by Kit O'Connell
Three members of Congress recently requested that the United States Botanic Gardens grow hemp plants.
Signed by three Democratic members of Congress, the letter is a sign of the growing acceptance of hemp among mainstream circles. Representatives Barbara Lee (California) and Earl Blumenauer (Oregon), along with DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton jointly signed the letter to the U.S. Botanic Gardens, which they issued on April 26, 2021.
The authors note that almost every state, and dozens of Native American tribes, now grow hemp. In 2021, as many as 500,000 acres of hemp could be grown in the U.S.
“Hemp is a rapidly growing commodity, has numerous value chains and is used in the food, health and wellness, cosmetic, construction, automotive and traditional industrial sectors, to name a few,” they wrote.
Hemp at U.S. Botanic Gardens would be historic move
As noted by the letter’s signers, this could be the first time that any form of the cannabis plant would be displayed in the U.S. Botanic Gardens. They go on to define the difference between hemp and cannabis, based on U.S. law.
The 2018 Farm Act, which fully legalized hemp in the U.S. after decades of prohibition, defines hemp as a form of the cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC. THC is the compound in cannabis which makes people “feel high.” All the products on Anavii Market, and widely sold throughout the country in stores, are derived from federally-legal hemp plants.
Most hemp in the U.S. is used to make CBD, the popular wellness product. As a result, the Congressmembers suggested that the Botanic Gardens should include hemp in their collection of medicinal plants. As noted in the letter, other uses of hemp, such as for fiber or hemp protein, are quickly growing in popularity.
Hemp and George Washington’s vision
“Hemp has a long history of cultivation in the U.S,” noted the letter writers. “Hemp was grown by most of the Founders, and in 2018, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate harvested its first hemp crop since 1799.”
Called a “living plant museum,” the U.S. Botanic Gardens is the oldest continuously operating garden in the United States. It was first established by U.S. Congress in 1820, based on George Washington’s vision for the nation’s capital. Since Washington was himself a hemp grower, it only seems appropriate for hemp to grow in the U.S. Botanic Gardens he inspired.
Hemp returned to Mount Vernon in 2018, during the lead up to Federal legalization. Prior to the 2018 Farm Act, some individual states had legalized the crop for “research purposes.”
At the time, Dean Norton, the director of horticulture for the estate, told NPR, "To bring this crop back it just really helps complete our agricultural story.”
Hemp on pause: Awaiting a reply from the U.S. Botanic Gardens
Bringing hemp to the U.S. Botanic Gardens would be another way to show the plant’s historic significance, as well as its modern versatility.
According to the original letter, the Congress members gave Dr. Saharah Moon Chapotin, the current director of the U.S. Botanic Gardens, until May 4, 2021 to make a formal reply. We haven’t found any evidence yet of their decision, but we’ll update this article when we hear more.
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