2011-08-22 "Debate over hemp farming project elicits laughs" by Marisa Lagos and Wyatt Buchanan from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
A debate over a pilot project that would let some California farmers grow industrial hemp got laughs Wednesday when Democratic lawmakers sparred with a police lobbyist.
The bill by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would allow hemp farming in Imperial, Kern, Kings and San Joaquin counties for products like paper, clothing, canvas, rope and food. Kings and Kern county sheriffs support the measure, but other law enforcement groups aren't so enamored. They say it's difficult to distinguish between marijuana and hemp plants.
"You cannot visually tell the difference," said John Lovell, a lobbyist for the California Narcotics Officers' Association and Police Chiefs Association. "It means in every major trafficking prosecution, defense counsel will begin with the argument, 'This is not marijuana, it's hemp - prove it.' "
Democrats weren't buying the argument.
"Anyone with the gift of sight can tell the difference between hemp and marijuana," Leno said to laughter before launching into a description of how hemp plants are tall and skinny and planted close together, and "as we all know" marijuana plants are much more stocky and dense and planted at least 4-feet apart.
The measure passed out of committee without a problem.