News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Editorials

February 23, 2014

EDITORIAL: State’s next cash crop?

Versatile ‘weed’ offers options for farmers, businesses, workers

TERRE HAUTE — It’s historical. It was cultivated in Mesopotamia as early as 8000 B.C.

It’s resilient. It was widely used to make ships’ rigging, sails, tents, ropes, parachute webbing and military uniforms.

It’s patriotic. Betsy Ross is said to have used material made from it in the first U.S. flag from it.

It’s artistic. Rembrandt and Van Gogh painted on canvases made from it.

It’s newsmaking. The colonists printed our fledgling nation’s first newspapers on paper made from it — paper that can last hundreds of years without degrading.

It’s documented. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution on paper made from it.

It’s presidential. George Washington grew it and encouraged all citizens of his era to sow it widely.

It’s fuel-efficient. Rudolph Diesel is said to have extracted its oil to power his engines.

It’s environmental. Paper made from it can be recycled many more times than paper made from trees, and cultivating it for paper takes fewer toxic chemicals during manufacturing than does paper made from trees.

It’s all that.

And it’s banned in Indiana and 39 other states.

It’s hemp, a fast-growing, copiously spreading commodity that a reporter in our newspaper last week called “pot’s less potent cousin.”

The cousin connection is that hemp comes from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, as marijuana. But it lacks the drug effects that pot packs. The science of the matter says that hemp, compared with pot, contains much, much, much less THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical that induces a marijuana high. Hemp typically contains less than 0.33 percent THC, compared with 20 to 30 percent in marijuana.

Despite this significant difference, hemp was banned as part of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. That came after hemp had been widely cultivated and used for decades in the United States, including for many products, military and domestic, during World War II. During World War I, Indiana was among states growing hemp.

Now, as mellower perspectives are prevailing, 10 states have legalized hemp.

More states may soon follow suit, because the new federal farm bill, passed by Congress on Feb. 4 and signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 7, will let universities and state agriculture departments start industrial hemp research programs. But only in states in which hemp is legal.

Indiana needs to become state No. 11 to legalize hemp production — because of hemp’s amazing versatility as a source of a wide range of commodities, its ability to grow like a weed (because it is one) in all sorts of ground, and because there are millions of dollars for Hoosier farmers and businesses to cash in on from hemp sales.

An advocacy group called Vote Hemp estimates the U.S. market for hemp at $500 million in annual sales. Our southern neighbor, Kentucky, a hemp-legal state, appears ready to begin to tap into that market. Just last Monday its agriculture commissioner announced five state university projects to test whether planting hemp on sites formerly poisoned by industrial toxins — brownfields — can decontaminate the soil.

Hemp growth in our state and others could help meet a domestic need in which American-grown hemp could drastically cut into the $11.5 million in hemp products that our nation imported in 2011, according to The Associated Press.

In Indiana, it is legal to import hemp, as does an Elkhart County business that spends $1 million a year to import hemp for use inside auto doors and armrests. Yes, it is legal to import hemp to Indiana, but not to grow it.

That appears about to change. Advancing in the Indiana Legislature is a bill that would allow hemp to be grown as “an agricultural product … subject to regulation by the state.”

Under that bill, hemp growers and handlers would have to be licensed, the Indiana State Police would regularly visit hemp fields to test that they meet the agricultural definition, and other stringent standards would have to be achieved and maintained.

The bill passed the Indiana Senate, 48-0, on Feb. 3 and has been sent to the House of Representatives’ Agriculture and Rural Development committee. Fortunately, Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Seelyille, is vice chairman of that House committee, and Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, is a minority member. We hope both help advance the bill to the House floor and ultimately to the governor for his signature.

The bill seems to have wide bipartisan support, which it should, because it is not a partisan issue.

Hemp is not pot. Hemp is a cash crop with the potential to help Indiana’s farmers, its manufacturers, its workers, its economy, its ecology and its employment numbers.

