Sunday, August 30, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hemp Seizure in Capitol Underscores Confusion Over Cannabis
Hemp Industry Seeks Beer Summit with Capitol Police
WASHINGTON, DC — Vote Hemp legislative assistant Ben Droz was shocked when Capitol Police seized his samples of industrial hemp fiber that he needed for a scheduled presentation to congressional staffers. Police refused to release the fiber after the search, while saying they knew it had no drug value and was "just hemp." The group of officers decided they needed to confiscate all the hemp seeds because no food was allowed, but the hemp fiber was also seized even though it is not food. "I just want to throw this out," said one officer, who ultimately did
Mr. Droz explained to police that the items were being used to illustrate the environmental properties of hemp. "This is just another example of the confusion between Industrial Hemp, an important crop for farmers across the country, and marijuana, a distant cousin also from the Cannabis family." The United States is the only developed country that does not recognize the distinction between the two varieties. Mr. Droz admits, "I gave up the hemp to police, fearing arrest at the time, and now feel compelled to raise this issue so it does happen again because I carry hemp every time I visit the U.S. Capitol."
"The fact that this level of confusion among law enforcement still exists today is exactly why federal policy on hemp needs to change," says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. "We hope for the return of Vote Hemp's property, an apology, and perhaps, a Capitol Hill beer summit or Congressional hearings to discuss our differences with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)."
Hemp products have been subject to confusion in the past. In 2002, the DEA attempted to ban imports on hemp foods, despite the growing recognition of its value to farmers and consumers. Vote Hemp, the Hemp Industries Association, and several U.S. and Canadian companies, successfully challenged the DEA in a lawsuit calling the ban unwarranted and illegal. Since this ban was lifted, the hemp industry has grown substantially every year. Last year alone, grocery store sales of hemp food products grew over 40%.
Since 2005, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 1866) and its predecessors have waiting for a hearing in the House, but it's been tabled the entire time. The bill has a dozen bi-partisan cosponsors, and allows states like Oregon (as of Jan. 2010), Maine, Vermont, North Dakota, Montana (and many others) to grow hemp based on State laws. Sixteen states have already passed legislation, and many, like the ones listed above, are simply waiting for the federal ban to be lifted once again. Mr. Droz has been working with Vote Hemp in order to raise congressional awareness about this marginalized issue.
The growing market proves the case of hemp. Food sales have grown every year since the ban was lifted. Other parts of the hemp plant, such as those confiscated from Droz, can be used to make any number of consumer products, while all jobs generate from the industry could be as green collar jobs.
Despite a growing global industry, U.S. farmers are still unable to grow hemp. All hemp in the U.S. must be imported from other countries to be either processed or sold here.
"It's ironic that the very items I was using to clear up confusion, became the subject of contraband and were confiscated," Mr. Droz comments after the incident.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009
I'm sorry that I didn't have the documents I should have. I didn't really know that I was going to get to sit down with you for so long. Thankfully, everything is online, so here are several links:
First of all, as far as growing trends go, new reports are coming out everyday.
Just earlier this week, on August 4th, an Oregon based hemp company (that conducts research in Vancouver) signed a deal with Hanes apparel.
About two weeks ago, BBC released a mini-documentary of a eco-car made of hemp.
I wanted to make sure to show you how instrumental Hawai'i has been throughout the years.
Here is the Dear Colleague Letter written by your boss Rep. Neil Abercrombie and former Hawai'i Rep. Patsy Mink. Hawai'i was the only state to have two Representatives come together for the State. Their letter was sent alongside another letter with 21 signatures.
Since 1999, four pieces of legislation have been passed. Hemp farming bills have been introduced several times as well. For links to all of these, please visit the Hawai'i section of our site.
Currently, there is a farming bill on the table, HB 305
Whether or not this passes, it shows that support for hemp is still thriving, if not growing.
Hawai'i is one of the only places where industrial hemp has actually been planted. A study was conducted for over two years before it had to be terminated, when administrative delays on the part of the DEA became too costly. The final report can be found here. By the end of the report, Dr. David West proved that it is certainly possible to breed a strain of hemp that can thrive in tropical environments.
Hawaii has had so much support for hemp.
In 2001, six bi-partisan state legislators wrote a letter to former president George W. Bush asking for support to grow hemp.
If you really have the time, here is a report prepared for State Representative Cynthia Thielen, democratic floor leader who became a major proponent for industrial hemp. The report, while written in 1996, is very insightful and well researched.
Hawai'i was one of the earliest hemp supporters, and throughout the years, has definitely been one of the strongest. I hope that Rep. Abercrombie sees some of this support during his recess, and reconsiders it as an issue worthy of attention.
Thank you so much for your interest in this topic. Let me know what you think about this, and certainly if you have any other questions. I would love to be in touch as I try to gain support from other Hawai'i delegates as well.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Well, I usually am too busy writing emails as a hemp lobbyist, or going out as a freelance photographer, to write blogs or keep a photo blog. Some of my photography can be viewed at the social blog Brightest Young Things. More on that later. See, I have so much to blog about!
Well, here's my email that I wrote on Monday. I had a meeting the next day with the office of Michael Michaud from Maine.
And, since that already happened, I can say the meeting went quite well.
The email is to a grassroots organization to get them to somehow get us more support. (I figured, why not try?)
Industrial Hemp is a sustainable agricultural crop that is actually good for the soil. It does not require chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides to grow, and does not require much other inputs such as water irrigation. It is a rotational crop that helps curb topsoil runoff and is a nitrogen fixer as well. It grows so fast and puts so much oxygen in the air that some applications and studies have measured a negative carbon footprint. One such example is in Hemcrete, a type of concrete made with just pure hemp and powdered lime. The footprint is negative because the carbon is actually sequestered right inside the cinderblocks. Hemp is also a great source of plant protein, grown in a much more sustainable manner than soy. Hemp is one of the fastest growing sectors of the natural products industry; here is a video from CNBC about the commercial aspects.
The State of Maine passed a bill, LD 1159, which would allow the state to license hemp farmers. However, there is still a federal ban on growing hemp. That is why we are working to gain support for HR 1866.
This Tuesday, I have a meeting with the Office of Michael Michaud of Maine. It would be great if we could get some extra calls or letters from his district. We sent out a capwiz action alert with quick links to prewritten letters and talking points for calls. http://votehemp.com/alerts/me_
Hemp is a "convenient solution" to take care of our problems with our economy and environmental crises. If the federal ban were to be lifted, carbon emissions would go down while research into green technologies would go up. Why hemp rather than other alternatives? Hemp produces more oxygen per acre than any plant; (algae is a different story)
I hope that with your help, we can get more letters to support this important issue.
FOR READING TO THE BOTTOM