Hemp tied down by stupid laws

Hemp is not the same as marijuana and should be legalized.

Hemp was the plant of choice for the founding fathers of our nation. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson often praised the plant in their writings and tried to persuade others to grow it as a cash crop. Nonetheless since the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, this has not been a possibility for citizens of the United States. A new University study, however, could pave the way to change that.

The study, conducted by University researchers George Weiblen and Shannon Datwyler, identified a new and more accurate way to differentiate cannabis drug plants from nondrug plants. The method, called amplified fragment length polymorphism, generates about 100 more genetic markers per unit effort than other research techniques. This genetic “fingerprinting” of cannabis is an important first step to legalizing the growth of hemp in the United States because differentiating cannabis was not as clear in the past.

The reasons to legalize the crop are numerous. First, hemp has no drug properties. Hemp would give the United States another important natural resource. No other plant offers the versatility and potential that hemp does. Hemp fiber is stronger and softer than cotton. It is capable of producing significant quantities of paper, textiles, building materials, food, medicine, paint, detergent, varnish, oil, ink and fuel. In Minnesota specifically, a booming economy could be made around the crop because it is frost-resistant and requires little care.

Already in Canada and Europe growing hemp is perfecting legal, and this is where the United States gets most of its hemp products. There is no reason U.S. farmers should not be allowed to compete in this market. In fact, the United States had a thriving hemp economy: From 1776 to 1937, hemp was a major American crop, and textiles made from hemp were common.

Kudos to Weiblen and Datwyler for adding to the University’s rich history of research and discovery. Let’s hope their findings can be put to good use soon.