With marijuana on pace to be legalized in the United States in the next five to ten years, the conversation regarding hemp has begun to stir up. Hemp and marijuana are commonly confused because they both come from the Cannabis Sativa species of plant. Hemp and marijuana were both prescribed as illegal during the Prohibition Era but the Agricultural Act of 2014 known as the Farm Bill, allowed states to study hemp for research purposes and classified industrial hemp as having .3% THC compared to marijuana’s 10-30%. On July 4, a petition will be delivered to Congress urging them to pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015/2016.
Hemp can be used to produce many things including textiles, cars, food, homes, and more according to Rob Jungmann who owns Jungmaven, a hemp-loving company. It is also good for environment unlike many other crops including cotton. Hemp puts Nitrogen back into the soil and takes less water while producing more plants per acre. Jungmann alludes to California’s drought as a great reason for hemp to be legalized in the state. Thirty countries allow industrial hemp to be grown, China being its biggest producer and exporter. Unlike any other product, the U.S. requires farmers to get DEA approval before they sew the seeds.
Michael Lewis, the director of Growing Warriors, a project devoted to helping the country’s veterans find livelihoods in sustainable agriculture, spoke of his experience with the DEA in a short film titled Harvesting Liberty. In 2014, the DEA wanted to prevent and arrest Lewis and the other farmers but a Louisville judge sided with the farmers. Growing Warriors was the first group of private citizens to grow hemp on US soil in 70 years.