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Clinton flies high with hemp



Bill Clinton did not inhale. We're clear on that, right?

But, recently, he did swallow. It was on a return trip to Washington from Mexico City, where the president had traveled to proclaim that his international drug war is a tremendous success. Bill has a tough time with Mexico on this issue, PR-wise, since every time he goes to praise the progress being made there, one or more of their top anti-drug officials turn out to be involved in the drug trade themselves.

So who can blame Clinton for kicking back with a beer on the trip home from his latest song-and-dance in Mexico? It's a nerve-soothing beverage -- and hey, alcohol is a legal drug.

But hold your Clydesdales right there. The stewards on Air Force One didn't give the president a tall Bud ... but a Hemp Golden Beer! This brew, made in Kentucky, includes not only hops, barley and water -- but also hemp seed. The hemp plant is a cousin of the dreaded marijuana plant. Even though hemp itself is not a drug and cannot make you high, Clinton's drug czar Barry McCaffrey has been on an absolute tear against allowing American farmers to grow this profitable, highly useful and environmentally sensible crop. So U.S. businesses that use hemp to make paper, fuel, medicines, clothing, food and beer, among other things, have to import the hemp from China, Canada, Europe or other places that are not so paranoid.

Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, which markets several hemp-based skin-care products, heard about Clinton's beer experience. She wrote to him, saying "Congratulations on breaking the hemp barrier on Air Force One." She also said, "Don't go wobbly with misinformation," urging him to support a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana so farmers can begin to produce the hemp here.

There's no word from Bill on that, but don't expect him to have another hemp beer on Air Force One -- the office of National Drug Control Policy banned it from the plane, declaring it an "inappropriate" drink for the president.

Jim Hightower is an author, radio commentator, public speaker and political sparkplug from Austin, Texas. For more populist commentary, visit his website.

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