By Marcus Flores
Wrapped ‘round the quarter acre plantation were 12-foot fences topped with razor wire. It was monitored by—although armed guards were preferable—24-hour infrared surveillance cameras. Along with a library of documentation, this fortress was required by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for the University of Hawaii’s 1999 permit to grow industrial hemp, a plant which has no psychoactive value.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified hemp alongside marijuana (and heroin and cocaine) as a Class I substance. Yet hemp, a subtype of cannabis sativa, was bred specifically to minimize the THC content as well as to maximize the strength of its fibers. Probably due to the cost of federal compliance, Hawaii did not opt to renew its permit, and so far it has been the only state to submit to the regulations of a government in denial about the medical as well as industrial applications of certain flora.
Common sense was at one time more prevalent in United States agriculture. In fact, hemp once made Lexington the center of the textile universe before it became illegal. Now, the United States must import from Canada the crops its Founding Fathers grew.