The bill is being sponsored by California Senator Mark Leno who says that the state is missing a "golden opportunity" by not allowing farmers to produce hemp.
Leno addressed the issue on his blog last week:
If you like shopping at your local natural foods or specialty grocery store, you’ve probably noticed the growing popularity of hemp as an ingredient in food and skin care products. Hemp seed, which is high in protein and essential fatty acids, is found in everything from bread, energy bars and waffles to coffee and protein powder. Thanks to its natural antioxidants and moisturizing oil, hemp is also a common ingredient in soaps, shampoos and lotions. Perhaps your favorite T-shirt is even made of hemp, which is an excellent alternative to cotton.
Even though most of these consumer products are created by California companies, our farmers are prohibited from growing industrial hemp. Instead of buying hemp from local farmers, local manufacturers are importing thousands of dollars of hemp seed, oil and fiber from growers overseas.
California farmers are missing out on a golden opportunity to tap into the growing industrial hemp products business of food, clothing, shelter, paper and fuel, which would greatly benefit our state’s economy and family farmers. Industrial hemp is a perfect, environmentally sustainable crop for our state. It requires little or no pesticides and herbicides and produces two to four times more fiber than an acre of timber. Hemp grows quickly, can be harvested every 90 days and is a great rotational crop, especially for organic farmers.The Chronicle applauds Leno's efforts to bring some common sense to the issue of hemp. Why should foreign growers and producers reap the profits from the hemp industry when we can grow it right here at home? Selling products made from hemp isn't illegal in the U.S., so why should growing hemp be illegal?
Since hemp has no psychoactive properties and can't be used as a drug like it's cousin marijuana, I can only assume that big business is behind the push to keep it illegal. I'm sure the lumber companies and the paper companies and the cotton growers and the oil producers are sending every lobbyist they've got to try and stop this thing. Hemp is better, safe and cleaner than almost all of the products it would replace if legal.
If our country wasn't run by mega-corporations whose only motivation is the BOTTOM LINE, we might be able to advance some of these ideas that would benefit the common good, but until then I'm afraid the dollar is king and we the people just don't matter.
We urge California lawmakers and Governor Brown to end the madness and pass SB-676. It will bring in revenue for local farmers, gives us better products and help protect the environment. What's the down side?