Compiled and edited by John E. Dvorak, Associate Editor, Hemp Magazine
Contact: boston.hemp@pobox.com


As has been the case over the last couple of years, Kentucky continues to make some of the most significant hemp headlines. Here is a recap of some of the KY stories that have recently hit the news wires:


Hempsters around the country celebrated Independence Day a day early when Kentucky Circuit Court Judge William Trude upheld the District Court of Lee County's January, 1997 ruling that Kentucky's laws prohibiting the cultivation of industrial hemp were "unconstitutionally defective due to its overbroad application." Woody Harrelson, who planted four hemp seeds in June of 1996, has started a process that could conceivably result in hemp once again being Kentucky's #1 cash crop. Woody declared from the steps of the courthouse that July 3rd was "Independence Day for Kentucky's farmers". Lee County's prosecuting attorney, Tom Jones, said that he will take the case to Kentucky's Court of Appeals, one step closer to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. [Contact: Burl McCoy, attorney for Woody Harrelson, 606-254-6363]


On July 9, 1997, Kentucky's Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, chaired by Republican Ernie Harris, heard testimony on industrial hemp. Long time hemp activist, Gatewood Galbraith, and the recently assailed school teacher, Donna Cockrel, were joined by farmers, hempsters, and concerned citizens who believe that hemp has a legitimate purpose in Kentucky's agricultural and economic future.

As is their wont, government officials tried to intimidate the Committee by flying DEA official, Greg Williams, in from Washington D.C. to testify. Williams warned that if hemp is legalized, people would soon be selling it as marijuana on the black market. More inane statements were made by other law and order types, including Kentucky's Justice Secretary, Dan Cherry (see "Quotes of Note" for examples). Three days after the hearings, a Lexington Herald-Leader editorial stated that "the unreasoned paranoia of law enforcement officials" was preventing an open debate on this subject. The editorial concluded by saying that a regulated hemp industry would work in America "if our law enforcement officials could get past their fear and accept the fact that the hemp you roll in paper isn't the same as the hemp used to make that paper." Committee chairman Harris indicated that the industrial hemp issue will be revisited in the future.


Simpsonville, Kentucky elementary school teacher, Donna Cockrel, made national news in the spring of 1996 when she brought Woody Harrelson into her classroom to discuss industrial hemp. Since then, Ms. Cockrel has been subjected to misguided accusations by the Shelby County Deputy Sheriff and DARE instructor, Audrey Yeager. Her conduct was also investigated by the state professional standards board, although the complaints were dismissed. In May of this year, Cockrel appealed what she considered to be an unfair evaluation by her principle, Bruce Slate. During the Shelby County Board of Education appeals panel hearing, dozens of Cockrel's supporters (and several relatives) demonstrated outside the hearing in support of the beleaguered instructor. Despite the fact that hemp has a long and rich past in the Bluegrass State, opponents claim that Cockrel was, in effect, promoting drug use (i.e., marijuana). On June 4, 1997, CNN's newsmagazine "American Edge" discussed this issue with Cockrel and Yeager. When asked how she felt about drug use, Cockrel responded "I believe that all children should say no to drugs. But I want them to say yes to the truth." (Yeager's thoughts are summarized below in "Quotes of Note".) Cockrel, who grew up on a farm, empathizes with the plight of Kentucky's farmers. She believes that hemp could supplement the income farmers receive from growing tobacco.

If the above harassment wasn't enough, the July 16, 1997 Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Donna Cockerel had been fired. A five page letter from Shelby County Schools Superintendent, Leon Mooneyhan, alleges that Cockrel, among other things, used profanity when referring to Simpsonville Principal Bruce Slate; encouraged or permitted students to cheat on field-day events; called students derogatory names; failed to participate in teachers' meetings; and didn't prepare lesson plans or teach required subjects. Mooneyhan said that none of the allegations dealt with hemp. Cockrel, who may run for a seat in the state senate in 1998 on a pro-hemp platform, intends to appeal her dismissal and to seek a public hearing on it. [Allen St. Pierre, The NORML Foundation, 202-483-8751, NATLNORML@aol.com]


The June 11, 1997 London Free Press reported that up to 1,000 acres of industrial hemp could be cultivated by Hempline Inc. in 1998. Geof Kime, president of Hempline Inc., is confident that his firm will be in full commercial production by next year. Thanks in part to Kime's lobbying efforts, Bill C-8, passed in May, 1997, makes a distinction between industrial hemp and therapeutic cannabis (marijuana). Officials at Health Canada assured Kime that industrial hemp regulations will be in place by January, 1998, paving the way for Hempline Inc. (and others) to plant the first commercial hemp crop in Canada in 70 years. Hempline Inc. will employ ten people when in full production. Kime expects to ship up to 90% of their crop to the United States for processing and sale. Hempline Inc., which has been growing hemp via an experimental license since 1994, is also developing the harvesting equipment necessary to cut and bail the hemp. [Contact: Geof Kime, 519-434-3684, gkime@hempline.com, www.hempline.com]


