Written by Tim Johnson
Vermont’s partisans of hemp received a boost Tuesday when U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., signed on as a co-sponsor of The Industrial Hemp Farming Act.
That measure, introduced five months ago in the House by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, would remove federal restrictions on the cultivation of hemp, a crop Paul calls a non-drug variety of cannabis grown for oilseed and fiber. Hemp and other varieties of cannabis are now classified as marijuana under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and cultivation of hemp in the United States is effectively banned, requiring a special permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Hemp is used to make a wide variety of products, including clothing, drinks, skin butters and auto parts. Virtually all the hemp used in products sold in the United States is grown in more than 30 other countries, including China and Canada. Unlike marijuana, according to the pro-hemp lobby, industrial hemp has a psychoactive content so low that it won’t produce a high if smoked.
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