Washington and Thomas Jefferson cultivated it, to the days when hemp material was used in covered wagons heading west, to the USDA "Hemp for Victory" campaign to meet military needs in World War II. Industrial hemp can make fabrics, building materials, paints, foods, oils and many other products. Used as a paper product, it can help reduce depletion of American forests. It may also prove to be a useful substitute for petroleum products, from fuels to plastics. Today, industrial hemp is grown by nations around the world, from Canada to Western Europe, Russia and China. Yet, Americans must import hemp products, rather than make them ourselves, because DEA bans its cultivation.
"At a time when the American farmer is facing a devastating farm crisis and farm states around the country are passing pro-industrial hemp legislation, banning this crop shows a disregard for America’s genuine interests," said Leda Huta, the director of the Resource Conservation Alliance. "We want the Bush Administration to take a fresh look at this issue and at the value of industrial hemp for America’s economy and environment."
While it is related to the plant marijuana, scientific research demonstrates that industrial hemp cannot be used effectively as a drug. Countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and France have steadily increased hemp cultivation without encountering greater difficulties in enforcing drug laws. The coalition’s proposed rules would address law enforcement concerns by requiring licenses and consent to inspection for Americans wishing to grow industrial hemp.
"By acting contrary to the rest of the industrialized world, our government has sent a clear message of indifference to the plight of the nation’s farmers," stated Huta. "In asking the Bush Administration to reconsider our proposal, we are hopeful that the scientific and factual evidence about industrial hemp will prevail."
The coalition backing the petition includes national retailers like The Body Shop and Patagonia, manufacturers like Interface, Inc., a leading carpet maker, national environmental groups and organizations representing American farmers. A copy of the 1998 petition and the letter requesting the Bush administration to reconsider the decision made in the final weeks of the Clinton presidency is available on the Internet at http://www.rca-info.org/reconsider.html.
Or, go directly to the Industrial Hemp Petition.