My title is misleading, but only to demonstrate the false mythology that has grown around industrial hemp. Although it is of the same species and even looks like its psychotropic cousin, cannabis sativa (or indica), contrary to what the prohibition profiteers have sold as conventional wisdom, hemp does not get you high. You would have better luck smoking about 50 yards of rope in trying to catch a buzz. The confusion arises I think mainly because for many years people used the terms interchangably to designate marijuana.
California is contemplating destroying the myth and authorizing industrial hemp cultivation in four counties. This is an entirely sensible move that would begin to catch us up to the rest of the planet, as nearly every country in the world allows its cultivation. And for good reason.
Hemp is a sustainable and environmentally friendly crop which contains less than 1 percent of THC. It is used in skin products, as fertilizer, medicine, building material, fabric, paper, fuel, and can be converted into fully biodegradable plastics. The United States is the only industrialized nation where hemp is not an established crop, much to the delight of oil, coal, and chemical industries which benefit from the ban.
As the piece points out, heavy lobbying from the above referenced industries, who would suffer profit losses if this extraordinarily beneficial plant was allowed to thrive, has prevented us from embracing sensible policy. Futher, law enforcement agencies that are predicated on prohibition, issue their favorite objection, "that the passage of such a bill would only make law enforcement more difficult because farmers might hide illegal marijuana in their legal hemp fields."
This is probably the most bogus reason to deny farmers an opportunity to cash in on the crop. No cannabis grower in their right mind would let their prize plants any where near an industrial hemp field. Cross pollination would totally ruin the THC value of the psychotropic plant. In fact, if the feds were serious about eliminating marijuana cultivation, they would cover our national forests with fields of industrial hemp themselves in order to reduce the available acreage for cultivation of the mind-expanding variety.