The 2012 election campaign is in full swing and President Obama's campaign is hard at work raising money to fund his reelection effort. The campaign even has an online store featuring a wide variety of items for sale. One of the items offered is a beautiful hemp and organic cotton scarf made by fashion designer Monique Péan.
The scarf is listed as "made in the USA." What the Obama store doesn't tell you is that the scarf is made from imported hemp blend fabric made in China. Unfortunately the Obama administration has confused non-drug industrial hemp with marijuana and blocked American farmers from growing the crop. This outrageous policy has forced American companies to import hemp textiles, auto parts, building materials, nutritious foods and more from overseas increasing our trade deficit and offshoring farming and manufacturing jobs.
The world's largest market for hemp products is the United States with retail sales estimated to be $419 million in 2010 and growing annually at around 10 percent. All of these hemp products must be imported from the dozens of countries that allow hemp farming. Chinese farmers are growing 150,000 acres of hemp and planning to expand to more than a million acres due to demand. Farmers in Canada report turning a solid profit on their hemp crops and are expanding their hemp acreage. European farmers are selling their hemp fiber for use by Ford, Daimler Chrysler and BMW for door panels and interior parts.
American farmers want to grow hemp too and 10 states have removed barriers to its production or research. The National Farmers Union has passed a resolution asking for a policy change. State governments have tried to work with the Obama administration to implement their state hemp farming laws but they refused to even meet. President Obama's drug czar recently rejected an industrial hemp petition signed by 28,000 supporters and justified the response by conflating hemp and marijuana.
How is it that President Obama can sell hemp in his campaign store but doesn't get that importing it from China makes no sense? Our founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their farms and promoted its benefits. Banning hemp farming is sending jobs overseas and increasing our trade deficit. It's past time for some common sense policy on industrial hemp from President Obama.