Column, 312 words

High Time for Hemp

This commonsense crop should become commonplace in the United States again.

Jim Hightower

Four years ago, Michelle Obama picked up a shovel to make a powerful symbolic statement about America’s food and farm future: She turned a patch of White House lawn into a working organic garden.

I’m guessing that now, as she begins another four years in the people’s mansion, the First Lady is asking herself: “What’s next? What can I do this time around to plant a crop of common sense in our country’s political soil that will link America’s farmers, consumers, environment, and grassroots economy into one big harvest of common good?”

If she’s asking this question, I’m happy to offer a one-word answer: Hemp. How about planting a good healthy stand of industrial hemp next to your organic garden?



Yes, hemp is a distant cousin of marijuana. But the industrial variety of cannabis lacks pot’s psychoactive punch. Industrial hemp won’t make anyone high, but it certainly can make us happy — because it would deliver a new economic and environmental high for America.

Our nation is the world’s biggest consumer of hemp products (from rope to shampoo, building materials to food), yet the mad masters of our insane and protracted Drug War have lumped hemp and marijuana together as “Schedule 1 controlled substances.” Our Land of the Free is the world’s only industrialized country that bans farmers from growing this benign, profitable, job-creating, and environmentally beneficial plant.

As Michael Bowman, a Colorado farmer, so aptly asks: “Can we just stop being stupid?” He’s one of the leaders of a national, bipartisan movement to legalize hemp production. As one small step, he’s seeking 100,000 signatures on a White House petition that simply asks President Barack Obama to honor the legalization of industrial hemp as a states rights issue, and to end its classification as a controlled substance. To sign, go to this website:

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

  • Katherine Schock

    Why do we let our government get away with holding industrial hemp hostage to our antiquated drug laws? I buy hemp seeds for food which have to be imported from Canada, because they can’t be farmed here…does that make sense to you? They’re a high quality, high protein food that is nutritious, which could make a big improvement in the health of people who eat them, so it seems to me that our ridiculous drug laws need to be changed!

  • JamaGenie

    The anti-cannabis-in-any-form crowd forgets that our U.S. Constitution
    was written on hemp paper. For the first 150 years of our nation’s
    history – until it was inexplicably put on the illegal substances list
    with its cousin marijuana – hemp was a widely-grown cash crop, as common
    as corn, wheat and soybeans, but had MANY more uses that those grown
    for food. Also it grows quite well in soil unsuited for any other crop.
    It’s totally ridiculous that Americans can IMPORT hemp and do anything
    they please with it but NOT grow it within our borders.