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Hemp Hemp Hooray

It’s interesting to say that one of the most controversial plants in society can help play a massive role in the agricultural and industrial world and possibly assist in preventing ecocide as we know it.

industrial hemp Cannabis sativa L also known as hemp, is a world-wide common herb known for its array of varietal uses and its potential role in the ‘Green Future’. However, because of its ties to the abused illicit psychoactive drug and counterpart, marijuana, the United States government has made it almost impossible to obtain a license to grow hemp for industrial use.

For the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, student organization, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), is continuing its fight for awareness and change of the current federal laws placed on the notorious plant. As an organization that publicizes the war on drugs and general issues concerning incarceration and higher education of drugs, members of SSDP also find that informing the public of industrial hemp legalization is essential for the future.

“We have discussed and informed the advantages of legalizing hemp to our members and believe that Cannabis, both hemp and marijuana, are important for a more sustainable country,” said Ashley Barys, a former president of SSDP at Illinois State University and a present member at U of I.

SSDP is hoping to spread awareness by participating in this year’s 2009 Global Marijuana March in May to support Cannabis legalization and help inform the public of the benefits of industrial hemp and medical marijuana. As of now, many of the world’s natural resources are in decline as a result of human activities. Many fear that the world may face ecocide without intervention.

According to Barys, industrial hemp can be used to make a variety of different products such as paper, fiber, oil, and fuel and take the place of many natural resources that are rapidly being degraded.

“It’s would play a key role in saving our environment, but it can also save our economy and educational institutions. Legalizing hemp can allow new research, generate new revenues and create more jobs for agriculture majors. At the same time, we get the benefits of saving the ecosystem,” said Christopher Meyer, a member of SSDP and a huge supporter of industrial hemp legalization.

Because the United States is the only industrialized country that does not cultivate hemp, it has to rely on importing hemp products into the country while spending more money than necessary.

“It’s a shame that a plant that has been grown for hundreds of years and can effectively help our country’s resources, has been banned because the government and public are poorly informed,” said Barys. Both Meyers and Barys believe that informing the public about the advantages of Cannabis can help undo the misinterpretations that have been previously made.

Current laws in the U.S. only allow eight states –Kentucky, Maine, Hawaii, Maryland, Vermont, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana to grow hemp for industrial purposes and research. Obtaining a permit to be able to grow hemp is extremely hard and Federal Government control is strict. The controversy lies in allowing American farmers the freedom to grow hemp freely without particular government restrictions.

On April 2nd, Congressmen Ron Paul of Texas and Barney Frank of Massachusetts introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 bill also known as H.R. 1866 to the U.S. House in hopes of finding a way to reduce reliance on natural resources and push forward to pursuing a more sustainable country.

“We’re really hoping that this time it goes through. It would be one step closer to our goals and working towards a self-sustainable country,” said Barys.