by Senator Mark Leno
Ed Note: Senator Leno’s hemp bill will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday
If you like shopping at your local natural foods or specialty grocery store, you’ve probably noticed the growing popularity of hemp as an ingredient in food and skin care products. Hemp seed, which is high in protein and essential fatty acids, is found in everything from bread, energy bars and waffles to coffee and protein powder. Thanks to its natural antioxidants and moisturizing oil, hemp is also a common ingredient in soaps, shampoos and lotions. Perhaps your favorite T-shirt is even made of hemp, which is an excellent alternative to cotton.
Even though most of these consumer products are created by California companies, our farmers are prohibited from growing industrial hemp. Instead of buying hemp from local farmers, local manufacturers are importing thousands of dollars of hemp seed, oil and fiber from growers overseas.
California farmers are missing out on a golden opportunity to tap into the growing industrial hemp products business of food, clothing, shelter, paper and fuel, which would greatly benefit our state’s economy and family farmers. Industrial hemp is a perfect, environmentally sustainable crop for our state. It requires little or no pesticides and herbicides and produces two to four times more fiber than an acre of timber. Hemp grows quickly, can be harvested every 90 days and is a great rotational crop, especially for organic farmers.
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