Is industrial hemp, a variety of cannabis and a relative of marijuana, as versatile and important a crop as some of its proponents believe?
It certainly appears to be a much underutilized resource for American agriculture. According to a report released in March by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, there are more than 25,000 hemp products being used internationally.
Industrial hemp is bred to have only traces of THC, the intoxicating chemical compound that gets marijuana consumers high. Nevertheless, as a form of cannabis sativa L., hemp remains illegal under federal law – where it has been lumped together with marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act and classified as a dangerous Schedule I substance.
But that outlaw status for hemp is beginning to relax…