While Uncle Sam’s scramble for new revenue sources has recently kicked up the marijuana debate — to legalize and tax, or not? — hemp’s feasibility as a stimulus plan has received less airtime.
But with a North American market that exceeds $300 million in annual retail sales and continued rising demand, industrial hemp could generate thousands of sustainable new jobs, helping America to get back on track.
“We’re in the midst of a dark economic transition, but I believe hemp is an important facet and has tremendous economic potential,” says Patrick Goggin, a board member on the California Council for Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading industrial hemp-farming advocacy group. “Economically and environmentally, industrial hemp is an important part of the sustainability pie.”
With 25,000 known applications from paper, clothing and food products — which, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal this January, is the fastest growing new food category in North America — to construction and automotive materials, hemp could be just the crop to jump-start America’s green economy.
But growing hemp remains illegal in the U.S. The Drug Enforcement Administration has lumped the low-THC plant together with its psychoactive cousin, marijuana, making America the planet’s only industrialized nation to ban hemp production. We can import it from Canada, which legalized it in 1997. But we can’t grow it.