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Kansas should join hemp parade E-mail
Saturday, 26 July 2014 09:54

By Topeka Capital-Journal, July 21


Republican Jennifer Winn, the owner of a Wichita-area property management company, is running a very low-budget campaign for her party’s gubernatorial nomination.

No one — except perhaps Winn — expects her to wrest the party’s nomination from incumbent Gov. Sam Brownback. And few people expect the Legislature will legalize marijuana for medical purposes, one of the issues Winn is championing, anytime soon. But all that doesn’t mean Winn has no good ideas. She does, among them her promotion of industrial hemp production.

Before we go any further, we’ll note that while industrial hemp and marijuana both come from cannabis plants, hemp comes from a strain grown primarily for the fiber in its stalk. The potent marijuana people in this country and across the world are smoking these days is the product of a different strain of cannabis grown for the THC, which produces the desired high, in its leaves. Hemp grown for industrial purposes contains less than 1 percent THC, whereas marijuana can contain from 5 percent to 20 percent THC.

No self-respecting marijuana aficionado would smoke the leaves of an industrial hemp plant with all the strains of the good stuff available to them.

That’s probably why many states and Congress are pushing back on the prohibition of hemp production that’s been in place since the early part of the last century.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, many states — including Nebraska, Indiana, Utah and Montana — have passed statutes authorizing industrial hemp production. The farm bill passed earlier this year by Congress also authorized universities to grow hemp for research projects. And Canada grows hemp and looks to the United States as a market for its exports.

It appears reasonable people finally can agree to differentiate between a plant engineered to grow marijuana and one bred to grow hemp. There’s no reason Kansas and its farmers shouldn’t be allowed to examine the possibilities for hemp production and decide whether it would be a profitable crop here.

It makes little sense to continue importing a product if it can be grown profitably by our own farmers.

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