The Granby Hemp Cooperative has been granted the 1st experimental license to grow industrial hemp in British Columbia. The co-op will experiment with various uses of hemp, including edible oils and fiber. Roy Clermont of Can-Par is interested in using hemp stalks in his company's particle board because of its strength and because hemp fibers act as a fire retardant when used in these types of composite products.


On July 10, 1997, Matthew T. Huijgen, founder of the not-for-profit Hemp-CyberFarm, informed the on-line hemp community that he had obtained and posted a report that details the results of the 1996 experimental hemp cultivation trials in Manitoba, Canada. This exhaustive report, issued by New Crops Agronomist, Jack Moes, P.Ag., covers the following topics:
· Phytopathology of Seed
· Field Trials - Grain Hemp
· Small-plot Variety Evaluation - Fiber & Seed
· Herbicide and Seed-placed Fertilizer
· Insect Survey
· Pollinators Associated with Hemp
· Fiber Quality Evaluation - Pulp
· Seed Oil Quality Evaluation
· Economic Analysis

You can read the entire report at the Hemp-CyberFarm:
[Contacts: Jack Moes, newcrop@agric.gov.mb.ca & Matthew Huijgen, matthijs@west.net]


Reuters reported on June 25, 1997 that the European Union farm ministers had agreed to reduce the farmer's hemp subsidy in 1998 by 7.5% (about $30 per acre). European Union Farm Commissioner, Frank Fischeler, stated on June 20, 1997 that a cut in compensatory payments to cereals and oilseed farmers was needed to help finance aid for beef producers suffering from the repercussions of the recent outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease). Representatives from several E.U. countries including Germany, France, and Holland argued that it is unfair for their farmers to lose income because of this. A potential benefit for hemp (and other) farmers could arise as a result of the mad cow crisis. Because less cattle are being raised in England, there is now additional arable acreage available for the cultivation of hemp.


England's version of the DEA, the Home Office Drugs Branch, issued a release on April 23, 1997 stating that very few law enforcement problems have arisen relating to licensed industrial hemp cultivation, which began in 1993. This contradicts the oft repeated statements by American law enforcement officers and politicians who claim that hemp cultivation will create numerous problems. (see Sgt. Edward Moses' statement in the "Quotes of Note" section). The UK is dealing with this issue with straightforward regulations that substantially reduce the chance of problems. For instance, British hemp farmers must plant their crops in areas where there is limited public access. Screening crops, or other security measures, may also be required, and only European Union approved hemp seed (< 0.3% THC) may be planted. Drugs Inspector, Miss Wendy Nevill, noted that "In 1996, when some 4,000 acres were grown here under license, there was only one incident where large-scale theft took place. The offenders were arrested before the hemp reached the illicit market." It is therefore apparent that hemp could be grown in America with a minimal amount of interference from the government. [Contact: Miss Nevill at the Home Office South East Region Drugs Inspectorate, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London, SW1H 9AT (phone: 0171 273 3530)]


Reuters reported on June 11, 1997, that "Hemp" soda was now being imported to England from Germany by Shackleford Sales Ltd. Hemp soda, which is being sold at the Selfridges department store in London, is being marketed as a premium energy soft drink with a nutty flavor. The citrus soda contains hemp oil, caffeine, and vitamins, but no THC, as confirmed by Britain's Home Office Drugs Branch. Hemp soda had previously been introduced in Germany by Designer Food International.


An April 24, 1997 press release from the Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Resources stated that "legislation has been introduced into State Parliament to allow the commercial production of hemp in Victoria [Australia]". This legislative amendment will provide a regulatory framework for the commercial production of non-drug varieties of industrial hemp. Successful trials using hemp with a 0.35% THC content were completed at thirteen sites over the last two fiscal years. The press release went on to say that "applicants will be required to prove they intend to undertake bona fide research or commercial activity related to non-therapeutic use of cannabis and commercial production will also be limited to those who can demonstrate they have a market for the crop to be produced." Government inspectors will have the power to determine whether plants, crops, or products are being produced in accordance with the legislation. While there are currently no primary processing facilities in Australia, several organizations are researching new technologies. [Contact: Australian Hemp Resource & Manufacture, Carolyn Ditchfield, 61-736-95925, ahrm@hits.net.au]


