Is it time to make hemp legal in N.H. again?
An overwhelming number of Live Free or Die Alliance Facebook respondents say it is
On March 13, the New Hampshire House voted to remove hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances. The matter now rests with the state Senate Judiciary Committee, which is looking at House Bill 153 before it goes to the full Senate, presumably before month’s end.
If the Legislature is looking for a slam-dunk example of being in tune with Granite State citizens, it should move quickly to pass the bill and get it over to Gov. Maggie Hassan’s desk for her signature. That is, a recent assessment of the Live Free or Die Alliance’s nearly 12,500 Facebook followers (an ideologically diverse group, as seen in their past comments) shows that pro-hemp sentiment sprouts from the soil of common ground.
We asked: “In a voice vote this morning, the NH House passed HB 153, a bill to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances (a roster of illegal drugs that includes its botanical cousin, marijuana). Supporters tout hemp's hardy, yet eco-friendly, nature and versatility of uses in textiles, paper and other goods. Opponents say industrial hemp is a non-starter, as federal laws will make it impossible to make money on hemp. And though its low THC content means it won't be used as a drug, some authorities fear hemp could be used to conceal marijuana in growing fields (though others dispute this). Should NH take industrial hemp off the list of illegal drugs?”
The question received 273 responses, including 129 concurrences (which Facebook calls “likes”) and 43 people sharing the question and its associated image on their own Facebook walls. The pro-hemp sentiment was unmistakable.
Of the 87 citizens who made a public comment on the question, 93 percent favored removing hemp from the list of illegal drugs, while 3.5 percent opposed it or didn’t answer the question.
Those who opposed making hemp legal declined to specify why, other than one presumably tongue-in-cheek response that said: “You have to smoke an acre of this stuff to get a buzz and it is therefore not green/eco-friendly.”
However, those who support legalization – as the question indicates – touted its use in textiles and paper and as a legitimate cash crop.
“This is just so ridiculous!! It can do so much to help our economy (and) environment,” said one woman criticizing the ban on hemp. “It is absurd that it is illegal! There (is) no legitimate rationale behind it being illegal!”
Other supporters’ comments echoed this sentiment (though a handful also expressed support for legalizing marijuana and “all plants” at the same time). Given the preponderance of opinion to our question, the state Senate and governor – like the majority of state representatives – would seem to risk little to no sanction by endorsing the legalization of industrial hemp.
The Live Free or Die Alliance presents this report not as any sort of scientific poll or survey, but rather a digest of citizen testimony, where respondents are (to the greatest extent possible) identifiable by their real names. As New Hampshire's Town Hall, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Live Free or Die Alliance is free and open to all, offering a unique and important mechanism for nearly 15,000 community members to express their views.
John F.J. Sullivan is editor-in-chief of the Live Free or Die Alliance (http://nhlfda.org).