Hemp is cannabis; it's the same species as the plant called marijuana, but thanks to selective breeding and different cultivation techniques hemp contains little or no psychoactive elements sought by medicinal or recreational consumers.
Hemp has numerous industrial uses, by some accounts upward of 2,500, perhaps the oldest as a textile. Cannabis fiber has three times the tensile strength of cotton and was cultivated up to 8,000 years ago or more by the Chinese. Cannabis is a hollow fiber, more breathable than cotton, and that translates to more comfort for the wearer, and clothing made from hemp far outlasts its cotton competition. What's not to love about that?
Hemp requires fewer pesticides and produces three to four times as much usable fiber as an acre of cotton. Due to the density of cultivation hemp also requires fewer herbicides than cotton, meaning fewer toxins potentially contaminating the streams and aquifers we rely on for drinking water. I don't know about legislators, but I like clean water.
The advantages of hemp over conventional or synthetic textiles should be enough to convince anyone of the virtue of this beneficial weed, but there's more.
Hempcrete is a building product made by mixing chopped hemp stalks with lime to produce bricks and structural components that are lighter and stronger than traditional building materials. Hemp-based construction products are less susceptible to rot and are much lighter in weight than traditional wood-based materials.
An acre of cannabis produces four times the usable pulp as a an acre of trees, and does so in one season, year after year. Compared with a minimum of six to eight years or more for an acre of trees to reach harvestable size, hemp is a far more sustainable, reliable, and desirable industrial crop.
In North Carolina we've lost thousands of textile jobs over the last several decades, and the demise of our once thriving tobacco industry has driven many farmers into bankruptcy, out of business, or both. Given these facts, why do our leaders in Raleigh struggle with budget shortfalls while such an obvious solution sits on the table untouched. Our climate here is perfect for the cultivation of cannabis for industrial, medicinal, or any other use?
While it's true that federal laws stand in the way of fully legalizing cannabis several other states have already taken the lead in what will certainly be the next industrial revolution. Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes. Washington and Colorado voters recently passed referendums to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, and Kentucky, another state with strong ties to agriculture, is currently considering legislation to allow industrial hemp farming. Why aren't North Carolina's state legislators pressuring our congressional delegation to change federal prohibitions that hamper our prosperity?
Failure to act on these vitally important issues that affect the health of our most vulnerable citizens as well as the economic health of our state indicates an unacceptable lack of vision on the part of North Carolina's governor, Pat McCrory, and the Republican leadership in both houses of our General Assembly. Perhaps our leaders' interests lie elsewhere, as indicated by statistics revealed in a recent article detailing how a medical marijuana bill with widespread support across our state was killed in the state house rules committee.
Wake County Republican Stam’s campaign finance records for 2012 haven’t been released, but he’s serving his seventh term, so there are six other campaigns to consider.
In 2010, the alcoholic beverage industry was a top 10 contributor. He has also received significant donations from eight different pharmaceutical companies, including Astrazeneca, Merck, Bayer, Eli Lilly and Novartis. The Southern States Police Benevolent Association, a prison guards’ union, was also a top contributor.
The chairman of the N.C. House Rules Committee, Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, has turned in his campaign finance report for 2012, and it shows large donations from pharmaceutical big wigs Pfizer, Merck, Abbott Laboratories and Eli Lilly. Astrazeneca has been a dependable source of money for him as well, contributing sums in 2004-10.
He also received thousands from the North Carolina Beer, Wine and Liquor Wholesale Association. His top campaign contributor was the N.C. Republican Party, a committee to which the alcoholic beverage industry contributed nearly $60,000 in 2012.
The other vice chairman of the House Rules Committee, Justin Burr, R-Stanly, received donations in 2012 from Pfizer and the North Carolina Beer, Wine and Liquor Wholesale Association, but he appears to have financed most of his campaign with earnings from his family business, Burr Bail Bonds. It doesn’t take a huge leap of logic to consider the financial stake a bail bondsman has in keeping a commonly used substance criminalized.
With leadership like this, is it any wonder North Carolina is being left behind on nearly every front?