The Senate Appropriations Committee is seeking a half-million dollars for the federal government to set up an industrial hemp seed bank for agricultural research, reports Forbes.
After so many years of prohibition, the US’s hemp seed stock was essentially lost. It has been replenished, in part, by importing from places like Canada, which rakes in around a billion dollars a year in hemp production, reported the LA Times in 2014.
Where have all the flowers gone?
During Herbert Hoover’s presidency (1929-1933) hemp was made illegal after having been America’s traditional crop for over 160 years.
Why? Hemp was too good for its own good.
The fact that hemp, arguably among the most useful plants known to mankind, could be used to make clothes, cars, plastics, building materials, rope, paper, linens, food, medicine, fuel, etc. seemed to bother chemical companies like Dupont, Allied Chemical, Monsanto and others.
With the help of the Hoover administration and the Hearst newspaper empire, the US government launched a campaign to have hemp declared a dangerous threat to their billion dollar enterprises.
They then proceeded to undertake the process of destroying the environment as they produced oil-based plastic and lumber-based paper, which could have easily been made from hemp.
In that hemp is part of the cannabis plant with only a trace of THC, the DEA managed to keep it federally illegal all these years.
Until now, when Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), introduced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.
Although prior to McConnell’s revelation of hemp’s benefits, 39 states had removed barriers to producing industrial hemp and have started pilot programs, according to VoteHemp.
“The scarcity of high quality hemp seed is a roadblock to the development of an American hemp industry,” said Vote Hemp’s president, Eric Steenstra, per Forbes. “We are extremely pleased that Congress is providing funding to ensure that USDA will once again collect and store hemp germplasm and make it available to American farmers and researchers.”
The hemp seed stockpile will be stored at a US Department of Agriculture’s Plant Genetics Research unit in Columbia, Missouri.