SAN FRANCISCO - August 22 - Rainforest Action Network today called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which passed the state Assembly on Wednesday with strong bipartisan support. The bill would lift the ban on one of the most economically and ecologically promising alternatives to industrial logging and give farmers the ability to legally supply US manufacturers with hemp seed, oil and fiber.
“We need to look past all the misconceptions about hemp and embrace its potential as a sustainable raw material for everything from paper to textiles to soap,” said Brant Olsen, director of Rainforest Action Network’s Old Growth Campaign. “In signing this bill, Governor Schwarzenegger will create a boon for California farmers and our regional economy, and he will show the nation that there is an environmentally sustainable alternative to turning our last remaining forests into paper.”
The US consumes more paper than any other nation in the world. Each American on average consumes more than 730 pounds of paper every year, less than a third of which comes from recycled sources. Economically, shortages in recycled and other alternative fibers have led to uncertainty in the volatile pulp and paper markets. Industrial hemp is one of the most viable alternatives to virgin wood fiber, typically producing three to eight tons of dry fiber per acre annually. The fibers from industrial hemp can be used in diverse paper products, including high-quality printing and writing papers, and specialty grades for packaging and other applications.
Originally introduced in Feb., 2005 by democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno, AB 1147 prohibits backyard or horticultural cultivation. Any clandestine grove of Cannabis would be considered a controlled substance regardless of THC content. Backers of the bill said it was carefully crafted to comply with existing federal law and that it could revitalize industrial hemp farming.
“We thank legislators from both parties that listened to the facts about industrial hemp and made a historic decision to bring back the crop,” said Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. “Passage in the California legislature is a major accomplishment for the authors and sponsors of the bill as well as thousands of ecology conscious people, farmers, and businesses that wrote California legislators.”