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Indybay Feature
Leno-DeVore Measure to Allow Farmers to Grow Industrial Hemp Gains Traction from Poll
by Shannan Velayas
Tuesday Mar 20th, 2007 10:24 AM
71% of Californians Support Changing State Law to Allow Hemp Farming;
AB 684 to be heard in Assembly Public Safety Committee on March 27th
SACRAMENTO, CA —As California prepares to celebrate the hard-working farmers and ranchers that contribute to the state’s largest industry tomorrow on California Agricultural Day, a poll conducted by Zogby International was released today confirming strong support for reforming state laws that prevent farmers from growing industrial hemp. Legislation that Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) have re-introduced permitting California farmers to grow industrial hemp for the sale of seed, oil and fiber to manufacturers (AB 684) will be heard in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on March 27th.

The telephone poll, commissioned by Vote Hemp, a non-profit, grass-roots organization co-sponsoring the Leno-DeVore measure, tracked the opinions of 801 likely California voters between February 22-26, 2007. A total of 71% support changing State law to allow farmers to grow hemp. Of those surveyed, 46% strongly support, and 25% somewhat support changing state law. The poll has a 3.5% margin of error.

“The Zogby poll underscores that Californians of all political persuasions think we should change our senseless policy of importing industrial hemp while prohibiting our own farmers from growing it,” said Assemblyman Leno. “Passage of AB 684 will mean that California farmers will have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of this $270 million industry that’s growing by $26 million each year.”

Additionally, the poll shows strong support from self-identified conservative and liberal voters to change state law on hemp. More than 60% of Republicans support changing California law and 74% of Democrats are in support. Support was also was steady among all age groups ranging from 54% of 18 to 29 year olds to 82% of 30 to 49 year olds, 74% of 50 to 64 years olds and 60% of those over 65 years old. Even among those who consider themselves to be very conservative, 51% supported changing state law to allow industrial hemp cultivation.

“Large majorities of California Republicans and conservatives support allowing our farmers to grow industrial hemp in competition with foreign imports,” said Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, “This is an issue of freeing our farmers to compete in growing hemp, a non-drug, legal and safe crop.”

Leno and DeVore authored a similar measure in the Assembly last year. It passed both houses of the legislature but was vetoed by the Governor. This year, AB 684 has been buoyed by the support by co-authors Assemblymembers Anthony Adams (R-Claremont) and Patty Berg (D-Eureka), as well as Senator Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks).

AB 684 would regulate commercial industrial hemp farming in California. Hemp, a variety of cannabis that grows up to 16 feet tall and resembles bamboo, has less than 0.3% THC and has no psychoactive effects while marijuana contains 3 to 15% THC. Industrial hemp is one of nature’s strongest fibers and is processed throughout the world for body care products, food, paper, clothing, automotive parts, building materials, and numerous other uses. The seed has high nutritional value and the fiber offers numerous environmental benefits. Today, more than 30 industrialized nations grow industrial hemp and many export it to the US. AB 684 has tight controls on industrial hemp plants that relieve law enforcement of the burden of having to discern legal hemp from illegal marijuana in common drug busts.
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