Ray Cook: Indian Country should say yes to cultivation of hemp

A hemp farm in Canada. Photo from Hempsters / Facebook

Ray Cook, the opinions editor at Indian Country Today, offers his take on the legal marijuana debate:
In most cases, as with gaming, successful recreational and medicinal marijuana production would eventually and quickly serve a saturated market, one with experienced growers ready and able to turn legal at the drop of a hat. It is a limited market and very competitive. The chance of making lots of money is slim. And capitalization of any company wanting to compete would be in the tens of millions of dollars.

However, industrial marijuana (hemp) is another story. In a world where environmental and exploration costs of fossil fuels has become increasingly burdensome, hemp has the potential to find a market niche here and abroad. Industrial hemp has less than 1% THC content (the stuff that gets one high) and its tough, fibrous stalk had many uses. Historically—and before the turn-of-the-century demonization of hemp and marijuana by the lumber and petroleum industries—it was used for ropes, building material, even dry wall, and is a sustainable source for cloth and paper.

America was built with hemp. This hardy weed grows everywhere thanks to the efforts of first the Jesuit missionaries, and was promoted by none other than Ben Franklin. The first American flag is made of hemp. The Declaration of Independence was written on, you guessed it, hemp. The United States Constitution is written on hemp paper. Given the legal, moral, and market hurdles presented by medical and recreational marijuana, it would be better for Indian nations to explore advanced technologies that will take advantage of the potential offered by hemp.

Get the Story:
Ray Cook: Rez Should Say No to Pot—But A Huge YES to Hemp (Indian Country Today 2/20)

Relevant Documents:
Department of Justice Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country (October 2014)

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