Hemp activist and noted Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson was arrested and charged with cultivation of fewer than five marijuana plants after he brazenly planted four seeds of industrial hemp in full view of Lee County Sheriff William Kilburn. The planting and subsequent arrest are part of an orchestrated protest by Harrelson to challenge the continued prohibition of industrial hemp. Harrelson expects to be found guilty of the misdemeanor charge and intends to appeal because current law makes no distinction between marijuana and industrial hemp.
“The law prohibiting hemp cultivation] is overly broad,” explained Burl McCoy, a Lexington attorney who was on hand to represent the actor. “There is no rational basis for the statute.”
In a June 5 press release, the famed actor of both television and film explained his actions.
“I am not one to go out of my way to get arrested. But in this case, I thought it was important for me to take that step in order to demonstrate the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana.
“Industrial hemp, like the four certified seeds I planted, was first grown in Kentucky two hundred and fifty years ago. It is currently grown in other countries across the globe, including France, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, China, Hungary, and the Ukraine. Industrial hemp has very little THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. [Therefore,] it cannot be used as a drug. None of the countries that allow industrial hemp production have experienced any problems relating to the crop.
“Industrial hemp is very clean and easy to grow. It is one of the most environmentally sound sources of industrial fiber in the world. … Environmentally friendly detergents, plastics, paints, varnishes, cosmetics, and textiles are already being made from it in Europe. … Industrial hemp can meet our fiber needs while also revitalizing our struggling rural economies.
“Congress never intended to make legitimate industrial hemp farming the same as marijuana cultivation. I planted industrial hemp and got arrested because someone must highlight this difference and in order to truly know the law, one must test the law. I think it is time for all of us to make a stand … for environmentally friendly, rural economic development. If the people lead the leaders will follow.”
Harrelson, who is part owner of The Hempstead Company — one of the largest hemp clothing companies in the nation — notes that he intends to plant hemp in additional states to further challenge the laws.
For more information, please contact the office of Simon Halls at (212) 957-0707 or the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project (CO-HIP) at (303) 784-5632. Press releases regarding Harrelson’s arrest are available on the Internet at The Hempstead Company website. Their website may be linked from the Hemp Industries Association homepage at: http://thehia.org.