Remember those North Dakotan farmers we mentioned a while back? The ones that want to grow hemp for commercial use in the United States? Well, those hippies are still at it, and they've managed to garner the attention of the New York Times this time. A story on the struggles of North Dakotan farmers to commercially grow hemp got front page news yesterday (below the fold, but still...).
It turns out they're not crazed hippies looking for a back door legalization of marijuana. The lead proponent of hemp farming in North Dakota is David Monson. Monson is a farmer, a high school principal, and in his spare time, a Republican representative in the state legislature. You might say, "Right. I don't believe you. He's probably high right now." Not so, says Monson. It just makes good economic sense:
"Look at me — do I look shady?" Mr. Monson, 56, asked, as he stood in work boots and a ball cap in the rocky, black dirt that spans mile after mile of North Dakota's nearly empty northern edge. "This is not any subversive thing like trying to legalize marijuana or whatever. This is just practical agriculture. We're desperate for something that can make us some money."
Right now, no hemp is grown commercially in the United States for industrial use (though there's a lot grown illegally, for other than industrial purposes). But there are plenty of hemp products on the market in the U.S. - t-shirts, blankets, waffles (yes, waffles), for example. All the hemp is imported from other countries, though. Monson - and the rest of North Dakota - may be onto something.