Legalize Industrial Hemp
Many other states have. It could be a boon to state’s economy.
Industrial hemp presents a major opportunity for our state, and it’s time we take full advantage of it. AB 147, a bill I have introduced in the State Assembly, would make it legal to grow, process, and transport industrial hemp in Wisconsin again. And my bill is not the only one. Today, I am asking you to contact your legislators and request that they support the legalization of industrial hemp in our state.
Our state’s hemp industry thrived through World War II, but disappeared in the 1950s, in part due to postwar market forces and public confusion regarding its link to marijuana. Although hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species, they look and perform very differently. Visually, it’s easy to tell one plant from the other: hemp is tall and fibrous, while marijuana grows close to the ground. Their production is also very different. Hemp cannot be used for mind-altering or medicinal purposes, and marijuana can’t be used in manufacturing because it produces poor quality fibers. And if you’re concerned about someone trying to “hide” marijuana in a hemp field (as I have heard from a number of people), just talk to any farmer and they’ll tell you: hemp crops and marijuana cannot and should not even be grown near each other.
Financially, industrial hemp represents a significant opportunity for Wisconsin. According to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. market for imported hemp products hit $36.9 million in 2013. That was a six-fold increase from 2005. Hemp is used in a wide variety of ways including rope, oil, edible seeds, concrete, clothing, paper, and much more. Wisconsin already imports some of these products, but we could benefit even more from producing our own hemp crops on our own land.
At least 30 other states have enacted legislation that allows them to produce hemp for either research or commercial purposes. It’s time for Wisconsin to catch up. With so many roads – like Highway 33, 188, and more – in dangerous states of disrepair, and our public schools trying to find all the money they can to keep their doors open, our state is in desperate need of an opportunity to cooperate across the aisle and find a new, creative source of income. Industrial hemp is that opportunity, and we need to take advantage of it now before we are the last in the nation. Please contact your legislators and ask them to support industrial hemp in Wisconsin.
Rep. Dave Considine D-Baraboo, represents District 81 in the Wisconsin Assembly.