What about industrial hemp?

Kudos to Illinois State University chapter of SSDP for a very nice Hempfest event today out on the quad (and a beautiful day for it).

While I was out there, one of the students asked me what, if anything, Prop 19 had to say about industrial hemp. “Nothing, really.”

Of course, I suppose that any of the provisions of the act could apply to industrial hemp (you could grow and keep as much of it as you wanted to within a 5′x5′ plot, and you could transport an ounce of it), but that’s fairly meaningless within the context of the kinds of amounts that you’d need to, say, build a hemp home.

It’s an unfortunate fact, but industrial hemp will not be solved through state referendum. Why? It’s too big.

The problem is that, while recreational marijuana state law creates a situation where there’s no possible way for the feds to arrest even a tiny fraction, a hemp farm is too easy a target, since the feds could even come in and seize the land.

The prime example of this is in North Dakota, where the state actually did legalize the growing of industrial hemp and issued licenses to farmers. But no farmers were willing to proceed without permission from the DEA (or at least assurance that they wouldn’t be hassled), so no hemp has been grown.

This train of thought led to another…

For those people who fear that Proposition 19 will lead to marijuana big business, the fact is that federal law pretty much insures that it won’t.

If there’s anyone that the feds can go after once Prop 19 passes, it’s anyone making a big business out of it. That gives the advantage to the small guy — the 25 square foot do-it-yourself grower — the person with an ounce. The ones the feds can’t touch.

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