The Parker Town Council has voted to table a proposed ordinance after two council members said they only heard of the proposed ordinance the day before the Nov. 19 council meeting.
The proposed ordinance, No. 08-2019, would’ve prohibited the growth, cultivation or processing of industrial hemp within the limits of the town. Council Member Marion Shontz said she only became aware of the proposed ordinance the afternoon of Nov. 18, and she did not feel comfortable voting on it until she had more information about it.
Mayor Dan Beaver agreed, saying he, too, only heard of the proposed ordinance the afternoon of Nov. 18. He said he knew nothing about the proposed ordinance, such as where it came from. He said a matter like this is something the council needed to discuss and think about before they voted on it.
Hemp is a commercial crop that has many uses, such as fabrics, paper, and medications. Hemp ropes are considered the strongest and most durable around. Production of hemp was banned in the United States for many years because it is a cannabis plant that is related to marijuana. The federal farm bill passed in 2018 allowed for the production of industrial hemp.
Beaver said he was aware of the many uses for hemp, and that Gov. Doug Ducey and other state officials have been promoting hemp. He said he didn’t want the Town of Parker to lose out on any economic opportunities presented by the production of hemp.
Hemp is a cannabis plant, and it’s related to marijuana. However, it’s not marijuana. It doesn’t have the THC that gives marijuana its “high.”
Hemp’s value as a crop has been known for centuries. Many people today know hemp ropes are among the best around. Hemp fabrics were used for clothing and ship’s sails since ancient times. The word “canvas” is derived from cannabis.
Hemp was also used to make paper. Hemp extracts and seeds have healthy benefits. It can also be used to make bio-fuels.
One of the advantages seen for hemp in Arizona is it produces a higher yield per acre than cotton or flax, and the fabrics are more durable. It also uses a lot less water, although it’s not considered a low-water crop. It’s also better for soil.
In colonial Virginia, farmers had to grow a certain amount of hemp by law. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both grew hemp. It was said Washington grew cannabis for his chronic toothache pains.
Hemp fell out of favor when federal and state governments began acting against marijuana in the 1930s. Many Mexican immigrants who poured into the United States during and after the Mexican Revolution brought their habit of smoking marijuana with them.
Harry Anslinger was named head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930. He began to demonize marijuana, picking up on the wild and false stories about Mexican immigrants and African-Americans who smoked marijuana.
It’s been speculated Anslinger feared the loss of federal law enforcement money when Prohibition was repealed, so he had to find something to demonize to justify the funding.
Anslinger was aided by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. It was said he hated Mexicans because he lost Mexican timberland he owned during the Mexican Revolution. He also liked sensationalism as it sold newspapers.
They also wanted to ban hemp, since it was related to marijuana. Hearst owned a lot of timberland that was used to make paper, and hemp paper was a rival. Chemical companies also supported banning hemp along with marijuana. They were creating new synthetic fabrics, and they produced chemicals that turned wood into paper.
Hemp farmers were driven into bankruptcy by the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 (that’s the correct spelling of the act). In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act made all forms of cannabis, including hemp along with marijuana, Schedule 1 drugs, considered as dangerous as heroin.
The 2018 Farm Bill made cultivation of industrial hemp legal again, but with many restrictions and regulations. These include limits on the THC found in the plants that would have them classified as marijuana rather than hemp. Among the supporters of the Farm Bill was Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who is also an opponent of legalizing marijuana.