Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Television star Tim Gunn wants to legalize industrial hemp in Massachusetts

By Gintautas Dumcius

Tim Gunn Promotes Hemp Legalization In Massachusetts

Television star Tim Gunn was at the Mass. State House to help push a bill legalizing the growth and production of hemp in Massachusetts.
Some Massachusetts lawmakers are hoping to legalize the growth and production of industrial hemp in the Bay State, saying it'll be an economic boon to a region of the state with high unemployment.
While they've displayed reluctance to approach legalizing marijuana for recreational use as an independent group has a question on track for the November ballot to do just that, hemp is another matter that has some legislators' support.
Lawmakers argue that hemp is a whole other crop, too. On Tuesday they hosted television star Tim Gunn in an effort to push for a bill (H 773) that would "establish policy and procedures for growing industrial hemp" in order to help the state's agricultural industry.
The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Chris Walsh, D-Framingham.
Supporters of the Massachusetts bill say Fall River was once a leading supplier of hemp rope before hemp production was banned at the federal level.
"We're intent on getting this back and getting it back to Massachusetts," said Gunn, who has appeared on "Project Runway" and "How I Met Your Mother."
Gunn said his interest in textiles drew him to industrial hemp, which aside from some "marginal threads of connective tissue" has "nothing to do with marijuana." A person cannot get high from smoking hemp, he said.
"Please do your Google research and you'll be as inspired as I am," he said. "We could so easily harvest this and make it real."
Kathryn Hilderbrand, founder and CEO of the Good Clothing Company in Mashpee, said she wants to "bring my industry back" and start producing hemp-based at a textile mill.
Hilderbrand, whose company has imported hemp textiles, which is allowed, said the hemp crop doesn't damage the land, and it cannot be grown in the same field as marijuana.
Hemp-based products are also biodegradable, she added.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is behind the potential November ballot question legalizing marijuana, and the proposal has a provision legalizing industrial hemp.
Hilderbrand, who said Gunn is a friend she asked to join her at the State House to help push the industrial hemp bill, argued hemp and marijuana shouldn't be bundled together. "They're entirely independent," she said, while acknowledging a "tiny little relation" between the two.
State Rep. Alan Silvia, D-Fall River, said he backs the industrial hemp bill because his area has a 9 percent unemployment rate, almost double the statewide rate.
"This is a crop that we need to grow in Massachusetts," Walsh, the bill sponsor, said at a gathering that included Gunn and lawmakers like state Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport and state Reps. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset; Denise Provost, D-Somerville; Alan Silvia, D-Fall River; Jennifer Benson, D-Lunenberg; and Paul Schmid, D-Westport.
"If only Capitol Hill looked as good as this room," Gunn quipped before the event wrapped up, and lawmakers and their aides formed a line out the door to pose for pictures with him.

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