It hasn’t gotten the attention of medical marijuana, but a growing number of states have passed laws authorizing the growth of hemp and are attempting to get the federal government to make it legal nationwide.
Hemp can be cultivated for fiber or oilseed, and it is used to make thousands of products worldwide including clothing and auto parts. From 1999 through last year, 17 states have enacted measures that would either permit controlled cultivation or authorize research of industrial hemp, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Colorado was the most recent to authorize research in 2010. Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia have passed laws authorizing cultivation, according to NORML.
Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species of plant, Cannabis Sativa. Industrial hemp has lower THC content, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.
The federal government classifies all cannabis plants as marijuana and places strict controls on the cultivation of hemp. Industrial hemp was an American staple in colonial times. The output peaked during World War II.
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