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Legalize hemp

Overlooked in the ongoing debate on marijuana is the fact that legalization of pot would also legalize industrial hemp production in California (passed twice by the legislature but vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger).

At the founding of our country, all farmers and anyone with land grew hemp as it had been a staple for producing textiles for centuries. Hemp fixes nitrogen in the soil eliminating the need to let fields go fallow, and it reduces the need for expensive fertilizers.

What changed was the development of synthetic fiber and fertilizer from oil by a new company called Dupont that launched a lobbying campaign to criminalize the production of hemp by linking it to its drug-producing cousin – marijuana.

Some would argue that oil-based products are cheaper to make; but if that were true, there would be no need to criminalize hemp.

They may not realize it now, but industrial hemp production would be a real boon to California farmers. And legalization could open up a whole new manufacturing opportunity and provide much needed jobs.

Now that the governor has decriminalized pot, he should be petitioned to legalize hemp. If not, why not?