On September 28th of this year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 566 into the law. Its language, authored by California Senator Mark Leno, is a preparatory outline for farmers and enforcement agencies to be able to move forward with the cultivation of agricultural hemp come January 1, 2014.

SB 566 combines a clear picture of the strict regulations requested by the Department of Justice (to be enforced by the state) and lays out the monetary and environmental potentials of non-psychoactive cannabis sativa (hemp). Minus the regulations, it reads like an excerpt from Jack Herer’s hemp bible, The Emperor Wears No Clothes.

There has, however, been speculation as to if the DoJ will continue to hold the Federal Government’s recent permissive stance on allowing states to enforce cannabis laws as voted in by the people.

Senator Leno remains optimistic. He told HIGH TIMES, “I’m very encouraged by the statements out of the US Department of Justice office. Deputy Attorney General Cole said that as long as states establish a regulatory system for marijuana that the federal government would not interfere. I have to believe this means that if they aren’t going to interfere with states that have regulatory marijuana, why would they interfere with hemp? It is just completely irrational.” He added, “I’ll be working with the state Attorney General to get clarification from the US Attorney General that our belief is correct,” regardless of post-shutdown ripples.

Hemp is the only crop that is illegal to grow in the United States and yet is allowed for import. These schizophrenic policies stem from hemp’s identical federal scheduling to marijuana, basically the stubborn lingering fumes of reefer madness.

And speaking of getting high out of your mind (hungry, giggly and horny, oh my!), anyone in the marijuana world knows that there’s no going back to seedy weed. In case you didn’t get the memo, the government’s concern is that potent weed will be hidden within hemp fields. Male (hemp) or hermaphrodite plants have little comparison to their seedless female “cousins,” as far as psychoactive properties go. Sinsemilla (Spanish for seed-free) cannabis was a permanent game changer. Female plants covered in sticky resins paved the way to hybrid strains, bubble hash, dabs, full-plant extracts and liberating grassroots campaigns. Seedy, fibrous hemp fields will never hide a pot grow. Male hemp plants would pollinate and ruin mind altering marijuana; active marijuana would take up valuable hemp stock space in a field -- and then have a crappy outcome anyway.

Getting back to the strict regulations spelled out in SB 566, here’s an example, “Prior to harvest, farmers would be required to obtain a laboratory test report from a federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) registered laboratory documenting the THC content of their crop. Farmers must destroy industrial hemp crop that fail the THC test.” Strict, yes, but also easy, hemp naturally has less than a third of 1% THC. Other rules include the posting of “Industrial Hemp” signs and a five-acre minimum grow space.

Senator Leno is a passionate advocate. He told us, “I’ve been working on the issue of industrial hemp for ten years and it always escaped me as to how we can legally import a product that our farmers cannot grow themselves. My interest in hemp is that it’s a miracle plant. It’s renewable every 90 days, requires less water than corn and no pesticides.”

We all know the Feds have stubbornly long memories, so they know all these facts, too. During World War II, farmers were required to grow hemp to help subsidize the war efforts. They even made this great, encouraging mini-documentary, Hemp for Victory. The fact that hemp is again prohibited is, as Sen. Leno put it, “ridiculous.”

SB 566 describes a few of the more common utilizations of the plant, “An acre of hemp produces two to four times more fiber than an acre of timber and it grows from seeding to maturity in just 90 days. Trees may be reserved for higher-end uses such as lumber, and hemp would supplement paper and fiberboard production. Additionally, hemp is an alternative to petroleum to manufacturer plastics and may be used as a raw material for ethanol fuel. Hemp is particularly promising for emerging cellulostic ethanol technologies due to its rapid growth.” All of which equals big boosts in local jobs and economic well being.

David Bronner of the internationally successful California based Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, told HIGH TIMES, “When industrial hemp is recommercialized in the US and American farmers once again grow this sustainable and profitable agricultural crop, we anticipate costs of hemp seed and fiber to come down significantly. Also with the drug stigma removed and businesses assured of a stable regulatory environment, free from government harassment, we expect to see a whole new wave of hemp related entrepreneurship, R&D and product development.”

Hemp is a victory for all, and it’s about time the US got on board. I’ll leave you some final statistics from SB 566: “Industrial hemp is currently legal to grow in more than 30 countries including Canada, Germany, England, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, the the Russian Federation, China, Hungary and Romania. These countries meet all of the worldwide demand for raw industrial hemp and US farmers are being left out. While California is one of 15 states that have passed pro-hemp laws or resolutions and an additional thirteen states have considered pro-hemp legislation or resolutions, there is no hemp cultivation currently in the United States.”