Girly-Man Cowers Before the DEA

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The Drug War Chronicle reports that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week vetoed a bill that would have allowed the state's farmers to grow hemp for fiber, food, and cosmetics. The bill defined hemp as a nonpsychoactive variety of cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC. Such plants are grown legally all over the world, and the U.S. imports many products made from them. The U.S. ban on cultivation is a purely symbolic policy that expresses the revulsion of hard-line drug warriors toward anything that resembles marijuana. In addition to hippie-ish enthusiasts attracted by hemp's countercultural cachet, plenty of straight-laced farmers and entrepreneurs support legalization of the crop. For a Republican governor desperately running to the left in a Democratic state, signing the bill would have been a way to demonstrate his independence from the GOP's right wing while staying safely in California's mainstream. Instead Schwarzenegger yielded to the demands of drug warriors who insist, contrary to the experience of every country where hemp cultivation is legal, that lifting the ban would "cause significant problems with drug enforcement activities," which he says "is troubling given the needs in this state for the eradication and prevention of drug production."