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Vermont Study Demonstrates Strong Support For Domestic Hemp Production

Thursday, 16 January 1997

More than 75 percent of Vermont residents say that farmers should be allowed to grow industrial hemp as a cash crop, according to the results of a University of Vermont survey.

The survey, entitled "Alternative Agricultural Strategies in Vermont: The Case of Industrial Hemp," was part of a study commissioned by the state legislature last year to determine the viability of hemp production in Vermont. Of the 770 Vermonters who were contacted in the telephone survey, 402 responded.

The survey's key findings are as follows:

  • 77 percent of respondents said they supported changing the laws so farmers could grow hemp in Vermont.
  • 72 percent said that legalizing hemp would not hurt the effectiveness of drug education efforts.
  • 63 percent said that allowing domestic hemp cultivation would not inevitably lead to the legalization of marijuana.
  • 55 percent said they would substitute all of their purchase of cotton jeans with clothing made from hemp if they were of equal market price.

Often described as "marijuana's misunderstood cousin," industrial hemp is from the same species that produces marijuana. Unlike marijuana, however, industrial hemp has only minute amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana its medical and euphoric properties. Industrial hemp is currently grown legally through much of Europe, Asia, and parts of Canada to produce a variety of products such as textiles, paper, composites, paints, cosmetics, and animal feed.

"This survey indicates what the rapidly growing U.S. hemp market is already telling us," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "Americans want hemp products and they want their farmers to be a part of this prospering economic industry."

Last year, Vermont was among four states that introduced legislation to allow for domestic hemp cultivation. NORML expects at least twice as many states to introduce similar legislation this year. Presently, both Missouri and Virginia have industrial hemp measures pending before the state legislature.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. For information regarding the Virginia hemp bill, please contact Eric Steenstra of Ecolution at (703) 207-9001. For information regarding the Missouri hemp bill, please contact Dan Viets of Missouri NORML at (314) 443-6866. Copies of NORML's position paper: "Can America Afford Not To Grow This Plant?" are available upon request.