A Fool’s Argument
It’s been said a time or two, by those who oppose legalizing industrial hemp, that it’s a gateway drug. That it’ll open the door to things like marijuana or other psychedelics. That there’s a long list of questions and a short list of answers.
Some go so far as to say that legalizing industrial hemp would come at a high cost to states where legalization is passed. That there are new tools needed, new government employees, new testing facilities and the like. That law enforcement agencies would struggle and require new training, new sampling tools, and maybe even new drug dogs.
It’s a tough conversation to have for those us on the other end of the spectrum. State after state where legalization has been passed have figured out simple solutions to address these concerns. Most states we’ve heard from have needed no additional employees, the hemp programs are locally funded through application and licensing fees from farmers and processors, and simple permitting processes make the need for new testing equipment a moot point.
And then there’s the gateway drug comment. It’s time to get clear on something. Hemp is not a drug, and the vast majority of us who favor the legalization of industrial hemp are opposed to recreational marijuana. We need the public, those who oppose hemp, and those in key leadership positions to understand that there’s a stark difference between hemp and marijuana.
Production vs Consumption: A Big Difference
By and large, when marijuana is discussed in the public limelight, it’s about consumption. It’s about how humans can consume or ingest a product that contains a psychedelic element intended to cause an altered state of mind. On the contrary, when hemp is discussed the conversation is about production. It’s about America’s struggling farmers having access to plant a different type of seed in the ground, to grow a different type of crop that will be harvested and sold to create building materials, fuel, paper, plastic alternatives, and the list goes on and on.
Perhaps one of the wildest facts about the industrial hemp industry is that, with proper farming practices, farmers can see substantial profits on a very small amount of acres. If that’s a gateway to anything, it’s a gateway to farming. Hemp isn’t a gateway drug, it’s a gateway crop. It’s a gateway to 6th generation grandsons and granddaughters keeping or returning to their family farm.
Rather than a gateway drug, like many unwilling or uneducated parties would have you believe, it’s time for America to consider hemp what it truly is – A gateway crop capable of bringing new, fresh, young blood back into the heartland of America’s farming culture.
Find another example of an agricultural commodity with the power to allow the little guys to succeed and we’ll get on board in a hurry. Offer another commodity where even the smallest of small farmers can make a decent living and raise a family in an agricultural setting and we’ll be the first to support it. A crop where current farmers with as little as an 80-acre plot of land are capable of pulling in a seven-figure income. Too good to be true? Not this time. We’ve seen the land. We’ve seen the crops. And we’ve seen the checks. All done in as little as three months, mind you.
America needs farmers. And farmers need access to hemp. The rest of us need farmers to have access to this versatile crop just as much, if not more, with all its benefits and uses. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country.”
What can you do? We’d encourage you to reach out to your local farmers and have a conversation about hemp. And maybe talk to your state legislators if you live somewhere behind the curve on hemp.