California legislators have sent a bill to Gov. Schwarzenegger that would legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp, setting up a direct confrontation with federal drug authorities. The plant, which contains none of the hallucinogenic properties of marijuana, is considered a kind of miracle crop by farmers and entrepreneurs who seek to exploit its fast growth and myriad uses.
New York Times:
Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican running for re-election, has been mum on his intentions, with the political calculus of hemp in California difficult to decipher. The bill was the handiwork of two very different lawmakers, Assemblyman Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat best known for attempting to legalize same-sex marriage, and Assemblyman Charles S. DeVore, an Orange County Republican who worked in the Pentagon as a Reagan-era political appointee.
Their bipartisan communion underscores a deeper shift in hemp culture that has evolved in recent years, from ragtag hempsters whose love of plants with seven leaves ran mostly to marijuana, to today?s savvy coalition of organic farmers and health-food entrepreneurs working to distance themselves from the drug.
Hundreds of hemp products, including energy bars and cold-pressed hemp oil, are made in California, giving the banned plant a capitalist aura. But manufacturers must import the raw material, mostly from Canada, where hemp cultivation was legalized in 1998.