Nationals smell jobs through hemp
It’s heartening to hear that the NSW National Party has thrown its support behind a local hemp manufacturer.
Bangalow based Hemp Foods Australia is spruiking the funding by NSW Trade and Investment of six new employees for a minimum of three months, which director Paul Benhaim says is ‘invaluable
in improving financial stability and credibility to move ahead and employ many more for longer.’
According to Benhaim, there is strong interest from Asia and North America and, ‘we’re confident we will become market leaders in the southern hemisphere with our specialised products.’
Presently the company produces hulled hemp seeds, oil and protein. But unlike the tinctures that reportedly provide relief from epilepsy, his products contain no THC. Instead, his company specialises in food-grade stuffs which contain omega-3, omega-6, omega-9 and essential fatty acids.
The catch? Hemp foods are not allowed to be sold as food in Australia and New Zealand (except for hemp oil in NZ). Buy this stuff locally and it has to be applied externally; however the federal government is looking into it.
Anyway, local Nationals MP Don Page says hemp foods are ‘a prime example of the NSW government’s success in helping regional businesses move forward and boost employment.’
‘Jobs are always a priority in NSW, especially in the bush, and this government is working hard with bright initiatives to provide them.’
Similarly, NSW deputy premier and Nationals leader Andrew Stoner was quoted in Benhaim’s press release as saying the performance of hemp foods ‘would hopefully be a story repeated over and over in NSW as the government’s incentives and strategies became established.’
So will we see the Nationals take the ball on this and promote jobs and industries that will take on big pharma, plastics, paper, cotton and fossil fuels? One could say this is certainly a good start.
And it’s not often the Nationals can be commended; let’s forget for now that appalling $2m rail study designed to rob this region of public transport, planning reforms that favour developers, or proposed legislation to sack councils and shift power to the state.
Oh, and also Mr Stoner’s refusal to support a mini-hydro business in his own electorate, as reported in The Echo a few weeks ago.
While Mr Page says jobs are a priority in NSW, his leader Mr Stoner failed to offer the same assistance to that industry. It could have possibly saved a Dorrigo business that offered renewable energy.
Legalise pot now
Last weekend’s MardiGrass festival proved once again that Nimbin is a truly progressive township.
It’s willing to hold on to its ideals despite society’s scorn, and that makes it a leader in any place and time.
Hemp should not only compete with the fuel, plastics, cotton and paper industries, but be allowed as a food. Currently Australia and New Zealand are the only countries that don’t allow this, according to local hemp-fibre advocate Paul Benhaim.
He says the Australian governing body that decides the fate of foodstuffs, FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand), will submit its final report in December on hemp seed to the ministerial COAG committee. More on this can be found at www.hempfoods.com.au.
Through long-term strategic PR campaigns, the mainstream has been led to believe that pot is a gateway drug. It’s not; it’s more of a drive-through drug that leads to french fries and sugar-coated doughnuts.
There are no recorded deaths from dope smoking, though hydroponic pot is well known to be a shitty synthesis of what is a naturally occurring psychoactive element. Marijuana grown under lights with chemicals can potentially cause a higher level of psychosis and hospitals unfortunately have to cope with ‘hydro’ wards. The recent hydroponic bust in Ewingsdale has the full support of The Echo. Hydro dope is dangerous, is costly to our health system and has no benefit whatsoever.
US publication The Lowdown (www.hightowerlowdown.org) examines such topics and provides a much-needed alternative perspective to the US corporate/political agenda.
Every month, the publication examines a different subject in detail; in November 2009 it was the war on drugs. It reads in part, ‘In 1914, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst mounted a yellow- journalism crusade to demonise the entire genus of cannabis plants. Why? To sell newspapers, of course, but also because he was heavily invested in wood-pulp newsprint, and he wanted to shut down competition from paper made from hemp – a species of cannabis that is a distant cousin to marijuana but produces no high.’
The Lowdown says US president FDR signed federal prohibition laws on August 2, 1937 which remain in effect today. The article adds, ‘It’s not widely publicised by the US agriculture department, but marijuana is America’s largest cash crop – topping the value of corn and wheat combined. A 2005 analysis by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron found that legalisation would generate $7.7 billion a year in enforcement savings for local, state, and federal taxpayers, while producing annual tax revenues of $6.2 billion.’
Not many Australian politicians have the balls for this kind of reform.
Thankfully Texas native Jim Hightower from the The Lowdown will be talking about such issues with Kerry O’Brien at the Byron Community Centre on Wednesday May 16.