Planting hemp seeds on DEA front lawn gets farmers arrested

Industrial hemp may be one of the most versatile and environmentally benign crops out there, but because of its relationship to marijuana, the cultivation of this crop has been banned in the United States since the late thirties. Last week, a group of farmers, along with David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, staged a protest in front of the Drug Enforcement Agency in Washington, DC, and were promptly arrested for planting hemp seeds on the agency’s front lawn.

The farmers’ arrest highlights the contradictions surrounding hemp cultivation in the US: it’s perfectly legal to sell products made from the plant, but growing it can get you in trouble. As such, American farmers are missing out on an economic opportunity. Hemp’s economic and environmental value stems from a number of relatively unique qualities:

  • Its versatility: hemp’s fiber and seeds make it ideal for a wide range of products, including paper, edible oil, biofuels, plastics, and textiles.
  • Its pest resistance: Hemp is resistant to most known agricultural pests, and even provides ground cover to prevent the growth of weeds. Generally, no pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides are necessary to grow it as a cash crop.
  • Its ease on soil: Hemp cultivation helps fix nutrients in soil because the plant concentrates such elements and compounds in the leaves and roots… and the latter stays in the soil after harvest.
  • Its ease on water supplies: Hemp requires about half the amount of water for cultivation compared to crops like cotton.

While several states have legalized the cultivation of hemp, federal law has the upper hand here. The unlikely duo of Ron Paul and Barney Frank introduced legislation last Spring that would legalize the farming of non-psychoactive industrial hemp.

This one seems like a no-brainer: shouldn’t we allow our farmers to grow such a beneficial (and potentially profitable) crop? Let us know what you think…

via Chelsea Green