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Montmorency commissioners pass MIHEMP resolution of support
May 26, 2011
Erika Fifelski – News Staff Writer , The Alpena News
ATLANTA – Montmorency County commissioners passed a resolution supporting the MI Hemp organization. The county joins Presque Isle commissioners in passing the resolution that states the the county recognizes the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana.
The resolution also asks Michigan and United States legislatures to do the same and allow U.S. farmers to grow the product legally. Hemp is currently a schedule one illegal substance classified as such by the Drug Enforcement Administration. By rescheduling the plant and making it legal to grow in the U.S., agricultural industries would benefit, Hillman resident Everett Swift said.
“Ask the state legislature to pass legislation to allow farmers to grow (hemp) without a license from the DEA, ask the federal government to recognize the difference,” Swift said.
U.S. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas is sponsoring House Bill 1831 “to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana, and for other purposes,” as stated by the bill. The bill is being co-sponsored by Michigan Congressman Dan Benishek.
Swift said the U.S. currently imports hemp from Canada and China, and the plant product is used in many things sold at stores around the country. Of the 30 industrialized countries in the world, the U.S. is the only one that is not allowed to grow the plant, he said.
Briley Township Supervisor John Zollars read an article to commissioners outlining China’s recent hemp production developments. He said resistance from the DEA boils down to confusion between hemp and marijuana and the DEA’s fear of hemp replacing cotton and other textile materials. The switch to using hemp instead of cotton would, however, free up more land for agricultural food growth, Zollars said.
“This is a thing everybody that has a few acres of land could get involved in,” he said. “It’s absolutely ridiculous that the government can’t understand the economic impact.”
Commissioner Bert LaFleche voted in favor of the resolution. He previously voted no on any proposal brought before the board in favor of hemp production in Michigan. Commissioner Daryl Peterson did not support the proposal. Although he said hemp would benefit farmers, he believes legalizing the growth of the plant should be done by means of petition, not governmental resolution.
“I’m not against the concept, just the way it’s being done,” he said.
Even so, the motion passed at Wednesday’s meeting, and Swift said his organization will move on to the remaining six Northeast Michigan counties to ask for support.
Erika Fifelski can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.