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Hemp farming for a better tomorrow

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
August 28, 2006


I'm on the record as being pro-legalization of all things cannabis. Sativa or indica, medicinal, recreational, and industrial, doesn't matter. I'm pro hemp.

Currently there is legislation sitting on the Governor Schwarzenegger's desk waiting to be signed that could easily raise California's fortunes. The bipartisan bill, known as AB 1147 or the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, is a small step towards California independence.

Arnold's people say he will make a decision by late September.

The new law would give California farmers the ability to legally supply U.S. manufacturers with hemp seed, oil and fiber. The legislation, which passed the by a 2-to-1 margin in the senate, and a vote of 43-28 in the Assembly, was inspired by the fact that United States manufacturers spend millions of dollars to import hemp from Canada, China and Europe.

According to hemp advocates, the product accounted for $270 million in annual retail sales, in 2005. Sponsored by Assemblymen Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco and Chuck DeVore, a Republican from Irvine, AB 1147 would allow Californians to grow hemp and produce hemp oil, seed, and fiber for nutritional and industrial purposes.

Hemp is not marijuana. Both are members of the cannabis family, yet hemp contains only trace levels of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in recreational marijuana. Same family, different cultivars. Easily regulated and easily taxed, hemp promises to be an economic bonanza for the state.

The 21st century is the time for 21st century thinking. Hemp holds potential as an alternate energy source. More environmentally benign, hemp fuel is biodegradable, burns cleaner, and is more renewable than ethanol. A hardy plant, hemp can be grown anywhere in the state, with little bother. Hemp fuel is made from seed and is non-toxic. Sweaters are made from hemp fiber. Rope is made from hemp fiber.

The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act is smart business that promotes sustainability, self-sufficiency and ecological wisdom. When the governor signs AB1147, it will make him the greenest governor in the history of California. Decriminalization of hemp and marijuana has been a goal of the California Green Party long before it gained ballot status in 1992.

A thriving for market for hemp would drive innovation, which in turn would improve the economy through job creation. There is no reason for California not to decriminalize hemp farming other than ignorance and fear.

If Arnold really wants to win points with most Californians he would sign the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act as soon as possible. Such leadership would go along way to revitalize the California economy. Arnold would be a fool to veto this progressive bipartisan legislation, not to mention fiscally irresponsible.

As the policies of the Bush Administration continues to cripple the collective economy of the United States, the Golden State must chart it's own course to economic vitality Californians are facing a steep learning curve, and must adapt and evolve at a time of ecological uncertainty, and growing unrest.

It is Governor Schwarzenegger's job to protect the economic interests of Californians first and foremost. Allowing farmers to grow hemp does that. Allowing California manufacturers to compete in a global market with Californian grown natural resources does that too.

Governor Schwarzenegger is sworn to put California first. As Governor, Arnold should do the right thing. Arnold, a true Roosevelt Republican should embrace Green party values of energy independence self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability.

Schwarzenegger should sign HB1147, the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act. And the rest of us should encourage him to do so.

His phone number is 916-445-2841.

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