WASHINGTON, DC — Vote Hemp released today ratings of the leading presidential candidates to help voters nationwide learn more about their views on non-psychoactive industrial hemp. The results of the survey are available at www.VoteHemp.com/voter_guide.html. Candidates were given a letter grade reflecting their views and willingness to participate in the “2004 Vote Hemp Candidate Survey,” which asked the candidates if they support: hemp farming and processing in the U.S. under a straightforward regulatory regime similar to those in the EU, Canada and other countries; states’ rights to study hemp farming and processing without federal interference; hemp fiber products for construction, automotive, paper, textile and other industries; and hemp food products in the face of the Bush Administration’s attempt to ban them. The survey results are crucial for an increasing number of U.S. farmers, environmentalists and entrepreneurs who are seeking reform in laws affecting the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp and hemp products in the United States.
“After spending three months trying to get these candidates to respond to our survey, it is clear that most of them have not researched this issue and choose to remain ignorant on the benefits of industrial hemp.” says Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp, the leading organization dedicated to the recommercialization of hemp agriculture and industry in the United States. “Only Democrat Dennis Kucinich, Green Party Candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Gary Nolan received ‘A’ grades,” says Steenstra.
Representative Dennis Kucinich replied to the survey just two weeks after receiving it. He expressed full support for keeping hemp food products legal, despite the Drug Enforcement Administration’s attempt to ban edible hemp. He also supports allowing farmers to grow hemp and would loosen restrictions on industrial hemp research. He is by far the strongest supporter of hemp among Democrats.
Senator John Edwards was at first reluctant to answer the survey, but after getting a direct question in New Hampshire from Vote Hemp National Coordinator Tom Murphy, Edwards personally promised to answer the survey. Edwards got a “B-” rating for keeping his promise and supporting states’ rights to research industrial hemp without federal interference. However, he remained “undecided” on the legality of hemp food and hemp cultivation. As an interesting side note, Edwards grew up in Robbins, NC, a town that from 1904 to 1943 was named “Hemp” due to hemp agriculture’s prominence as one of America’s most important crops before the “Reefer Madness” hysteria of last century.
Governor Howard Dean received a “C-” grade based on his past neutral position on pro-industrial hemp legislation that became law in Vermont without his signature in 1996. Dean’s failure to respond to the Vote Hemp survey despite publicly stating that he would give his position on any issue, and his clear neglect of his staff’s recommendations to reply, resulted in his below average rating.
Both the Reverend Al Sharpton and Senator Joe Lieberman received “D-” grades for failing to respond to the survey after numerous attempts to contact them.
Senator John Kerry and General Wesley Clark received “F” grades for publicly promising they would answer our survey and, even after extending deadlines to accommodate them, breaking their word by failing to respond. Unfortunately both Kerry and Clark chose to play politics instead of honoring their public promises.
President George W. Bush received an “F” grade for overseeing the DEA’s assault on industrial hemp over the past few years. His campaign responded to the survey by saying they were not established yet and later refused to respond.
Hundreds of U.S. businesses, mainly small or family operations, manufacture for resale or own stores that sell a wide variety of products made from industrial hemp. Products made with hemp fiber and seed are sold in thousands of retail stores across the country, including chain stores like Wal-Mart, Staples, Whole Foods Market and The Body Shop. Hemp fiber composites are in over two million U.S. cars made by Ford, DaimlerChrysler and other auto-makers. Unfortunately, American companies must import hemp fiber and seed from Canada, Europe and Asia. This is despite the fact that hemp grows well in all 50 states and the U.S. has a long and rich history of hemp farming dating back to Colonial times when George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their farms and widely promoted the use of hemp. A recent Zogby poll of 1,000 likely U.S. voters showed that 66% support allowing U.S. farmers to grow industrial hemp.
Vote Hemp is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow hemp commercially.