Hemp should become legal in Indiana, so our state can join Kentucky and nine other states in sowing its seeds and reaping its benefits.

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Editorials
  • Editorial: Community support crucial for workers facing layoffs

    The loss of 150 jobs impacts people — the employees themselves, their families and the community. They need the support of loved ones, friends, neighbors, churches, schools, clubs and local service groups in the search for new work and clarity amid the uncertainty.

    July 26, 2014

  • Ronn Mott: Gaza 2014 — hatred lives on

    The rockets’ red glares have turned Gaza, part of the Palestinian authority, into a battleground with Hamas, a legislative terrorist organization that has been stockpiling armaments to use against Israel for years.

    July 25, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Work program needs industry buy-in

    Good help is hard to find. That’s essentially what Indiana companies have insisted for several years. The state struggles with a “skills gap,” the firms explain. They need employees, but can’t find enough — or in some cases, any — qualified Hoosiers. Businesses say too few applicants possess the “soft skills,” such as showing up for work on time or being able to effectively communicate with co-workers.

    July 22, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Vigo Jail study essential to determine strategy

    It comes as encouraging news that the Vigo County Council might include in its 2015 budget significant funding for an expert and neutral study of what can be done to replace or enhance the existing county jail.

    July 20, 2014

  • tstribunestar Editorial: Continuing the standard

    U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett has raised the profile of his federally appointed position more than any individual to hold the job in decades. From the start, he was a man on a mission, and often that mission was focused on rooting out corruption, maintaining integrity in government and pursuing those who violated the public trust.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Legal marriages should be honored

    An eager and probably nervous couple stands before a minister or a judge or a county clerk and exchanges vows, accepting the legal, moral and ethical obligations of a marriage.

    July 13, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Dysfunctional relationship with schools chief doesn’t bode well for potential Pence presidency

    A window to the future may be unfolding in Indiana.

    July 12, 2014

  • Editorial: The Bennett ‘settlement’

    It takes a special kind of arrogance to flout ethics laws in the manner which former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has violated them. Even when he finally admitted his transgressions, he claimed he could have avoided the matter altogether had he just changed the department’s ethics policy before engaging in the troublesome conduct.
    In essence, this was the old “mistakes were made” acknowledgment of wrongdoing. And the real mistake to which Bennett admits was apparently not changing the rules before he violated them. This is a truly Nixonian moment.

    July 10, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A green idea worth pursuing

    It sounds like a blue-ribbon idea.

    July 9, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Be safe, be responsible

    The Independence Day weekend brought a brief respite in construction work on area roadways. In particular, it provided needed relief to the congested segment of Interstate 70 in Clay County that is undergoing resurfacing this summer.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • tstribunestar Editorial: City financial health demands an open, honest discussion

    Obscured by the recent rift over use of departmental funds in the city of Terre Haute’s budget are serious issues related to our city government’s overall financial health. The answers may be mired in the complexity of municipal finance, but coming to grips with the situation is important to the city’s future.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrate your independence

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    As eloquent and declaratory as that statement is, implementing its principles has been a decades-long pursuit for these United States of America. Our nation, it seems, is the quintessential work in progress, even though what this country has created in terms of a stable, collective society is, let’s face it, pretty darn good.

    July 3, 2014

  • Editorial: Texting law serves safety

    July 1 each year marks the day in Indiana when new laws take effect. But rather than focus on new laws today, let’s observe the anniversary of a law that went on the books three years ago this month — the law that barred texting while driving.

    July 1, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: For kids, an immediate need

    If you agree that not much is sadder — and potentially more unsettling to our society — than a child torn from his or her home, here is a way you can make a difference, one kid at a time.

    June 28, 2014

  • Editorial: A center for the future

    The Monday morning “groundbreaking” at the site of the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center in Voorhees Park was largely ceremonial. It will still be a few weeks before work on the $9.8 million facility actually begins. But that didn’t stop the highly anticipated event from taking place, and it was clear from remarks made by a host of VIPs who took turns at the podium that this project is destined to produce great things.

