Industrial hemp can help our state


South Dakotans should vote for Initiated Measure One, the measure to make industrial hemp legal, but the state must exercise caution if the initiative is adopted.

Industrial hemp holds the promise of being the next great cash crop. Hemp can be used for fabric, paper, fuel, lumber and a host of other things.

It is environmentally friendly and easy to grow. It would provide farmers who simply do not have the money to pour into soybeans or corn a cheap alternative to get started.

However, hemp does have its downsides.

For one thing, hemp, is indistinguishable from all other forms of the marijuana plant, except in chemistry. Hemp would have only one percent of the chemical THC, which makes people feel the high they feel when smoking marijuana.

The state’s law enforcement officials would likely have to add random hemp-field checks to their list of activities, something that will cost money and take up time.

In addition, one or two regular marijuana plants in a field will eventually make all the plants into marijuana, as the plants cross-pollinate.

Finally, federal restrictions on industrial hemp would continue to stand. By passing this law, South Dakota would thumb its nose at federal regulations.

So why be in favor of industrial hemp?

Because it has worked here before and it works in other countries.

Marijuana is still illegal in Canada, yet they allow industrial hemp. Numerous other countries have restrictions on marijuana but count on hemp as a cash crop as well.

In addition, the United States encouraged the growth of industrial hemp as recently as the 1940s. Indeed, the plant was a valuable cash crop for the nation in troubled times.

It is not immediately apparent that police officers would have to check all fields of hemp for marijuana plants. Since the two plants cross-pollinate, police could perform random checks on certain fields and then run chemical tests on the plants found there.

Random tests would put enough fear into those who would plant marijuana that many wouldn’t consider it. The few that did would eventually be winnowed out through the random checks.

It would take a few years, but marijuana growth would eventually be stamped out.

In addition, it often takes brave states to force the federal government to examine its often idiotic policies on certain issues.

By legalizing industrial hemp, South Dakota could force the federal government to look at what it thinks about industrial hemp.

Industrial hemp is not the solution to all of South Dakota’s ills, as some would have you believe. Hemp does carry with it a number of very real risks

However, the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Vote yes on Initiated Measure One.

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