Victory for Hemp


Starting on the first of next year, farmers in North Dakota can apply for licenses to grow hemp, the biological cousin of marijuana that can be used to make everything from soap to rope to groovy hacky-sack covers. Tired of watching their Canadian neighbors making good money off the stuff, state legislators legalized industrial hemp production last year. But there’s still one major hurdle: the DEA has to give approval, since it considers hemp no different from pot – even though you’d have to smoke about an acre of the stuff to get a buzz. Of course, federal authorities have never been known for the rationality of their approach to anything connected with marijuana. The Supreme Court, for instance, just upheld a 55 year sentence for a guy convicted of selling three bags of pot to an undercover cop. Even the judge who was forced to impose the punishment, thanks to mandatory-minimum sentencing laws, called it “unjust, cruel and irrational.”

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  • Vince Beiser, a former Mother Jones senior editor, has reported from more than 30 countries—on troop training in Iraq, natural disasters in Haiti, and prison conditions in California.