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Alaskan Senator Pushes for Hemp Legalization

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Alaskan Senator Pushes for Hemp Legalization

Parlaying the recent passing of Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2, which legalized cannabis for recreational sale in the state, Democratic Senator Johnny Ellis has pre-filed a bill seeking to make hemp – marijuana’s non-psychoactive sibling – the state’s next agricultural cash crop.

According to reports, “Ellis had been considering proposing an industrial hemp bill for several years and after seeing bipartisan support for hemp in the U.S. Congress’ 2014 Farm Bill, he decided to introduce legislation.”

It’s no surprise that Alaska is joining the discussion regarding hemp legalization, given the worldwide popularity of hemp products for everything from textiles and building materials to bio-plastics and auto parts. Countries from Uruguay to Romania have for many years been capitalizing on this rich natural resource.

Still, U.S. states face considerable hurdles when pursuing legalization due to hemp’s misperception as a psychoactive substance, first misclassified in the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, which placed hemp in the Schedule I drug category along with marijuana, heroin and LSD.

Says Brandon Emmett, executive director of Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation (CRCL), “Given the evidence showing that hemp cannot be consumed to achieve a recreational high, any moral imperative for its prohibition has been removed.”

Regarding hemp cultivation in Alaska’s cold climate and short growing season, Emmett believes that will not be an impediment to growth of the industry in the state.

“Hemp is an annual plant that experiences explosive growth given the right conditions. Alaska’s long summer days allow annual plants to grow almost continuously so long as temperatures remain relatively warm. In good summers Alaskan farmers would be able to produce bumper crops of massive plants.”

Cannabis cultivators Giono and James Barrett, brothers and co-founders of Rainforest Farms in Juneau, support bill SB-8 and hope to one day build their farm’s homestead as a zero-energy hemp-built structure.

“We strongly believe in protecting our civil liberties in Alaska,” says James Barrett, also the acting regional director at CRCL. “Working with farmers of all types and being directly involved with the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation has been very important to ensure that our system is fair for the interests of those locally, as well as throughout the entire state of Alaska.”

Giono Barrett adds, “SB-8 will make the vision of sustainability here in Southeast Alaska more practical and cost effective, with materials that can withstand our wild climate and seem to last forever, produced right here in our state.”

CRCL sees the bill being passed during the current legislative session.

“Alaska supported legalization of recreational marijuana by a margin of 6.5 percent,” says Emmett. “The bill seems to be a common sense approach to agricultural options for Alaska.”

Do you think hemp should be legal? Tell us in the comments.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Rick Lopez

    January 26, 2015 at 2:37 am

    it’s ridiculous how cannabis has been imposed upon the people as class 1, referring to no medicinal purpose!who do we write letters to to get this on the proper track ?

  2. Natalie Jenkins

    January 24, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    This will help the alaska as a whole. Many Alaskans, atleast around me are marijuana rooters, Im pretty sure they would be ecstatic about the SB-8 ballot as much as I am. I’ve always loved the idea of hemp and have studied it since my freshman year in highschool I knew of its potential and I, to the best of my ability will enforce the idea of legalization of Hemp. I look forward to the ballot

  3. claygooding

    January 24, 2015 at 10:15 am

    If you want to defeat the illegal market for marijuana then hempseed production should be done using some of the best strains available for the recreational users,,the seeds produced in a good sativa strain are the same as seeds produced in the industrial hemp,,after processing the vegetation can be dried and curd,,processed in to a pipecut mixture,edibles or pre-rolled joints Labels with THC content and strain will sell the marijuana.
    Only when the market is flooded with more legal marijuana than can sell will profits begin to fall and black market competition will too.
    Industrial hemp did not exist until the early 1960’s and was developed to try and get around the STC and America’s war on a plant,,it is time to end the entire prohibition if the cannabis plant and to quit allowing our government to drive wedges between legalization factions.
    And every farmer in America wants a crop that sells to three different markets.

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