The letter below is from Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK 1st District) to a Vote Hemp supporter in reply to a letter asking him to become a sponsor for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009.
Rep. John Sullivan
(R-OK 1st District)
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July 23, 2009
Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts on hemp farming. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.
The ongoing national debate over whether industrial hemp should be legalized raises numerous issues. The bottom line for government should be whether legalizing hemp is more costly than beneficial to society. Federal law governs the conditions under which hemp can be legally grown. Unless the law is changed, states may not license anyone to grow hemp without first insuring compliance with strict Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations and oversight.
Industrial hemp and marijuana are products of the same plant, cannabis sativa. Most of the seedlings look the same and in many instances the plants are virtually identical. A 1992 Dutch study of ninety-seven strains of cannabis sativa that included both industrial hemp and smokable marijuana found that, short of chemical analysis, there was no way to differentiate between the plants. The THC in hemp products pose health risks and there are thousands of published research articles on the effects of marijuana. The July 2000 issue of the Journal of Immunology states that THC can promote tumor growth by impairing the body's anti-tumor immunity system.
A 2000 USDA report finds little promise that hemp could become any more than a product for a niche market. The report states, "Hemp is unlikely to be a sustainable, economically viable alternative crop given the uncertainty of demand and market prices. . . The ready availability of other lower cost raw materials is a major reason for a 50 percent drop in worldwide hemp production since the early 1980s."
Legalization of hemp would send a pro-drug message, which I oppose. Given the significant concerns about THC, and its lack of viability as an agricultural crop, I do not support a change in current government policy. While we may not entirely agree on this issue, I appreciate you sharing your concerns with me. Please contact me again should you have further concerns about federal legislation or programs affecting you and your family.
Member of Congress