Hemp Truths

Image March 20, 2013


Hemp Truths

The U.S. Constitution was written on this fiber, yet it’s illegal to grow it here.
by Cynthia Thielen | Mar 20, 2013
Mauka to Makai / When I offered samples from a bag of hemp-seed tortilla chips–purchased at Whole Foods–to my House colleagues recently, some of them recoiled, asking, “Is that legal?” Others asked, only half-joking, “Will it get me high?”

Not for stoners

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Hemp is not a drug. Unlike its fun-loving cousin marijuana, hard-working, utilitarian hemp contains only trace amounts of the psychoactive ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). They’re different varieties of the species Cannabis sativa L. Hemp’s tall stalks, sparse leaves and budless branches immediately distinguish it from short, bushy, bud-laden pakalolo.

ImageBut I can’t blame my fellow lawmakers for not understanding the difference between hemp and marijuana. This is the result of official U.S. drug policy, which equates and frowns upon both.

Nation-founding crop

“Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. For centuries, hemp was a major crop in Asia, Europe and then America. It was, and still is, used in rope, textiles, oils, medicine, bedding, building materials and food. Confucius and Lao Tsu wrote on hemp paper. The painters of the Renaissance plied their craft on hemp canvas (a word derived from cannabis).

Luckily for Americans, when it came to hemp, the colonists who fought off British tyranny weren’t as quavering and timid as some of our leaders today. As the colonists showed increasing disenchantment with the Crown, England forbade them to process the hemp they grew. They had to ship the raw materials to England, which exported the finished products back, thus keeping the colonists dependent.

In preparation for independence, the colonists defiantly started turning hemp into the necessary materials for war: paper, clothing, rope, sails. How fitting that the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution on hemp.

Growing prohibition

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 applied to hemp as well as marijuana, effectively killing U.S. hemp production until World War II. Then, American farmers were encouraged to grow hemp as part of the war effort. When the war ended, hemp cultivation dropped off again as plastics, nylon and other petroleum-based materials flourished.

In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act made it illegal to grow hemp, lumping it in with marijuana under the umbrella of cannabis prohibition.

Cannabis conundrum

Today, as a result, while it’s legal in the U.S. to purchase and own consumer items made with hemp, it’s illegal to grow the hemp itself. Fortunately, a growing bipartisan movement is addressing this. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky.) has joined forces with his state’s Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul and Oregon’s Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to co-sponsor a bill that would legalize hemp cultivation in the U.S.

This mirrors Hawaii’s own bipartisan effort, House Bill 154 HD2 SD1, introduced by Speaker Joseph Souki, Representative Derek Kawakami, Representative Sylvia Luke, Representative Angus McKelvey and myself. The bill passed its first Senate hearing last week.


Hemp’s use in thousands of consumer items is well known, but some of its practical applications were discovered more recently. “Hempcrete,” a blend of hemp and lime, has a natural ability to repel termites that makes it ideal for Hawaii home construction.

Hemp also appears to be an efficient feedstock for biofuel. Providing hemp to Hawaii’s existing biodiesel producers would further reduce our reliance on imported oil.

As demonstrated after Chernobyl, the hemp plant, with its fast growth cycle and deep root system, has an uncanny ability to cleanse the soil through phytoremediation, drawing toxins in through its roots and storing them its stalks and leaves.

This soil-cleansing characteristic and hemp’s use in biofuel are the focus of HB 154 HD2 SD1, which would authorize the state Board of Agriculture to establish an industrial hemp pilot program in Hawaii.

Let’s get beyond the irrational opposition to industrial hemp and put Hawaii at the front of this national effort, heeding the advice of George Washington: “Make the most of the Indian Hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!”

Cynthia Thielen represents the 50th District (Kailua, Kaneohe Bay) in the state House of Representatives.

Rep. Ward urges Jones Act reform

Gene Ward Official PictureRep. Gene Ward (R, Hawai‘i Kai-Kalama Valley) introduced a resolution (HCR150/HR119) calling on Congress to enact Jones Act reform legislation extending Guam’s U.S. build exemption for large oceangoing ships to Hawai‘i, Alaska and Puerto Rico.

“The resolution asks Congress for a limited exemption from the U.S. build requirement of the Jones Act for large oceangoing ships in the noncontiguous domestic trades of Hawai‘i, Alaska and Puerto Rico,” Ward said.

The exemption is modeled on the Guam Exemption and the Hawai‘i Cruise Trade exemption.  The historical Guam Exemption allows foreign-built vessels in the domestic Guam trade.

The Hawai‘i Cruise Trade Exemption was put in place in 2003 by the efforts of late U.S. Senator Daniel K Inouye.  With this exemption, Congress revitalized Hawai‘i’s cruise ship industry and boosted our tourist economy.

