Nearly 500 supermarkets of all sizes came out to support the second annual Hemp History Week on May 2-8. In those stores, consumers learned that industrial hemp is a prime source of omega essential fatty acids. They also discovered that hemp is extremely versatile. Food products span almost every category, and the fibrous stalks can be made into clothing. What's not to like?
Plenty, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which has yet to lift a ban on hemp farming due to the plant's association with its relative, marijuana. Even though hemp produces no THC, the psychoactive agent in marijuana, federal authorities continue to ban U.S. farmers from planting the hemp crops.
Most food-grade hemp must be imported from Canada, though rising demand is crimping supplies.
“One company I know of spent more than $3 million on seed from another country,” said Christina Volgyesi, project coordinator for the week-long effort. “That could have been $3 million for our farmers.”
With more than $400 million in North American sales last year, many job-hungry states support hemp farming.
Meanwhile, an advocacy group continues to lobby Congress for passage of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would supersede the DEA regulations.