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United States: Protecting Industrial Hemp in New England

Accolades to the politicians in New England. News yesterday out of New Hampshire reports the Senate is considering protecting industrial hemp from being listed as a controlled substance. It would only go into effect after the Drug Enforcement Agency certifies that at least two other New England states have adopted such legislation but is an amazing step in a region with a rich industrial hemp history.

Hemp, once an important crop in the United States, has not been grown in New Hampshire for decades. Currier’s book, History of Newburyport, mentions that in 1764 “Cordage factories, employing from twenty-five to fifty hands, produced from two to three hundred tons of white lines and tarred cordage annually.” This cordage was made almost exclusively from domestically grown hemp. The rope walk portion of the cordage factories were also used as temporary barracks by revolutionary troops.

Perhaps times are beginning to change. There is a growing market for hemp products worldwide, and more consumers in the US are choosing environmentally friendly alternatives such as hemp as the solution to mass produced products that may be harmful to the planet. Entrepreneurs, from small resellers of hemp seeds and hemp bags, to the larger entities such as clothing lines and hemp infused beverages, are finding a way to make a profitable business in a down-turned economy. Recent interviews with hemp product vendors at events in the Los Angeles vicinity reported brisk sales.

According to the FED, the New England economy is expanding at a moderate pace. But, “Skating on thin ice” is the way one New Hampshire economist describes the current state of that economy. New Hampshire is still out performing other states in terms of its unemployment rate and the stability of its housing market, but economic troubles in Europe could mean bad news for the Granite State which relies very much on exports. Industrial hemp would be part of the solution and bring additional stability in these tough economic times.

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