A New Reason Foundation Study—Illegally Green: Environmental and Economic Costs of Hemp Prohibition

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Drug prohibition is stupid. Even stupider is a ban on a product because it's related to one implicated in the idiotic Drug War. Reason Foundation's Skaidra Smith-Heisters has a new study on the environmental and economics benefits of industrial hemp.

"There are numerous environmental advantages to hemp," says Smith-Heisters. "Hemp often requires less energy to manufacture into products. It is less toxic to process. And it is easier to recycle and more biodegradable than most competing crops and products. Unfortunately, we won't realize the full economic and environmental benefits of hemp until the crop is legal in the United States."

The study also points out

Not only has the government banned hemp production in the U.S., it is also directly subsidizing other crops that the study shows to be "environmentally inferior." Corn farmers received $51 billion in subsidies between 1995 and 2005; wheat farmers were given $21 billion; cotton farmers fleeced taxpayers for $15 billion; and tobacco farmers were handed $530 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies. 

The full study, Illegally Green: Environmental Costs of Hemp Prohibition, is available here. A short summary of the report can be found here.

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  1. You can also make paper out of it.

  2. You can also change your mind about it. Right, Ron?

  3. tobacco farmers were handed $530 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

    This is like an economic short circuit or something.

    I’m moving to…

    Shit.

  4. I don’t get it

  5. But .. but … it’s a gateway crop!

  6. Was that tobacco thing truly a subsidy, as in checks being handed out or is that just the “estimate” of the benefit to some of planting restrictions?

    Also, since when did every type of hemp get banned? Perhaps my impression that it was only cannabis sativa was the illegal plant, but the other varieties were not an issue.

  7. cultvating hemp is illegal in the US. Importing hemp fabric is OK, I have several items of clothing made from hemp that I have to buy online from a Euro importer. It’s fabulous material.

    Hemp seeds and hemp seed butter and oils were once legal for sale, but the USDA restricted its import and I seldom see it for sale any longer. It may now be illegal as well. Hemp seed is very nutritious, high in protein and omega 3s, and its tasty. Somewhere along the way, someone must have thought that eating a tub of hempseed butter would get you high, and that buying crackers or bars made with hemp seeds you could start a drug farm.

  8. Hemp seed is very nutritious, high in protein and omega 3s, and its tasty

    Yeah, but those are gateway nutrients. Soon enough, children will be slumped over in back alleys, clutching bottles of Flintstones Vitamins…

  9. Oops! Sorry for the partial rip-off, Mike Laursen…

  10. Some of these headlinse seem to indicate that the illegality has shifted as of late, but I have not read any of them yet. Interesting stuff though.

  11. Guy Montag, read a few headlines skimmed articles. Thanks for the link.

    It seems that in states where industrial hemp production is being legalized, the farmers have to apply for permits and leave their farms open to drop-in inspection at all times to be sure they aren’t hiding the good stuff in with the industrial crop.

  12. Madbiker,

    Sounds just like tobacco stamps.

  13. No, problem. It was a pretty darned obvious joke, sort of floating out there in the ether of irony that makes up our universe. We were just its conduits.

  14. On those tobacco subsidies–the government is now buying out the “allotments” that it awarded to tobacco farmers back in the Great Depression. The farm I grew up on had a tobacco allotment and I spent a portion of each of my childhood summers, planting, hoeing, suckering, cutting, then grading Burley for auction.

    Then the nice government came along and paid my family some money to get out the business.

  15. Ah, so the quote “tobacco farmers were handed $530 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies” actually means that former tobacco farmers were paid to cease production?

    I still don’t like the concept in general (industry subsidies), but your comment gives this statement a whole new meaning.

  16. BTW, Ron, when you were on the farm, were people smoking rolled tobacco yet or was it still all pipes and chewing? 🙂

  17. Well, Ron beat me to it.

    All we have to do was pay quota-holding farmers $10,000,000,000 between 2005 and 2015. Then they can grow corn or something and get money that way.

    The Tobacco Buyout, perhaps an example of the only way to end farm programs: pay ransom.

  18. Oh, and the money theoretically comes from the tobacco processing/importing industry, so–according to economic theory of tax incidence, etc.–part of the buyout comes out of all tobacco farmers in the form of lower market prices for harvested tobacco and higher cigarette/tobacco product prices (assuming they consume tobacco).

