In a move meant to bolster Indiana's agricultural economy and farmland preservation efforts, State Sen. Richard Young Jr., D-Milltown, renewed his legislative efforts to legalize hemp production in Indiana. Last session he issued a resolution urging his colleagues to appreciate the business and environmental benefits of legalization.
The following is excerpted from the senator's Oct. 18 news release:
Put simply, hemp is an excellent alternative crop. It can be harvested just 120 days after planting and requires no particular soil or climate. Hemp is a very leafy plant and produces more oxygen than other crops. It is a dense plant making it difficult for sunlight to penetrate the leaves and reach the ground, freeing it of weeds. It is naturally resistant to pests, so there is no need for herbicides or pesticides.
He noted hemp products are "safer for the environment and consumers than traditional plastics or textiles É can be recycled and are 100 percent biodegradable," plus, since they offer an alternative pulp for paper, "could lead to a reduction in global deforestation."
Noting that ten states, including Kentucky and West Virginia, support industrial hemp production, Young continued: "I believe that hemp needs to be a controlled crop with the appropriate oversight of the Department of Agriculture to ensure that marijuana is not grown with the hemp. I look forward to bringing this issue before the General Assembly in 2014."
On Oct. 25, the Libertarian Party of Indiana issued a news release welcoming Young's contribution to the Libertarian's "long-standing mission to allow local farmers to make money growing hemp, a native crop." The release continued, "If Democrats and Republicans would like to join the wave of the future, they should adopt another long-held Libertarian platform plank and decriminalize marijuana for adults."
The Libertarians also referenced an Oct. 22 posting by Gallup's Art Swift, which opens as follows: "For marijuana advocates, the last 12 months have been a period of unprecedented success as Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana. And now for the first time, a clear majority of Americans (58%) say the drug should be legalized. This is in sharp contrast to the time Gallup first asked the question in 1969, when only 12% favored legalization."
Gallup stats on the percentage of supporters by age range underscored a sea change of acceptance among progressively younger generations.
The pollsters concluded: "It has been a long path toward majority acceptance of marijuana over the past 44 years, but Americans' support for legalization accelerated as the new millennium began. This acceptance of a substance that most people might have considered forbidden in the late 1960s and 1970s may be attributed to changing social mores and growing social acceptance. The increasing prevalence of medical marijuana as a socially acceptable way to alleviate symptoms of diseases such as arthritis, and as a way to mitigate side effects of chemotherapy, may have also contributed to Americans' growing support."
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