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Friday, June 15, 2012

More on Gatsby's hemp crusade

A thoughtful reader, ruminating about Sen. Ron Wyden's (R-N.Y.) courageous stand in favor of legalizing industrial hemp, asks a good question: Wouldn't it compete with wood fiber, which Oregon already makes a lot of? Another observation that the reader makes is that this is an interesting topic for Wyden to be obsessing about as people are losing their homes and his party is about to take a beating at the polls.

Comments (11)

There are plenty of uses of hemp (oil, food, textiles, etc.) that wood products are not suited to. It's an odd suggestion that it would be better for a politician to narrowly focus on political expediency and protectionism in trying to remove a national ban on a potentially very profitable crop during tough times for farmers and the economy generally.

It seems to me that if hemp actually was profitable, you'd see it being grown worldwide.

You don't, and I suspect with good reason.

Cannabis is profitable, and it's grown all over the place. Same with cotton, and other valued crops.

Wyden's push is misguided at best, stupid at worst.

Legalize it.

Around 30 countries grow it, if I'm remembering correctly. Canada has like 25,000 acres of it. Lack of processing facilities (you know, because of the whole decades of illegality thing) is a constraint. Hemp is also easy to grow on poor soils and doesn't require massive herbicide, pesticide, and fertilizer inputs, so it's got that going for it. Misguided and stupid may apply to a lot people I could name including Wyden on many topics, but on this one, he's spot on.

What's the downside of simply legalizing the crop and allowing people to plant it if they so choose? At worst, not a lot of people take it up, and it fades into Bolivian (God bless Mike Tyson), at best, it's a profitable crop that spawns associated businesses tied to its many, many uses.

Another good reason to promote hemp is all of the forests that have been clear-cut.

Hemp is a much better option for replanting than trees. Trees takes decades and are difficult to replant on steep slopes.

Hemp can be ready for harvesting in months and you can still replant trees to eventually restore the forests.

It also prevents soil erosion and protects salmon breeding streams.

Max whether it is profitable or not is beside the point. There is no rational reason growing it should be illegal.

Legalizing industrial hemp is a no brainer, and that has been the case since it was declared illegal way back when. I say let the marketplace determine if it is a commercially viable crop.

EL: I didn't say that it should be illegal because it's unprofitable. Cannibis is illegal and very profitable. What I said is that if it was a profitable crop, it'd be globally grown (and on a large-scale basis, I might add). Cary says it's hard to process because of that whole illegality thing - but that applies only to the USA; if there are 25000 acres growing in Canada, as he claims, then the argument falls apart.

Tim: that's nuts. Are you from around here? The forests have definitely not ball been clear-cut. And check out the Tongass NF in Alaska sometime for a real eye-opener.

I meant to say it's hard to process and kickstart a domestic industry here, because it's been illegal. Once legal, we could start supplying and producing some of the $400 million plus of hemp products we now import here, and grow the industry beyond that.

David Bronner, who imports 20 tons a year of hemp oil for his burgeoning soap business, would like to buy it here, and got arrested this week for protesting the senseless prohibition on it. I have yet to hear a coherent argument for maintaining a ban on a useful, harmless plant. If anyone thinks a $419 million (according to: http://www.agmrc.org/commodities__products/fiber/industrial_hemp_profile.cfmdomestic) market, never mind export opportunities, is a dead proposition, I have to disagree.

Sorry, the better link is: http://www.agmrc.org/commodities__products/fiber/industrial_hemp_profile.cfm .

They also say Canadian farmers are netting $200-$250 per acre. Go ask your local farmer if that is any good.

Jack, you are assuming that Senator Wyden is representing the people or Oregon and not the people of the state he actually lives in..

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