The June 22, 1997 New York Times contained an article entitled "A Republican Campaigns for Hemp at a Rock Festival". In it, Andrew C. Revkin wrote about how Fred A. Maslack, a 38 year old conservative Republican State Representative from Vermont, promoted industrial hemp at the Hemp Splash festival in Odena, New York. While thousands of people enjoyed smoking marijuana at the weekend festival, Maslack kept busy discussing the environmental and economic impact that industrial hemp could have. He also said that the hemp movement is "a classic Republican issue. It's all about getting government out of the way so people can go out and make money." Maslack well knows that hemp could help his state's slumping farm industry, because it grows well on the rugged terrain that is common in Vermont. As such, he worked to get an industrial hemp bill passed in Vermont last year that allows for research into hemp's economic potential. (See "Hemp in Vermont" article in this issue for more information.)


The Hempest, Boston's premier hemp store, moved to a bigger and better location on July 3, 1997. The new store, which is 50% larger, is situated smack dab in the middle of Boston's most prestigious shopping district at 207 Newbury Street. Business has been steady as many well healed shoppers visit the Hempest each day. Please contact Jon Napoli at 617-421-9944 for information about selling your hemp products in Boston.


A July 17, 1997 e-mail to HIA members notified hempsters that Earth Goods USA, Inc. is going out of business. Headed up by Dave Edwards and Dave Stunda, Earth Goods produced naturally dyed hemp clothing and accessories. Their remaining inventory is being offered at liquidation prices. Items for sale include 100% hemp women's skirts ($15 and up), men's hemp shirts ($26 & $32), and hemp tote bags ($10). A final production run of hemp shirts are also being offered at discount prices. [Contacts: Dave Edwards & Dave Stunda, 206-621-0990, hemp@earthgoods.com]



The state of Kentucky's Justice Secretary, Dan Cherry, testified that "what we're talking about here today is the legalization of marijuana." Cherry also had this to say about conducting basic research at a Kentucky university: it's "a slippery slope heading toward the worst possible conclusion." [Interim Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources' testimony on industrial hemp; Lexington Herald-Leader, 7/10/97]

"I do know that it doesn't have the same level of THC as marijuana. But the thing is, it's still got THC in it which is illegal and is a mind-altering drug."
"There is no way that law enforcement [can] distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana. There is just no way industrial hemp can be regulated." [Audrey Yeager, Shelby County [Kentucky] Deputy Sheriff and DARE Instructor; CNN's Newsmagazine American Edge Explores "The Hemp Alternative", 6/4/97]

"This is not something I have done with pleasure and it is not a witch hunt." [Shelby County Schools Superintendent, Leon Mooneyhan, referring to his firing of Donna Cockrel; Lexington Herald-Leader, 7/16/97]

Sgt. Edward Moses, of the Missouri Highway Patrol, said his agency fears drug users will find ways to concentrate THC from industrial hemp or find ways to conceal pot plants among the fiber plants. Moses said Missouri's wild hemp has cash value as "filler" when dealers mix it with more potent marijuana to extend their profits. "Plus," he added, "the kids are getting the idea it's no big deal because it's being touted for fiber and food." [Kansas City Star, 4/27/97] (Ed's note; see above hemp line note about England's Home Office Drugs Branch opinion on this subject.)

"Growing hemp seems contrary to [the] general state policy of fighting illegal drug use." [Jim Haney, spokesman for Wisconsin Attorney General James Doyle; Capital Times/Wisconsin State Journal, 5/31/97]

"Sensitivity is such that the White House Drug Enforcement Office should be contacted before USDA staff attend meetings on industrial hemp, or get involved with research programs." [Department of Agriculture memo on the internet; Capital Times/Wisconsin State Journal, 5/31/97]

"Hemp production, once a thriving commodity, died out in the 1920's when the federal government banned it and its TOXIC cannabis cousin, marijuana." [Eric Bender, London (Canada) Free Press Business Reporter, 6/11/97]

"Unless the economic viability of industrial hemp production is evaluated by serious field trials and pilot scale processing in the United States, hemp fabrics and paper uses will likely remain a very small niche market satisfied by imports." [U.S. Department of Agriculture report; Capital Times/Wisconsin State Journal, 5/31/97] (Ed's note: Catch-22 anyone?)

"Nobody cares about the environmental uses of hemp. That's taking us back to the Stone Age. . . Whatever product you can make from hemp, DuPont will come out with a synthetic fiber to replace it." [DEA special agent, Abel Reynoso; Buzz Magazine, 3/97]