Saturday, July 21, 2007

North Dakota Leads the Hemp Growing Legalization Effort

As a native North Dakotan , I am not used to seeing "North Dakota" and "leading" in the same headline. NoDak is a pretty polite, quiet kind of place, not known for its rabble rousing. But those North Dakota farmers are tough. Their fields and climate are ideal for hemp growing, and diversification is important for mono-crop environments. Being overly reliant on a single crop makes farmers even more vulnerable than they already are, should that crop become infested. This has happened with wheat recently. So as reported in the New York Times today, they have been pushing the envelope on hemp growing, especially since it's legal in Canada, just a few miles north of the North Dakota/Manitoba border. While North Dakota state has legalized hemp growing, the status of their state law is unclear relative to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Litigation is underway, and will prevent them from getting a crop in this year, even if the law clears the hurdle.
Hemp is an environmental high-achiever - it requires much less water than cotton, and can be grown with virtually no pesticides, making it a sustainability star. It has a high yield and is quite versatile in its uses - clothing, paper goods, and even as a fuel. Hemp is a cousin of cannibis, so growing it is illegal in every state but North Dakota. Will the farmers succeed in the efforts? Their field will be subject to GPS checks to make sure they're not sneaking any weed in their hemp fields.
Stay tuned on this one! In the meantime, check out EarthCreations, lovely American made clothing from imported hemp. But maybe someday we Americans can shop for locally grown hemp.


projgreen said...

So Hemp and Cannabis are not one in the same? I always thought they were.

Betsy Teutsch said...

Hemp and Marijauna are both in the genus cannibis, but are different species. However, the plants look similar, hence the fear industrial hemp will be a cover for marijuana growing.