  19. Hemp products are available at the Vitamin Cottages I patronize here in the Denver area. Don’t know where they get the stuff, though. Don’t ask, don’t tell! 🙂

    It’s always worth being skeptical of studies being done by some group that would like the study to turn out in some particular way, but even if the Reason Foundation may be exaggerating the value of industrial hemp (perish the thought!), it only stands to reason (drink if you like, but that’s the well-worn phrase!) limiting our legal choices can only be bad.

  20. “Not only has the government banned hemp production in the U.S., it is also directly subsidizing other crops that the study shows to be “environmentally inferior.” Corn farmers received $51 billion in subsidies between 1995 and 2005; wheat farmers were given $21 billion; cotton farmers fleeced taxpayers for $15 billion; and tobacco farmers were handed $530 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies.”

    Well there you go. Guess who’s driving the train to keep hemp illegal? And as a benefit, they can use the WoD as a cover.

  21. While recently in WA state at a Fred Meyer’s, I saw hemp protein powder supplements. Like Muscle Milk, but made with hemp. Imported from Canada.

    I wanted to buy some but I didn’t want to risk some pissant South Carolina airport cop or TSA goon going apeshit.

  22. I have a crazy idea: maybe people should have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    I know, too radical.

  23. I wanted to buy some but I didn’t want to risk some pissant South Carolina airport cop or TSA goon going apeshit.

    Hey Jim Bob, why not mail it to yourself? That’s still legal ain’t it?

  24. “I spent a portion of each of my childhood summers, planting, hoeing, suckering, cutting, then grading Burley for auction.”

    And now we have the Ron Bailey/Al Gore connection.

  25. Vote Hemp has released a new poll of likely North Dakota voters about industrial hemp. According to the poll, a total of 74% of North Dakota voters support changing federal law to allow farmers to grow hemp. Please read our press release and then educate your Representative about hemp farming and voters’ support for it in North Dakota.

    Please click here to write to your Representative in Congress and ask them to cosponsor HR 1009, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007, today!

  26. The latest news is the best: marijuana use may help prevent Alzhiemers. Also on Web MD.

    This isn’t a joke. (Sorry if there’s been a post that I missed about this).

  27. And now we have the Ron Bailey/Al Gore connection.

    Nah. Bailey actually slaved over bringing in the tobacco. Gore was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. If he worked more than a week in the fields, I’d be shocked.

  28. “The farm I grew up on had a tobacco allotment and I spent a portion of each of my childhood summers, planting, hoeing, suckering, cutting, then grading Burley for auction.

    Bailey, where did you grow up? I was born in Kentucky, near Cave City, and spent a summer or two working on tobacco crops as well. Hot, miserable work for next to no pay.

  29. Drug prohibition is stupid. Even stupider is a ban on a product because it’s related to one implicated in the idiotic Drug War.

    And yet, Chicago attempts to ban plastic bags that are used in drug sales. Perhaps they should consider banning parks, too, as drugs are sold in parks…

  30. Madbiker, hemp foods are legal despite recent attempts to change that. Hemp seed is sold at natural food stores like Whole Foods.