“This exemption from the U.S. built requirement will become very important in Governor Abercrombie’s plans to switch from petroleum based fuels to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for the purpose of electrical power generation,” Ward continued.

No U.S. shipyard has built LNG carriers since the 1970’s.  With the shutdown of Tesoro’s Hawai‘i refinery in April 2013 — Hawai‘iGas loses its supplier of naphtha feed stock for the production of synthetic natural gas (SNG). Hawai‘iGas SNG customers will soon depend on recently-approved shipments of LNG carried in 40-foot refrigerated tank containers.  LNG carriers are required if LNG is to fuel the much larger demands of electricity generation.

Changing air pollution rules are forcing Hawai‘i electric generators to switch to Natural gas.  Likewise, ship owners are beginning to power their vessels with LNG to meet new air pollution requirements requiring reduced emissions within 250 miles of shore.

This proposed exemption would not change the other requirements of the Jones Act for U.S.-flag, crew and ownership, would not apply to the tug and barge industry, nor cause a loss of any maritime jobs in Hawai‘i or the other noncontiguous jurisdictions.

The high cost of new Jones Act ships is the main cost driver in the noncontiguous trades and by allowing foreign built oceangoing ships operating under U.S.-flag into these trades we can substantially lower the shipowners’ capital costs and meaningfully increase competition that will assist all of the residents.  This exemption would also not affect Matson has some of its ship repairs done in Asia rather than U.S. ports.  This will not alter current ship repair operations.

“We are looking forward to the Legislatures of Alaska, Guam and Puerto Rico to join with us by passing complimentary resolutions supporting this important Jones Act exemption for all of us,” Ward concluded.

The House concurrent resolution can be found at the following link: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/Bills/HCR150_.HTM







View Point 1997 : http://archives.starbulletin.com/97/12/29/editorial/viewpointf.html

Hawai‘i Kai Residents to Speak Out on Thursday, March 21st Town Hall Meeting

Paste a Video URL

For the first time in recorded history, all elected officials in East Honolulu are calling upon the Hawai‘i Kai community to obtain their input on a very important land use issue. At stake is a five acre parcel across from Maunalua Bay becoming a strip mall to accommodate a Foodland grocery store. Heretofore, Rep. Ward’s polls have indicated that a majority of the community is against the proposed strip mall. However, Kamehameha Schools (Bishop Estate) had collected polar opposite numbers suggesting that the majority of people want the strip mall and the return of Foodland.
“It’s time to stop referring to opinion polls and go directly to the people of Hawai‘i Kai,” said Rep. Gene Ward (R, Hawai‘i Kai-Kalama Valley).
Particularly in light of recent controversial development proposals such as the PLDC, public officials are encouraging open community input to properly assess the issue.
What: Town hall meeting to gauge public opinion of the proposed strip mall

Who: Organized by Rep. Ward, and sponsored by Rep. Mark Hashem, Senators Sam Slom and Laura Thielen, Councilman Stanley Chang and the Hawai‘i Kai Neighborhood Board. Confirmed speakers include representatives of Kamehameha Schools and Foodland.

032113 - Great Lawn Townhall Meeting Flyer -Final_01 (2)


When: 7:00-8:30 p.m., Thursday, March 21, 2013

Where: Kamiloiki Elementary School Cafeteria, 7788 Hawaii Kai Drive, Honolulu

House of Representatives asks for study on effects of toxic pesticide

headshot dec 2011On March 14th, 19 Legislators in the State House of Representatives, including some in leadership, cosponsored HR100 and HCR129 calling for the State Director of Health to head a task force on the effects of atrazine on human health. Atrazine is a toxic, weed-killing pesticide used in Hawai‘i for decades in treating sugarcane, pineapple, and most recently seed corn.

The Atrazine Task Force is charged with reporting its findings, including any proposed legislation, to the State Legislature no later than October 31, 2013.  Legislation resulting from the task force’s recommendations will be considered during the 2014 Legislative Session.

Hawai‘i State Representative Cynthia Thielen, a co-introducer of HR100 and HCR129, said, “It is crucial that the state make every effort to protect our residents, our ‘aina, and our oceans from the potential adverse effects of chronic atrazine exposure. Historically in Hawai‘i, waiting to investigate pesticide or chemical exposure has resulted in needless tragedy and expensive cleanups. We need more information, and the time to do this is now.”

Research has indicated that atrazine exposure may be associated with reproductive problems in men, irregular menstrual cycles in women, and low birth weight and small head circumference in infants.  In laboratory mammals, abnormal reproductive system development, impaired prostate gland formation, and abnormal breast tissue development have also been found. Additionally, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reported that atrazine may have dangerous effects on fish.

