The Fairbanks City Council passed a resolution Monday “emphatically” urging the state to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp.
The resolution, introduced by Councilman Lloyd Hilling, also urges the state “to petition the president of the United States and his Drug Enforcement Administration either to justify constitutionally its ban on hemp or to nullify its restriction on its cultivation and distribution in the United States.
The cultivation of industrial hemp is illegal in the United States, even though its importation and use in products is not. Hemp fiber and oil can be used to make a variety of products such as textiles, plastics, paper products, animal bedding, rope, essential oils, medicines and food.
Industrial hemp and marijuana are closely related, but unlike marijuana, hemp does not contain enough tetrahydrocannabinol to be used as a recreational drug.
The resolution passed 4-1, with Councilman Bernard Gatewood casting the only no vote. Gatewood, who is the superintendent of the Fairbanks Youth Facility, said marijuana and hemp are too closely associated in people’s minds for him to feel comfortable voting yes on it.
“I can separate the two, and see the value of a hemp product. I want to support the resolution, but I’m struggling because I just can’t afford to be associated with the legalization of marijuana in any shape or form,” Gatewood said.
Councilman Jim Matherly said he supported the measure because of the research he had done into the topic, and because he feels that it could benefit the state and the country if hemp were legalized.
“I’m not saying legalize pot, I’m saying, let’s get hemp growing,” Matherly said.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Frank Turney, a long-time proponent of industrial hemp, displayed some of the many items that can be made from hemp and urged the council to vote yes on the resolution.
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