It is time the United States join the ranks of advanced nations and permit the production of industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is not an addictive drug, has a variety of uses that are environmentally friendly, and would be beneficial to our economy.

The United States is paralyzed by the belief that industrial hemp is a drug crop. This belief has been nurtured by much misinformation. "All marijuana is hemp, but not all hemp is marijuana," said Paul Mahlberg, a professor at Indiana University in Bloomington and a molecular biologist who has studied Cannabis for 30 years (The Kansas City Star, 9/30/98). Industrial hemp is the same species as marijuana, Cannabis sativa, but it is a different variety which, due to genetics and growing practices, has a very small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical that gives a "high" (Industrial Hemp Gaining Favor, p.1). The THC levels in industrial hemp are so low that no one can get high from smoking it. Marijuana contains up to 20 percent THC, where industrial hemp contains only 0.3 percent or less THC (Getting Hemp Over the Hump, p1). Moreover, industrial hemp, while low in THC, is high in another kind of cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), which counteracts the THC psychoactivity (West, p.11). CBD has recently been shown to block the effect of THC in the nervous system (West, 8). Industrial hemp has relatively high levels of CBD versus THC. Drug strains are high in THC and low in CBD. Cannabis with THC below 1.0 percent and a CBD/THC ratio greater than one is therefore not capable of inducing a psychoactive effect. Hemp turns out, is not only not marijuana; it could be called the "antimarijuana" (West, p.3).
"You couldn't get high off industrial hemp even if you smoked a joint the size of a telephone pole," said Med Byrd, NCSU scientist (Getting Hemp Over the Hump). According to Professor William M. Pierce Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, "To obtain a psychoactive effect with even 1 percent THC would require the user to smoke 10-12 cigarettes containing hemp in a 'very short period of time'…This large volume and high temperature inhalation of vapor, gas, and smoke would be difficult for a person to withstand, much less enjoy" (West, p.12). Professor Pierce went on to note that anyone who ate hemp hoping to get "high" would be consuming the fiber equivalent of several doses of high-fiber laxative. In other words, the very unpleasant side effects would dissuade anyone from trying to use industrial hemp as a drug. Dr. Pierce also pointed out that beer sold as "nonalcoholic" contains measurable alcohol. So does mouthwash. Even nutmeg contains a psychoactive substance. But the authorities are not aggressively concerned about the abuse of these products because the side effects are so severe as to discourage such abuse.
"Although industrial hemp does contain trace amounts of THC, it is of no practical significance. There is also a minor percentage of precious gold dissolved in sea water, but it is no more economically feasible to extract than is THC from hemp," said botanist and cannabis expert Robert C. Clarke (West, p.13). Put simply industrial hemp is not marijuana and can not be transformed into the addictive drug.
The confusion of the word "marijuana" and the word "industrial hemp" has placed a heavy burden on public policymakers. Many believe that by legalizing industrial hemp they are legalizing marijuana. Yet in twenty-nine other countries, governments have accepted the distinctions between the two types of Cannabis and have legalized the growing of industrial hemp (West, p.5). "The public is quickly realizing that we can grow hemp without the danger of increasing the drug problem," said Donald Wirtshafter, founder and owner of the Ohio Hempery in Guysville, Ohio. "It's the politicians that don't understand."

Unfortunately, our drug phobia has kept us from yielding an environmentally safe and renewable resource. Industrial hemp can be used in the applications of paper, fuel, textiles, and untapped resource of biomass energy (
The average person in the U.S. uses over 700 pounds of paper each year. "What happens when China, Pakistan, and India start consuming as much as Americans do?" asked Byrd (Getting Hemp Over the Hump, p.2). "There are signs the world