Editorial: Vermont could be a leader on hemp

Is the most recent move to legalize hemp cultivation in Vermont a step in the right direction or foolhardy? That’s the question on the minds of some legislators and citizens throughout the state as it comes before the full Legislature this week.
In the revised legislation, the language and the intent is much simpler and more direct. To paraphrase, it simply allows farmers to grow hemp without a lot of state bureaucracy watchdogging the operation, and plainly notes that any such production would be in violation of federal laws. It warns producers they face the risk of prosecution.
The object is not to encourage Vermont producers to violate federal law, but to put farmers and manufacturers of hemp-related products at the head of the line if ever the federal government wises up and recognizes that hemp is not marijuana.
What the state realizes is the crop has a high commercial value of its own, and that farmers have no intention of being drug producers or dealers.
What’s the hope of the feds changing course? Nothing is on the foreseeable horizon. The fear of drugs and anything that makes its spread seemingly easier or more prolific, no matter how false the information, has little chance of passage in a Congress so beholden to getting re-elected.
The most favorable impact the legislation might have is to eventually angle to make Vermont a pilot state in the production of hemp — demonstrating to other states and federal authorities that it could be a profitable agricultural product that doesn’t pose a threat to society. If that’s even a remote possibility, then nothing ventured, nothing gained.
— Angelo S. Lynn

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