31. Hemp is a strong, cane‐like plant known throughout the world for its durability and versatility. Hemp is used to make ropes, blankets, paper, and many other useful products. In the United States, however, the hemp industry and its supporters struggle for legitimacy. The U.S. government is concerned that hemp producers might grow hemp to sell as marijuana. Hemp, although a variety of the cannabis species, contains less than one percent of THC, which is the active ingredient of marijuana. To get high from hemp, a person would have to smoke about ten hemp cigarettes.
As a result of its concern, the U.S. government discourages the production and use of hemp and its products in America. Instead, it approves the destruction of millions of trees annually to produce newspapers and hundreds of other paper products that get thrown away every day. All those paper products can be made from hemp.
Hemp was discovered in Asia thousands of years ago. It is cultivated worldwide. Hemp can grow quickly to heights of 15 feet or more in many different climates and soils. It needs little care to achieve its full growth.
Hemp matures in one growing season. It's used in many products, from paper to beauty products to clothing. Like bamboo, it is used in the construction industry. Hemp is healthful, too—its seeds produce a nutritious flour and oil.
Despite all hemp's beneficial—and non‐drug—uses, the U.S. government continues to argue that the use of hemp might lead to increased use of marijuana. Marijuana, says the government, is the gateway drug to more dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroin. Apparently, the government believes that hemp could be the gateway drug (ten cigarettes to get high) to the gateway drug marijuana (one "joint," or often less, to get high).
While focused on the individual dangers and societal decay that might result from ten hemp cigarettes, the U.S. government does little to prevent the thousands of deaths, injuries, and illnesses caused annually by tobacco and alcohol—two of the most addictive, dangerous, popular (and profitable)—drugs in the world. In fact, the government also does nothing to discourage gambling, as most states now have state lotteries, and many states have gambling casinos. All three industries contribute to the government's bottom line.
Perhaps hemp producers could win government support if they just focused on demonstrating how much money that hemp production, products, and sales could contribute to government coffers. 9.7, 408
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