Hemp Protest at DEA Leads to Arrests

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hemp is not only an environmentally friendly business, but it's also a lucrative one; the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) estimates the 2008 annual retail sales of all hemp products in North America to be about $360 million. In fact, the US has the largest market for hemp products in the world. But because of federal regulations that restrict the industrial production of hemp, the US is forced to import the material used to make everything from milk to clothes. That leaves US farmers unable to cultivate a crop that could be bringing them a significant cash flow.

In an attempt to protest the Drug Enforcement Administration's blockade of state industrial hemp programs, farmers and hemp industry leaders gathered at the DEA headquarters in Virginia to perform an act of public civil disobedience: planting industrial hemp seeds in the DEA's lawn. For their actions, North Dakota Farmer Wayne Hauge; Founder of Cedar Circle Organic Farm in Vermont Will Allen; Hemp Industries Association (HIA) President Steve Levine; Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps President David Bronner; Vote Hemp Communications Director Adam Eidinger and Founder of Livity Outernational Hemp Clothing, Issac Nichelson were all arrested.

They are expected to be released later this afternoon and will be available for interviews upon release. The six protesters planted hemp seeds with ceremonial chrome shovels engraved with: "Hemp Planting Oct. 2009 ~ DEA Headquarters ~ American Farmers Shall Grow Hemp Again, Reefer Madness Will Be Buried."

In the eyes of farmers and members of the hemp industry, legalizing industrial hemp production is not only a question of economics, but national interest. "In recent years there has been strong growth in demand for hemp in the U.S., but the American farmer is being left out while Canadian, European and Chinese farmers fill the void created by outdated federal policy," said fourth-generation farmer Hauge.

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Cross-posted from Wend Magazine