Ralph Nader gave the keynote speech at the 2015 Marijuana Business Conference and Expo in Las Vegas in November. He told attendees that he doesn’t use cannabis, being more of a carrots-and-broccoli man. So why was the erstwhile independent presidential candidate there to address a group of cannabis industry members?
A renowned, lifelong consumer and public safety advocate credited with saving countless lives on American highways since publishing his landmark Unsafe at Any Speed in 1965 five decades ago, Nader was there to deliver valuable advice for legalization advocates and those deciding minimum standards for the nascent industry.
Citing his decades-long experience with successes and setbacks alike pushing for industrial hemp legalization, Nader said people still opposed to marijuana legalization on its own merit need to hear how legalization’s side benefits will help advance policy goals they do support.
Hence, Nader’s speech educating industry members on hemp. He explained some of the benefits outflowing from industrial hemp production, including the potential boon to American farmers, the newer healthy food benefits among hundreds of practical consumer uses, and above all, as a way to cut fossil fuel consumption in the face of climate change.
Calling future legal cannabis a “massive gift” to an American society currently operating under “the rule of law gone mad,” Nader noted hemp’s many practical uses. He also pointed out the huge gift legalization would be to America’s broken criminal justice system. But he cautioned the industry to adhere to strict internal standards of integrity if it wanted to succeed. “Proper regulation is the best aspirin you could have,” he said, “other than marijuana.”
“The most important argument you can make is that the legalization of marijuana is a gift, a massive gift to the radicalization of the criminal justice system and to the liberation of industrial hemp for its transformation into food, into fuel, into paper, into lubricants, into hundreds of other products, including parts of the interior of a motor vehicle. A degradable, recyclable product that is the dream of people who are worried about climate change.”
“You liberate industrial hemp as a whole new sub-economy that is environmentally benign, self-sufficient in terms of not having to depend on other countries of the world.”
“The Declaration of Independence had industrial hemp for paper. Jefferson grew it. Washington grew it. And then we moved from the early 18th century to the medieval times of today, where it is put on the proscribed list by the DEA.”
“It’s now legal, and has been for years, to import industrial hemp from Romania, Canada, France, China. But it’s illegal for our farmers to grow it.”
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