In anticipation of final passage of the new farm bill it may be a good time to have a frank discussion about marijuana.

Actually, not the type of conversation one might have with their kids about the dangers and pitfalls of marijuana use, but an honest discussion about certain provisions of new farm legislation that could pave the way for the return of legal hemp farming in America in the not-too-distant future.

While hemp and marijuana have for long been wrongly called the same substance, in reality, they are, and then again, they are not.

Are you confused?

Just a few decades back if a reporter called an agriculture agronomist for an interview and the topic turned to hemp production, in spite of what you might think, chances are good the plant scientist would have engaged the journalist in a fascinating conservation about a truly amazing plant that once played a major and important role in U.S. agriculture.

Farm bill means decisions for farmers.

While most Americans may think of hemp, or cannabis sativa, as being the popular plant that has long been grown in support of the illegal drug culture, the truth is hemp was a viable farm crop long before Congress declared it a Schedule 1 controlled substance in 1970.  Hemp and marijuana belong to the cannabis species; hemp has long been grown as an industrial crop, the other is most often associated with recreational drug use because of its psychoactive properties.

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Without getting technical, or (pardon the pun) to clear the smoke out of the air, marijuana has a varying but generally high content of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the substance that provides a user who absorbs it by eating or smoking the flowering buds of the plant to reach a state of relaxation that may also heighten the senses, creating a feeling of euphoria as THC causes dopamine to be released in the body. This is the “high” commonly associated with marijuana use.

Hemp, on the other hand, is a poor substitute for marijuana as a recreational drug because the THC content is minimal at best.