Who are these guys?
Reminded of that again today under Montpeculiar's Golden Dome.
Just getting there was an adventure. Cloudy to Williston, then the snow started. One lane 30-35 mph from Richmond to Waterbury. Then it cleared. The frickin' sun came out and the joint, as they say, was hopping!
Surrounding Sgt. at Arms Francis Brooks in the Statehouse Lobby are students and relatives from the Chinese Military Academy in Kaoshiung, Taiwan. A Norwich connection. The gist I got was a few of ours study there for a year and a few of theirs do likewise, studying here at the first private military college in America.
News-wise, the House Agriculture Committee voted on the Hemp Bill, H.267.
Afterward I had a little Q&A with Committee Chairman David Zuckerman, the Progressive farmer from Big Bad Burlap [pictured doing his summertime Farmers-Market thing].
Q: What does the Hemp Bill do?
Zuckerman: The bill essentially outlines the process by which a farmer could grow hemp, get a license from the Agriculture Agency, pending approval by the federal government.
We took a lot of testimony to be clear about the differences. It is the same plant as cannabis sativa. However, hemp plants are .3% THC or less, and that’s clearly significantly lower levels than anything people would use for illicit drug use.
Q. North Dakota has also passed a law allowing this, but they haven’t issued licenses yet. They’re not growing hemp. The federal government says hemp is the same as pot. Any THC and it’s pot.
Zuckerman: Well, as of next January we’ll have a new federal government, a new president. Partly, this is just setting the stage so when that administration, or some future administration is ready to acknowledge these differences and the economic value of hemp, our state will be well-positioned to take advantage of that and help our farmers with another crop option!
Q: Certainly this will be reviewed by the Judiciary Committee. Is this going to pass?
Zuckerman: I think this has a strong chance of passage. I’ve gotten nods in the hallway from people of all political persuasions. Clearly the vote was 11-0 in my committee. That includes all three parties and an Independent. I think there’s broad understanding by people in this building that there really is a difference between hemp and marijuana.
The Judiciary Committee review is really on a couple technical matters. There will be a background check on a farmer to grow it and they just need to make sure that’s appropriate.
Q. Surprised it was a unanimous vote?
Zuckerman: No. As the testimony went on over the last week, we kept seeing more and more evidence of why this is a good crop economically, and why it could easily be distinguished from marijuana. So, people’s comfort levels rose.
Q. So, what does one do with hemp?
Zuckerman: The primary economic value at first for Vermont farmers would be the seeds: hemp oil and hemp meal and seeds for hemp food products.
The secondary product would be the fiber and the stalks which could either be burned in the power plants for renewable energy, or could be chipped and used as animal-bedding where dairy farms are having a hard time finding bedding.
In the long term, if we grew more and more of this in-state, we could end up with a hemp-fiber manufacturing plant.
You'll never guess who returned my Monday call today around noon.
Insists he's "seriously considering" something. However, he adamantly declines to put a time-limit on his period of "serious" consideration.
April Fool's Day?
Hey, it's a free country.