    June 26, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A proud moment for Vigo County

    Most people, regardless of their personal opinions or beliefs on the matter, will admit that they knew the day was coming when Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages would be overturned by a federal judge. It has happened in other states that have encountered the issue.

    June 25, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Getting smart about fighting crime

    When those “CSI” TV shows began to burst on the scene in 2000, viewers were mesmerized by the flashy scientific and technological methods police labs were using to build cases against criminals.

    June 21, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Forging ahead

    Life in the digital world has changed drastically for many community institutions. But the Vigo County Public Library, which has navigated various minefields of change in recent years, has shown it can adapt, even improve.

    June 19, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: More needed from Speaker

    Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma did what most people expected he would do in the wake of Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner’s ethics probe.

    June 18, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A woman in the House

    The twists and turns of politics can produce unpredictable results. Just ask Bionca Gambill.

    June 17, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Enticing more students back to campus a worthwhile initiative

    Of all of the educational initiatives paraded before Indiana residents in recent years — some ideas worthy, others flops — none seems more timely or more on point than one approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrating local success

    It’s always an uplifting occasion when good things happen to good people. And so we join in the celebration of three people who this week achieved a new level of success and recognition for their professional and personal contributions to life in Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley.

    June 12, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Shoring up the VA

    How America cares for its veterans is indicative of its values as a nation. We’re confident the vast majority of citizens agree that health care for military vets through the country’s network of VA hospitals should meet or exceed common-sense expectations.

    June 11, 2014

  • Editorial: Playing the Nazi card

    There was good news to report from the Indiana Republican Party Convention conducted last weekend in Fort Wayne. The GOP nominated three women to top its general election ballot in November. There isn’t much gender equity in Hoosier politics, so seeing these three rise to the top of the Republican ballot this year is refreshing. But perhaps the best news is that Richard Mourdock, two-term state treasurer and unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012, will no longer hold public office at the end of this year.

    June 10, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Cleaner environment will help boost city’s image

    In Terre Haute, the difference is becoming apparent between responsible stewardship of the environment and a look-the-other-way attitude about dumping harmful materials.

    June 7, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle’s words told a personal story

    Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day when Allied Forces led by the United States military invaded France on the beaches at Normandy. It was the crucial turning point of World War II against Nazi Germany. To observe this somber anniversary, we have given this page’s editorial space the past three days to the columns written by Ernie Pyle in the invasion’s aftermath. Pyle filed three columns about D-Day that were circulated widely in American newspapers beginning June 12, 1944. The first appeared Wednesday. The second appeared Thursday. This is the final column.

    June 5, 2014 2 Stories

  • EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle walked the beaches of Normandy

    NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 16, 1944 — I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France.
    It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.

    June 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Remembering D-Day — in the words of Ernie Pyle

    NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 12, 1944 — Due to a last-minute alteration in the arrangements, I didn’t arrive on the beachhead until the morning after D-day, after our first wave of assault troops had hit the shore. By the time we got here the beaches had been taken and the fighting had moved a couple of miles inland. All that remained on the beach was some sniping and artillery fire, and the occasional startling blast of a mine geysering brown sand into the air. That plus a gigantic and pitiful litter of wreckage along miles of shoreline.

    June 3, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Rape, sexual assault demand greater attention

    When the facts, figures, commentary and analysis about the devastating impact of rape in our society have been consumed, the daunting, even haunting, question is: What can we do to stop it?

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Editorial: GOP takes up marriage battle — again

    All eyes will focus on Indiana’s dominant political party next week as it meets to nominate candidates to statewide office for the fall election. But nominating candidates won’t be the item on the Indiana GOP convention’s agenda that garners the most attention. Rather, the public will be watching how delegates handle a proposal to reintroduce the concept of supporting the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which was deleted from the party’s platform during a previous convention.

    May 29, 2014

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