Local farmer Will Allen got together with some of his friends last Tuesday to dig up a little earth and plant some seeds. As they expected, they were all promptly arrested. Why? Well, the seeds they were sowing were hemp, and the place they were planting them was the front lawn of the DEA in Washington.
Allen, along with David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, and five others, were protesting the restriction on growing industrial hemp within the US. Their argument goes something like this: hemp is not marijuana and it won’t get you high. Hemp has a variety of industrial uses, and its prohibition means American farmers are losing millions of dollars to other countries that permit the cultivation of hemp, like China and Canada.
Now that the Justice Department has signaled its intent to cease prosecuting medical marijuana users who comply with state law, the time has come to re-examine the wrong-headed ban on weed’s non-psychoactive cousin.
Fresh from the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) annual convention last weekend in Washington, DC, a pair of real life farmers who want to be hemp farmers joined with hemp industry figures and spokesmen to travel across the Potomac River to DEA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, where, in an act of civil disobedience, they took shovels to the lawn and planted hemp seeds. Within a few minutes, they were arrested and charged with trespassing.
Hoping to focus the attention of the Obama administration on halting DEA interference, North Dakota farmer Wayne Hauge, Vermont farmer Will Allen, HIA President Steve Levine, hemp-based soap producer and Vote Hemp director David Bronner, Vote Hemp communications director Adam Eidinger, and hemp clothing company owner Isaac Nichelson were arrested in the action as another dozen or so supporters and puzzled DEA employees looked on.
“Who has a permit?” demanded a DEA security official. “A permit — that’s what we want from the DEA,” Bronner responded.