Tests run by the Department of Health repeatedly have shown that Hawai‘i’s drinking water, particularly on the Big Island, is contaminated with low levels of atrazine. A report by the Soil/Water/Air Protection Enterprise indicates that Hawai‘i is ranked tenth among states for the percentage of its population exposed to atrazine in drinking water.

“I understand that the State Department of Agriculture does not test for atrazine because there is a shortage of inspectors. Companies using atrazine in Hawai‘i are policing themselves in regard to EPA application compliance. If we are not testing consistently, then how can we know that these companies are following the EPA prescribed protocols?  The fact that atrazine is banned in Europe due to groundwater contamination risks should be a red flag for all of us,” said Representative Thielen.

Atrazine has been under continued EPA evaluation and is scheduled for a registration review beginning this year.

Rep. Fale Recognizes Kahuku High School For Athletic Excellence

Hawaii House of Representatives to Honor Kahuku High School Teams for Exceptional Athletic and Academic Achievement
School produced state champion teams in varsity football and civic engagement

Two Kahuku High School teams will be recognized Monday for outstanding achievement. The 2012 Division I State Champion varsity football team earned a perfect 12-0 record and continues Kahuku’s strong football tradition of excellence. Additionally, the school’s “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” team won the state competition of the educational civic engagement program.

Six of the past eight NFL Super Bowls have featured a Kahuku High School graduate. The team is gaining a national reputation for producing standout college and National Football League (NFL) players.
“We the People” encourages critical thinking about civics by requiring students to submit essays and face a live panel of judges to test their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. The team will go on to represent Hawaii at the national finals in April in Washington, D.C.
What: House of Representatives floor presentation commending Kahuku High School State Champion teams for athletic and academic performances
Who: Offered by Rep. Richard Fale (District 47 — Waiahole, Ka’a’awa, Punalu’u, Hau’ula, Laie, Kahuku, Haleiwa, Waialua)

When: 12:00 noon, Monday, March 18, 2013 Where: Hawaii House of Representatives Chamber

standing caucus roomContact: repfale@capitol.hawaii.gov Excerpt from Capitol TV



Hawaii Reporter: http://www.hawaiireporter.com/honoring-kahuku-high-school-for-academic-and-athletic-excellence/123



Governor dismisses industry concerns over upholding hotel tax increase as “propaganda”

Governor Abercrombie today dismissed industry concerns that his proposal to repeal the sunset on the high transient accommodations tax rate would harm Hawaii’s tourism industry. The bill (SB 1194 SD2) failed to pass the House Committee on Tourism today.

In response to a legislator’s echoing of industry worries that the high tax rate is hurting business and the greater Hawaii economy, the governor interrupted by saying he has been hearing “the same propaganda.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“As soon as he received word that Hawaii’s economy was on its way to recovery, the governor acted to accelerate an agenda of increased spending and taxes,” said Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson. “It deeply concerns our caucus that the chief executive of our state shows this kind of insensitivity for our state’s private sector needs. We lawmakers should really be considering expert perspectives, not outright dismissing them.”

In addition to inundating the legislature with requests for new and higher taxes and fees this legislative session, Governor Abercrombie proposed higher spending on numerous government programs. In its budget passed last week, the House countered the governor’s request with a $600 million reduction, citing the need for a more conservative approach as the state’s economy recovers.

“As indicated by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, our visitor industry is a very volatile and sensitive one, and we need to nurture it rather than criticize it,” said Rep. Gene Ward, Minority Leader Emeritus and Vice Chair of the House Committee on Economic Development & Business. “For the benefit of all of Hawaii, we should take seriously all viewpoints, especially those of the largest sector of our local economy.”

The TAT rate was incrementally increased twice in 2009 and 2010 from 7.25 to 9.25 percent. The rate is set to revert to 7.25 percent on June 30, 2015 if the sunset is not repealed.

Reps. Mcdermott and Fale Address SB1135 – Recycling; Electric Devices

Report Title: Recycling; Electric Devices
Description: Amends and expands the Electronic Waste and Television Recycling Program. Effective July 1, 2050. (SB1135 HD1)

3/15/2013 H Passed Second Reading as amended in HD 1 and referred to the committee(s) on JUD with Representative(s) Fale voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) McDermott voting no (1) and Representative(s) Mizuno, Oshiro, Takai excused (3).
3/15/2013 H Bill scheduled to be heard by JUD on Tuesday, 03-19-13 2:00PM in House conference room 325.

Mcdermott and Fale chamberContact repfale@capitol.hawaii.gov or repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov Excerpt from Capitol TV