  31. Say that reminds me. Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy. Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Transfered FROM US TO THEM. Over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They just keep getting richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductible crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. Cashing in on the PR and getting even richer the following year. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. Their bogus efforts to make the world a better place can not possibly succeed. Any ‘humanitarian’ progress made in one area will be lost in another. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. So don’t fall for any of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductible contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah, Ellen, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool.. WAKE UP PEOPLE. THEIR GOAL IS TO WIN THE GAME. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Reaganomics. Their idea. Loans from China. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. High energy prices. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit. Their idea. The multi-million dollar endorsement. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. Brainwash plots on TV. Their idea. Prozac, Zanex, Vioxx, and Celebrex. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed, credit card, pharmaceutical, love-sick, couch potatoe, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of the above shrink the middle class, concentrate the world’s wealth and resources, create a dominoe effect of socio-economic problems, and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and politicians. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for any of their ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTIBLE PR CRAP. In many cases, the ‘charitable’ contribution is almost entirely offset.. Not to mention the opportunity to plug their name, image, product, and ‘good will’ all at once. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These filthy pigs even have the nerve to throw a fit and spin up a misleading defense with regard to ‘tax revenue’. ITS A SHAM. THEY SCREWED UP THE EQUATION TO BEGIN WITH. ITS THEIR OWN DAMN FAULT. If the middle and lower classes had a greater share of the pie, they could easily cover a greater share of the federal tax revenue. They are held down in many ways because of greed. Wages remain stagnant for millions because the executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, and entrepreneurs, are paid millions. They over-sell, over-charge, under-pay, outsource, cut jobs, and benefits to increase their bottom line. As their profits rise, so do the stock values. Which are owned primarily by the richest 5%. As more United States wealth rises to the top, the middle and lower classes inevitably suffer. This reduces the potential tax reveue drawn from those brackets. At the same time, it wreaks havok on middle and lower class communities and increases the need for financial aid. Not to mention the spike in crime because of it. There is a dominoe effect to consider. So when people forgive the rich for all of the above and then praise them for paying a greater share of the FEDERAL income taxes, its like nails on a chalk board. If these filthy pigs want to be over-paid, then they should be over-taxed as well. Remember: The richest 1% STILL own 1/2 of all United States wealth EVEN AFTER taxes, charity, and PR CRAP. A similar rule applies worldwide. There is nothing anyone can say to justify that. Anyway, there is usually a higher state and local burden on the middle and lower classes. They get little or nothing without a local tax increase. Otherwise, the red inks flows. Service cuts and lay-offs follow. Again, because of the OBSCENE distribution of bottom line wealth in this country. I can not accept any theory that our economy would suffer in any way with a more reasonable distribution of wealth. Afterall, it was more reasonable 30 years ago. Before Reaganomics came along. Before GREED became such an epidemic. Before we had an army of over-paid executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, investors, entrepreneurs, developers, and sold-out politicians to kiss their asses. As a nation, we were in much better shape. Lower crime rate, more widespread prosperity, stable job market, free and clear assets, lower deficit, ect. Our economy as a whole was much more stable and prosperous for the majority. WITHOUT LOANS FROM CHINA. Now, we have a more obscene distribution of bottom line wealth than ever before. We have a sold-out government, crumbling infrastructure, energy crisis, home forclosure epidemic, 13 figure national deficit, and 12 figure annual shortfall. The cost of living is higher than ever before. Most people can’t even afford basic health care. ALL BECAUSE OF GREED. I really don’t blame the 2nd -5th percentiles. No economy could ever function without some reasonable scale of personal wealth and income. But it can’t be allowed to run wild like a mad dog. ALBERT EINSTEIN TRIED TO MAKE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. UNBRIDLED CAPITALISM ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, and Bill are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE HUMANITARIAN. EXTREME WEALTH MAKES WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman. Of course, they will jump to small minded conclusions about ‘jealousy’, ‘envy’, or ‘socialism’. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

  32. @Truxter | March 14, 2008, 8:43pm

    Could you repeat that please?

    Have you ever seen a government with 300,000 presidents and 3,000,000 ministers? It’s the same. Some people know how to handle capital pretty well and so they do. Lots of people simply don’t. Some people know how to run a business with many employees. Most people don’t. So some people are in charge and do control huge amounts of capital where most people are not so in charge and do not have huge amounts of capital.

    That ‘bitch’ Oprah you are talking about grew up in poverty and worked pretty hard to establish a company that feeds thousands of people. She didn’t skip a single step. How do you expect to hire people if making money is prohibited? Do you think you can run an international broadcast company with two volunteers and a 100$ a month for expenses? Do you think it is even possible to direct a small business into a huge successful organization if being in control of capital is not allowed, if the boy on the parking lot has have as much to say as you do?

    On topic, this war on drugs is useless. Most people don’t do drugs, even if it’s made available for free. It’s 2008 and most grownups know how dangerous this stuff is. People who do use it will do it anyway and it is better to examine why they do it. Understand why people start with it in the first place.

    Declaring ‘war’ on drugs only helps criminals. Prices of their merchandise skyrocket as long there is demand. People who provide drugs to minors should be thrown in jail for the rest of their lives.

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