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.
Versatile ‘weed’ offers options for farmers, businesses, workers
TERRE HAUTE —
It’s historical. It was cultivated in Mesopotamia as early as 8000 B.C.
Readers’ Forum: July 28, 2014
• Tea party folks misunderstood
• We have only us to blame
MARK BENNETT: Hall of Memories: Names, images of baseball greats trigger connections to our own past
Baseball Hall of Famers are just people. Totally human. Still, for Americans who follow the national pastime, those players represent a nostalgic connection to summers gone by.
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.
- Readers' Forum: July 27, 2014
Flashpoint: Why incumbents keep getting re-elected
Nearly three-quarters of Americans want to throw out most members of Congress, including their own representative, yet the vast majority of incumbents will be returning to Capitol Hill in January.
Flashpoint: Spreading the good word about marriage equality
If you blinked over the past month, you probably missed some news about marriage equality in Indiana.
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.
- Readers’ Forum: July 25, 2014
RONN MOTT: The Czar of Russia
If you are expecting Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Republic, to react to the crisis in the Ukraine as an ordinary elected official, think again. Even though Putin is the President of the Russian Republic, this is not the job he wants. Putin also doesn’t want to be the chairman of a newly resurrected Communist Party in Russia. No, what he wants is to be the czar of a greater Russia.
Readers’ Forum: July 24, 2014
• Clinic will expand basic health access
• Misunderstanding truth about Islam
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.
- Readers’ Forum: July 23, 2014
RONN MOTT: Dragonfly
The other morning I was moving the canister that holds our recycling material out to the curb when I saw a strange sight. What I saw was a dragonfly fighting with a bee.
FLASHPOINT: News about reality, not affirmation
The public’s trust in the news media keeps dwindling. At the same time, Americans’ political polarization keeps increasing.
LIZ CIANCONE: Chickens as pets always turned out same way
I suppose many of us who grew up on farms or in small towns adopted unusual pets. I had a fondness for chickens. My folks always kept a few chickens, not only to fry or roast, but also for the eggs.
Readers’ forum: July 22, 2014
• Supt. Ritz has right to govern
• A tribute to a teacher
• Rep. Pelosi shows ‘bungling idiocy’
Readers’ forum: July 21, 2014
• Theater brings the joy of music
• Drawing closer to the spirit
• Give some space to heterosexuals
MARK BENNETT: Former Terre Hautean Jim Lovell stood ready as Neil Armstrong’s backup on Apollo 11
The words “Apollo 11” stir optimism in me.
I was an elementary school kid growing up in Vigo County when Neil Armstrong put the first footprint on the moon on July 20, 1969. So much seemed possible
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.
Readers’ forum: July 20, 2014
• ‘Hotel Indiana’ has a sour tune
• Kind words about the newspaper
• Some questions about RTL video
• No mercy for cop killers
• Crack down on gun violence
• Anti-Dem tirades mask GOP failures
• Important day for participants
• Appreciation for support
FLASHPOINT: Solve our border crisis
More than 60,000 unaccompanied alien children — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have been apprehended on America’s southern border during this fiscal year.
RONN MOTT: World Cup over, but it was fun
After many weeks and many games, the World Cup is over. While the world calls it “futbol,” only we in North America play another brand of football. It is very simple to understand why this is the world’s favorite game … all it takes is an empty lot, a round soccer ball, and you can get a futbol game together.
FLASHPOINT: Living in peaceful communities requires collaboration
Hoosiers have the right to live in peace. Yet, too many of our friends and neighbors are currently living in fear.
Flashpoint: Will Gov. Pence be true to his word?
This is written in response to recent remarks made by State Board of Education members.
- Readers’ Forum: July 18, 2014
RONN MOTT: Presidential Ambush
No wild-west ambush, either real or fiction, has been as successful as the ambush on President Barack Obama.
READERS’ FORUM: July 17, 2014
• Civil rights and burning cities
• Quality service from Baesler’s
FLAHSPOINT: Supt. Glenda Ritz ‘creating conflict’
It has been my pleasure for the past year to serve as the newest member of the Indiana State Board of Education. I bring a fresh perspective to the board as an attorney and business executive who served as Director of Economic Development under former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and President of the Indy Partnership, a regional economic development organization charged with recruiting new companies to our state.
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.
Readers’ Forum: July 16, 2014
• The truth about property taxes
- More Opinion Headlines
- Readers’ Forum: July 28, 2014