There are numerous undeniably beneficial reasons to legalize hemp. U.S. imports of hemp and hemp products increased more than 300% over the last decade. We are spending millions (or more) on the plant when we could be making millions instead. The problem, however, is that industrialized hemp remains banned by the federal government while hemp products do not. This means we must buy our hemp from other countries – countries who are seriously profiting from our growing demand. I gave you some reasons for hemp legalization last week. But, if that wasn’t enough, here are some more:
Hemp was Once Grown in Every Household
Did you know hemp was grown by the founding fathers of this nation? It was. In 1619, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law requiring every household to grow the crop. It’s value was undeniable and it was even used as legal tender in early colonies. As recently as World War II, the federal government subsidized the plant. This means they actually paid U.S. farmers to grow it. For fuel, textiles, rope, animal bedding and feed—hemp’s use in the United States is far from a new occurrence. While hemp remains illegal, the U.S. government is subsidizing much safer (sarcasm) GMO crops.
Not all age-old practices are acceptable, but this one is.
Hemp is Green
In addition to being historically cultivated (and prized), hemp production is measured “greener” than many other crops. It’s sustainable and can be grown in the same plot of land year after year, not depleting the soil like some other crops. It can actually be used as a rotation crop, helping to regenerate the soil normally used to grow things like soybeans. Further, the plant doesn’t need as much fertilizer as corn, nor does it need to swim in pesticides. When planted with other crops, the roots can prevent runoff and erosion while the leaves can protect paired plants from the elements.
Hemp actually removes soil contaminants. Phytoremediation removes a variety of toxins from the soil including pesticides, metals, oil, and even nuclear contaminants. Its system of roots acts as a filter, stabilizing contaminants within the soil. Hemp was even planted at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to help remove nuclear toxins.
Finally, with the national unemployment rate hovering somewhere near 8% (an estimate quite low in reality), legalizing industrial hemp could bring jobs back to the country. Currently, we are employing workers in other countries to supply hemp products to meet our demands—to the tune of $400 million in retail sales alone in 2010. Not only could legalizing hemp give farmers another source of viable income, it could create an hemp production, manufacturing, and distribution industry.
We aren’t talking about marijuana here, the plant that gets you high (though that should be legal too). This is hemp – the cannabis plant that doesn’t offer psychoactive effects. And while there are sufficient reasons for legalizing pot, the legalization of this particular plant offers reasons of its own, namely as a potential windfall for a beleaguered economy and a return to what the originators of this country rightfully saw as a crucial natural resource. And of course, rights and freedom.