Drug war’s mission creep hurts farmer

By: A. Barton Hinkle

Every war produces collateral damage, including America’s war on drugs — whose manifold victims include any number of farmers in Virginia. Jim Politis has a plan to help them. But first, he will have to get it past Congress.
Politis is a retired businessman who now sits on the Board of Supervisors in Montgomery County, home to Virginia Tech. He wants Washington to let farmers grow industrial hemp. That should be an easy sell. Once upon a time, hemp cultivation was not only permitted but required: An act of Virginia’s General Assembly in 1623 mandated hemp-growing.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. It remained a popular source of fiber for rope, clothing and many other products until the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which pretty much killed off domestic hemp production.
The industry enjoyed a revival during WWII, when Japanese forces cut off the hemp supply from the Philippines. Washington even produced a “Hemp for Victory” propaganda film. Then the war ended, and the lid slammed shut again.
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