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Grow Hemp Colorado founder Veronica Carpio.EXPAND
Grow Hemp Colorado founder Veronica Carpio.
Courtesy of Veronica Carpio

Op Ed: Discrimination in Mitch McConnell's Hemp "De-Scheduling"

Minority communities that have been hit hardest by the failed War on Drugs will find it difficult to participate in the growing and thriving hemp industry, thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Recent federal Senate Farm Bill amendments made by McConnell included a "concession" to the Department of Justice in the hemp language that targeted a specific group of felons, specifically drug felons. In many states, a drug felony for cannabis equates to less than one ounce.

Hemp has over 50,000 uses, such as food, medicine, fiber, construction materials, animal food, cosmetics and beauty, in addition to many new jobs, tax revenues and new business opportunities.

Felons such as rapists, child molesters and murderers will be allowed to work in hemp; however, isolated, single groups of minorities that have been targeted and impacted by the discriminatory War on Drugs will not be allowed.

This amendment will force many African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic/Latinos and others who have a state or federal drug felony conviction to shut down existing hemp operations, and they will be unable to grow, process or own a hemp business in the future.

Example: A person who was convicted of a drug felony over 30 years ago, struggled to find work and housing, would be subject to future hardship by being prevented the opportunity to cultivate, process, be employed by and participate in legal, non-psychoactive, industrial hemp. Removing this language would provide thousands of minorities job opportunities, stability, and equal opportunity to start their own hemp business or hemp farm.

We denounce racism and discrimination in the cannabis (both hemp and marijuana) industries, and this new language needs to be challenged and removed. Within a booming, multi-million-dollar domestic hemp industry, many will be forced out, unable to benefit from a legitimate and legal business opportunity. The hemp industry itself promotes the farming of hemp as a solution to lifting people out of poverty.

McConnell's home state of Kentucky benefited and profited from generations of slavery, which included slaves tending hemp fields prior to prohibition.

It is critical that Congress remove this discriminatory language in the final version of the Federal Farm Bill. Please contact your House representative and senator today and demand this language be removed due to its discriminatory intent.

Grow Hemp Colorado is a hemp industry trade group founded by Veronica Carpio, who also owns Colorado Hemp Coffee. Carpio, a former dispensary owner in Colorado, was arrested for alleged illegal marijuana sales in 2011 and eventually pleaded guilty to a felony marijuana possession charge. You can contact Grow Hemp Colorado at info@growhempcolorado.com.

Westword occasionally runs opinion pieces on matters of interest to residents of metro Denver. Have one you'd like to share? Email editorial@westword.com.

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