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Most consumers know that industrial hemp is not the same as marijuana

By Hempology | December 13, 2007

The Daily Star, NY
01 Dec 2007
Tom Grace


NORWICH – There’s something new for sale in Norwich.

Since mid-November, Solstice Whole Foods & Herbs on South Broad Street has been selling clothing made of hemp, a crop that cannot legally be grown in the United States because it is related to marijuana.

“It’s been getting a lot of attention, and we’re selling quite a bit of it,” Barbara Collins, the store’s co-owner, said Thursday.

People like the material’s feel and the style of clothes made by Ecolutions, Hemp Sisters and EarthCreations, she said.

When Collins and her business partner, Jane Swingle, introduced hemp clothing to the store, they were already carrying hemp oil and soaps such as Dr.  Bronner’s that contain hemp.

But now, with a hemp sign on the storefront, and a dressing room in the back, the focus at Solstice has shifted to hemp clothes. 

“A lot of our customers are pretty sophisticated, and they know that industrial hemp is not the same as marijuana,” Collins said.

But others have been surprised that clothing made from hemp is available locally.

“I did have someone walk in and ask, A Is it really legal to sell that?’” she said.

Collins said the sale of hemp-based fashions is legal although the federal government has made it illegal to grow the crop.

“Even when the politicians know the facts, they’re afraid to touch the issue because they’re afraid someone will say they’re in favor of marijuana,” she said.

In addition to hemp clothes, Solstice carries literature about the crop, touting it as “hip, hot and happening.”

In one piece, published by”>, the absence of psychoactive qualities in industrial hemp is underscored.

“In fact, industrial hemp and marijuana are different breeds of Cannabis sativa, just as Chihuahuas and St.  Bernards are different breeds of Canis familiaris.  Smoking large amounts of hemp flowers can produce a headache, but not a high,” the pamphlet states.

That’s because THC, the chief intoxicant in marijuana, is present only in minute amounts in industrial hemp, the pamphlet goes on to say, an observation echoed by the North American Industrial Hemp Council.

Collins said hemp has many benefits.  As food, it’s high in the nutritional fatty acids Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9.

It’s easy to grow, good for the soil, and in its many uses, it could replace wood fiber and other materials, she said.

“It would be really good if our local farmers could grow it here,” she said.

Until the mid-20th century, hemp was legal to grow, and 200 years before that, George Washington grew it on his plantation.

Still, the substance is lumped together with marijuana by some people, if half in jest, according to Carol Sacks of New Berlin.

“I wore a new hemp sweater to work the other day.  Some of my co-workers were admiring it although one asked if she could cut up the sleeves to smoke them,” she said.  “Of course, she was only joking.”

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