Thursday, March 29, 2007

Happy Hemptime

Here's a link to an editorial the Register ran earlier this week endorsing a bill in the California legislature to permit California farmers to grow industrial hemp. It's been a long time coming. I wrote my first column -- and to my knowledge (and Jack Herer told me so as well) the first in a mainstream publication -- on industrial hemp in 1988. It came after I met Jack, author of "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," at a Free Press Association convention, read his book, checked out the references and found independent sources for the most controversial claims.

Largely because of Jack's work lots of people now know that hemp is the strongest natural fiber known, that it has been used for fiber, food, clothing, paper, rope, canvas (a Dutch word derived from cannabis) and much more, including auto parts. The fact that the federal government has tried persistently to keep American farmers from growing what used to be a staple crop as part of their idiotic War on Marijuana is an unconscionable outrage. In the not-too-distant future people will look back on these policies in wonder that so many people could have believed such absurdities about a plant, one of God's gifts to humankind, as we now wonder at people who were convinced the earth was flat.

I must pay some tribute to Chuck DeVore, Republican Assemblyman from Irvine, for being a principal co-sponsor (along with Mark Leno, a very liberal Democrat from San Francisco) of this bill two years running. (It passed the legislature last year but Ahnold vetoed it for utterly absurd reasons.) I've known Chuck since well before he ran for office, and while he's more conservative than I might like on some issues -- he would like the U.S. to have a much more aggressive foreign policy than I think wise -- he's intelligent and willing to take on an issue some would deem unconservative if he can be convinced that the facts warrant it.

I note that Tom McClintock, probably the most prominent conservative in the legislature, has also endorsed the hemp bill. If only more conservatives were willing to look at the drug war a bit more dispassionately.

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