The DEA has refused countless advances to reconsider making a distinction between the subspecies of cannabis plants. Known to replace reasonable debate with scare tactics, they proclaim that marijuana could be grown covertly among a hemp field, or that it carries trace amounts (<0.3%) of THC, the mind-altering compound in marijuana.
For one, no serious grower is dumb enough to place the plants together: hemp cross-pollinates with marijuana and lowers its THC content dramatically, thus reducing the street value of the drug and one’s time spent selling weed. Not to mention most of the marijuana would be choked out by hemp’s sprawling canopy.
More and more people are demanding their public officials comply with the facts: Up to now, more than 15 states have redefined industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and removed barriers to its production. 2013 saw Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin harvest the first commercial American hemp crop in over 50 years, and 2014 holds promise after hemp research was permitted in this year's Farm Bill – state-legal plots were seeded in Colorado, Kentucky and Vermont. Approximately 30 countries in Europe, Asia, and North and South America currently permit their farmers to grow industrial hemp.
Some of these countries never outlawed production, while most of the others banned production for certain periods in the past when officials were still conflating hemp with marijuana. In 2011, global hemp production was approximately 200,000 acres.