Skagit Valley Herald 
1000 E. College Way
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
email:  200 words Max.

PRINTED: Friday, March 7, 1997

Voices of the Valley
Writer says hemp does more good than bad   < (this was on the top of
the front page with the page # attatched.)

Hemp does more good than harm
By Allison Bigelow
Special to the Skagit Valley Herald
	Cannabis hemp was our planet's largest agricultural crop from about
1000 B.C. to 1883 A.D. Products made from hemp include paper, fuel,
building materials, lighting oil, clothing, ropes, carpet backing, food
from the nutritious hemp seed, varnish and paints, and plastic.
	Hemp grows well in most climates without chemicals. It would take 6
percent of U.S. land to provide all of America's energy needs with hemp.
Why fight wars for the right to send money out of our country to buy
expensive and polluting fossil fuels, when we could pay our farmers to
grow fuel that is less expensive and less polluting?
	Many mills will thrive as we make lumber from hemp fiber, which has
been tested at the University of Washington to be twice as strong as
lumber made from trees. Logging trucks can be used as pulphauling
trucks, bringing paper mills an abundance of pulp, since according to
the USDA, an acre of hemp produces 4.1 times the fiber as an acre of
forest over a 20year peroid. Making paper from hemp does not require
the sulfurbased acid chemicals that are needed to neutralize tree pulp
to make paper.
	Cannabis hemp was outlawed in the late 1930's, forcing us to turn to
petrochemicals, forests and fossil fuels, which create unacceptable
amounts of pollution.
	On Sept. 24, the Skagit Valley Herald printed a small article showing
that the Columbia River received more carcinogens than any other
waterway in the United States from 1990 to 1994. It went on to say that
"pulp and paper mills of Weyerhaeuser Co., Longview Fibre Co., Rayonier
Inc., ITT Rayonier Inc., Scott Paper Co., Boise Cascade Corp., and
GeorgiaPacific West Inc. were among the leading contributors that
pushed Washington state to the top."
	I can assure you that if we went back to hemp, we could turn around
this mess and stimulate employment without having to give up the
comforts that we have come to enjoy.
	Why don't we do this? People backing hemp are labeled as drug
legalizers by the Drug Enforcement Agency, much like backers of the
medicinal use of marijuana. Former drug czar Lee Brown went as far as to
say that Adidas was sending the wrong message to children if it named
it's earthfriendly shoe "The Hemp." The kids know that you can't smoke
industrial hemp. It's the adults who are confused, thinking that anyone
wearing hemp is promarijuana.
	Every time we get close to getting industrial hemp legislation passed,
a closeddoor meeting with the DEA causes the bill to fail. This has led
me to question the prohibition of marijuana and whether marijuana is as
damaging as the loss of life due to carcinogenic pollutants.	
	What I found surprised me. I found that in 1988 the DEA's
administrative law judge, Francis Young, after hearing medical testimony
for 15 days and reviewing hundreds of DEA/NIDA documents, concluded that
"marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known
to man."
	The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
found, in a survey released in September, that teenagers ranked
cigarettes and marijuana as much easier to buy than beer. While 42
percent of 17yearolds said that marijuana was easiest to buy, only 9
percent thought beer was easiest to buy. That is because our government
regulates who can buy alcohol. Not so with marijuana.
	I am suggesting government regulation of drugs, truthful education and
treatment. For example, educational campains have been successful in
curbing tobacco use.
	BurlingtonEdison High School is requiring drug testing for all
extracurricularactivity students. They do not test for alcohol and
cocaine. Those drugs do not stay in the urine for long.
	According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), alcoholism is the
leading cause of teenage deaths. They also say that 8,000 American
teenagers are killed each year and 40,000 are maimed from mixing
alcohol and driving. We all want students to "just say no" to drugs,
including alcohol, but this is unrealistic. Most adults remember at
least one time that they experimented with either alcohol or drugs as
	It seems to me that urinalysis is the real gateway to dangerous drugs.
My friend, a nuclear plant employee, has told me that all of the
employees who formerly used marijuana have switched to cocaine to pass
the urinalysis.
	Dangerous criminals are released from jail to make room for drug
offenders. A Justice Department report released in early February
revealed that 134,300 violent sex criminals were released on parole or
probation in 1994. According to their figures, the average rapist serves
only 5.2 years in jail, and the average murderer serves only 8.6 years.
By contrast, many Americans are serving mandatory minimum sentences of
20 to 25 years for possession or sale of marijuana at the cost of
$40,000 per prisoner each year.
	This can be turned around. Love and compassion need to be included for
a saner drug policy. The only reason to continue this madness is for the
profit of some at the expense of us all. I truly believe this.
Bigelow is the owner of Washington Hemp Mercantile in Mount Vernon. She
lives with her husband and two daughters in Burlington.