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October 11-18, 2006

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Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs


For centuries, we've had a long, healthy and mutually beneficial relationship to Cannabis sativa, a particularly multifaceted leafy green known as hemp. Humans cultivated, utilized and transported the plant from its native continent Asia all the way to Europe long before Christ was even born. Grown largely for its base fiber, found in the stem, hemp was, and still is, used to make cordage, paper, cloth, calking for ships and other products. Christ may have tried smoking it. George Washington grew a lot of it. Nowadays U.S. citizens spend quite a bit of money to transport hemp and hemp products from all over the world, to feed their birds with it, to make various varnishes out of hemp oil and to wear fashionable clothing. So what's the problem here? Nūz z doesn't see a problem here.

Recently in California, some other green leafy plants haven't been doing so hot. Almost 200 people in the states have gotten sick from funky spinach and green lettuce. Federal and state investigators have focused their e. coli search on 10 farms in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara counties, but because of an FDA advisory to abstain from spinach, all facets of California's bagged green industry have suffered and continue to suffer. The Produce Marketing Association estimated losses in California at between $37 million and $74 million, even if the E. coli crisis were only to last a month.

Meanwhile, according to hemp advocates, hemp products were responsible for $270 million in annual retail sales. Bill A.B. 1147, the California Industrial Hemp Farming act, would have relegalized the large-scale cultivation of plants with low levels of THC, so we could make a lot of hemp clothes legally, though smoking the clothes wouldn't do any good. Proponents of the bill claimed it would revolutionize California's agricultural industry. Nūz thinks Christ and George Washington would have been OK with this. Even Nūz 's mom would have been OK with this.

A week and a half ago, famed former pothead Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill. Tempting as it may be to argue that he's burned through too many brain cells to tell the difference between the plant he used to smoke and the one that, if legalized, could give our agriculture industry a much needed helping hand, it's more likely that, unlike his counterpart in hemp-friendly North Dakota, he's just too timid to take on the DEA, who definitely can't tell the difference. Nūz would call him a girlie man, but that, of course, would be an insult to females.

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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