by David Downs
Hemp - the straight-laced cousin to marijuana - had been used as a fuel, food, and fiber until the feds banned it as part of the War on Pot starting in the 1930s. But now, California has legalized the production of hemp in the state — if the feds get out of the way, and that's a big if.
The Chronicle's Joe Garofoli wrote Saturday that "Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that would permit California farmers to grow the long-banned distant cousin of the trippy herb. But only if the federal government lifts its hemp cultivation ban."
Californians bought $500 million in imported hemp products in 2012 — all of it from China, Canada, and Europe.
Garofoli reports that today state Senator Mark Leno will ask state Attorney General Kamala Harris to get approval from the US Department of Justice for hemp crops.
Drug war proponents in the White House, along with the federal and state law enforcement bureaucracy, have stated that they oppose hemp-growing because police are ignorant of the differences between hemp and marijuana.