Monday marked the beginning of the 1st Annual Hemp History Week. Organizers hope the event will renew support for hemp farming in the United States through events across the country aimed at raising awareness of hemp’s rich history in America. Due to the plant’s versatility and nutritional benefits, hemp is currently used in foods, textiles, body care products and auto-parts. However, because it is illegal to grow in the U.S., companies must import their hemp from other countries. Hemp History Week hopes to demonstrate the tremendous benefits of growing this profitable and versatile crop in America.
Hemp History Week also features a letter writing campaign, which organizers anticipate will produce 50,000 hand-signed postcards addressed to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an end to the ban on hemp farming.
Currently, the DEA doesn’t distinguish between “non-drug” industrial hemp and marijuana. And while both should be legalized, farmers risk federal raids for growing hemp. For the last four years, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture has issued licenses to farmers allowing them to grow industrial hemp. However, despite the state’s authorization, the farmers are still at odds with the federal government.
While many American companies would prefer to support local farming – which would prove beneficial to farmers and reduce costs for consumers – these businesses are being forced to look elsewhere for their hemp.
According to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), “Hemp was an important crop for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and thousands of American farmers until it was outlawed completely in 1970 by the Controlled Substances Act. I know many farmers in my district could benefit greatly from the renewed freedom to rotate industrial hemp into their growing seasons. Hemp History Week will help other elected officials learn about America's rich hemp heritage along with the tremendous benefits of growing hemp in America once again”