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US DC: PUB LTE: Overheated Hype About Hemp URL: Newshawk: Jo-D Harrison Dunbar Pubdate: Sat, 15 May 1999 Source: Washington Post (DC) Page: A21 Copyright: 1999 The Washington Post Company Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071 Feedback: Website: Author: Erwin A. Sholts, North American Industrial Hemp Council Note: Original LTE printed at bottom


Jeanette McDougal of Drug Watch/Minnesota badly misled your readers about an important issue of public policy: whether America's farmers should be permitted to grow industrial hemp, as farmers are permitted to do in England, Canada, France and Germany [Free for All, May 8]. McDougal says no, claiming that industrial hemp is marijuana, and that in any event industrial hemp is not an "economic" crop. She could not be more mistaken.

In the first place, industrial hemp is not marijuana. Industrial hemp is legally grown throughout Europe and Canada precisely because it has too low a concentration of cannabis's psychoactive ingredient (THC) -- often three-tenths of one percent or less -- to make it possible to use it as a drug. Moreover, growing industrial hemp is an effective way to undermine marijuana cultivation. This is because industrial hemp degrades, through cross-pollination, the potency of marijuana that is anywhere near it.

McDougal's contention that no market exists for industrial hemp is false. This country has a multimillion-dollar hemp market -- for hemp may be legally imported into the United States, even though, illogically, it cannot be grown here. Thus, American farmers are forbidden to supply not only our own domestic market for industrial

hemp but also the larger international market. The harm to our farmers is particularly severe, since the price for industrial hemp is good, and will stay good, because of the large and growing list of products that can be made from it. The plant's long fibers and oil are ideal for paper, carpets, building products, fabrics, lotions and many other uses. Recognizing this, legislatures in North Dakota, Virginia, Minnesota and Montana recently have legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp, and other states are moving in the same direction.

While wheat today nets a farmer in McDougal's state only $25 an acre, industrial hemp nets a Canadian farmer right across the border more than $250 an acre. It is depression time in rural America. Industrial hemp -- an easily grown, easily processed, rotational crop that replenishes the soil and is significantly more profitable than wheat -- can potentially help save many Minnesotans' and others' family farms from the auction block.

Our organization -- including our counsel, James Woolsey, whom McDougal attacks personally -- is composed entirely of those who support the legal and regulated cultivation of industrial hemp for industrial products. None of us supports marijuana legalization. Our board includes representatives of American agriculture and industry, as well as distinguished scientists. McDougal falsely identifies as members of our board two individuals who resigned some time ago and makes a great deal out of the alphabetical order of another

organization's Web site listing. The issue of industrial hemp is far too important to be debated on the basis of such ill-informed and frivolous attacks.

Erwin A. Sholts

The writer is chairman of the North American Industrial Hemp Council.

Original LTE:


Saturday, May 8, 1999; Page A17

It is shocking that former CIA director James Woolsey -- at one time the chief intelligence gatherer for the whole United States -- failed to properly gather information about his client, North American Industrial Hemp Council (NAIHC). Woolsey assures us that none of NAIHC's members wears tie-dyed shirts [Federal Page, April 30]. Perhaps he should check their boxers. Some of the group's members and directors are vigorous pro-drug advocates.

Had he checked, lobbyist Woolsey would have discovered that founding member and immediate past-NAIHC vice president David Morris has been pushing legalization of marijuana, marijuana cigarettes for medicine and industrial cannabis hemp for years in his columns in the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press.

Another board member, Andrew Graves, is party to a lawsuit brought by the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative to force the federal government to legally permit the growing of industrial cannabis (marijuana) hemp. The two lead lawyers in the suit -- Michael Kennedy of New York and Burl McCoy of Kentucky -- are on the roster of NORML, the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, an aggressive pro-marijuana legalization advocate.

Surfing the 'Net would have further edified lobbyist Woolsey. He could have observed for himself the hemp-marijuana drug connection; he could see for himself that NAIHC appears in alphabetical order right after NORML, the Lindesmith Center, Marijuana Policy Project and other pro-marijuana organizations on the International Hemp Association Web site.

Had Woolsey done a proper background check on "industrial hemp," he would have found that the market does not support the need for another expensive, labor-intensive, hard-to-process, bast fiber, "industrial hemp." We are keenly aware, as should Woolsey be, that industrial cannabis hemp can be refined or "cut" for marijuana street dealing. That is exactly one of the reasons NORML and other pro-drug groups support Woolsey and the NAIHC effort.

It is my hope that upon review of so-called "industrial hemp," Woolsey will honorably resign.

Jeanette McDougal

The writer is co-chair of Drug Watch/Minnesota.