Proponents of a U.S. hemp industry have been encouraged by DNA evidence of the difference between industrial hemp and its cousin, marijuana. Farmers always have interest in something that will generate cash. A University of Minnesota study has obliterated the thinking that a hemp industry would hurt efforts to stop the drug trade. Exit drug issue; enter capitalist issue.
There are compelling reasons to reintroduce industrial hemp as a crop in this country. Our agricultural market is in trouble. Much land is not used to its full potential. Ecologically sound hemp requires no pesticides or herbicides, is a proven soil regenerator and stacks up well against other crops in Estimated Value Per Acre. Estimates from the N.H. Department of Agriculture and the North American Hemp Council (1999) put hemp at $450 EVPA, ahead of hay at $150, soybeans at $170, corn at $200, and cotton at $357.
These figures tell us we are making a grave mistake in not allowing a domestic hemp industry to flower. Farmers could realize a using of all nature’s resources in the constant battle to keep land productive. Entrepreneurs could establish a paper industry or a hemp-processing plant. Out bioregion could have industry that returns proceeds to nature as well as men.
Given the genetic evidence of hemp’s difference from its psychoactive sibling, there is no reason, save ignorance, why there cannot be a thriving, productive domestic hemp industry in favor of the present expensive importation of anything hemp. Hemp’s value lies in diversity, from healthy food to animal bedding, from building material to plastics, from soaps to clothing. Hemp could solve all paper problems, thereby saving valuable trees. Hemp, in partnership with other biomass, could solve fuel and energy problems. Legislators, acknowledging the value in the return, must be prodded to lead the way.