Hemp is a useful material with a rich history. It can be used for clothing, for food (high in protein and omega-3), and bio-fuels among other things. It CANNOT be ingested to get you high. So why is it essentially illegal to grow? It has a close association with Marijuana. It is, technically, a marijuana plant. However, since other countries can grow industrial hemp legally, why can't we?
Currently, we import millions of pounds of hemp into the United States. How much money can we save if we grew it ourselves? A lot. In fact when googling hemp us import the first result is a USDA report from late '99. The first sentence of the second paragraph is extremely telling. "Imports of raw hemp fiber have increased dramatically in the last few years, rising from less than 500 pounds in 1994 to over 1.5 million pounds for the first 9 months of 1999 (table 1)."
I do not have current import numbers unfortunately, but I can only assume that they have followed the trend.
As mentioned earlier it is essentially illegal to grow hemp in the U.S. It isn't really illegal, but it might as well be. You need special permits from the DEA which are very expensive and that alone makes it nearly impossible for anyone to grow hemp at a profit. Is there any way Washington state could look into superseding the DEA? As long as there are people regulating the hemp and making sure THC levels are near 0% there should be no problems.
If you are interested to learn about the history of hemp I have included some information below. If not you can stop here.
Quick history lesson. In colonial times people were asked to grow hemp on their properties. George Washington grew hemp. The sails and rope of the ships that first landed here were made out of hemp.
We threw it all away because of a smear campaign by DuPont (google DuPont and Hemp).
Interestingly, our government decided we should grow hemp again during WWII due to material shortages which prompted the video "Hemp for Victory" -- Which is on youtube.
After WWII our troops burned all hemp fields.
That's all. Knowledge is power.