Trying to get a straight answer about why hemp is illegal to farm in the United States has long been a futile task, but still Scott Morgan of The Huffington Post has made the effort to contact the U.S. Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske, in an attempt to clarify the government’s stance. What Morgan got in return was a lot of waiting and, ultimately, proof that even the nation’s highest drug authority has no idea what he is talking about.

According to Morgan, the following response was received in reply to an online petition and apparently took seven months to draft:

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OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE TO Allow Industrial Hemp to be Grown in the U.S. Once Again
What We Have to Say About Marijuana and Hemp Production
By Gil Kerlikowske

America’s farmers deserve our Nation’s help and support to ensure rural America’s prosperity and vitality. Federal law prohibits human consumption, distribution, and possession of Schedule I controlled substances. Hemp and marijuana are part of the same species of cannabis plant. While most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all parts of the plant, including hemp, can contain THC, a Schedule I controlled substance. The Administration will continue looking for innovative ways to support farmers across the country while balancing the need to protect public health and safety.

As Morgan points out in The Huffington Post, the response is offensive (and just plain wrong) in a number of ways. Morgan begins by pointing out how the response immediately misdirects about hemp by pointing out some irrelevant information about marijuana:

The drug czar oddly begins by declaring that, “federal law prohibits human consumption, distribution, and possession of Schedule I controlled substances,” which is simply irrelevant in the context of hemp. Hemp isn’t a Schedule I controlled substance and it can legally be consumed, distributed and possessed in a variety of forms. The soap I use every day is made of it, and you can buy hemp foods at any grocery store without fear of arrest. The drug czar’s failure to even acknowledge this basic fact makes his statement terribly confusing in its entirety…

But, the statement’s biggest error comes in the statement that “while most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all parts of the plant, including hemp, can contain THC, a Schedule I controlled substance.” This, simply, makes it seem that hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, when they are two types of a kind of plant, and, though similar, they are not the same. This seems to be the central argument of the Drug Czar, and it is flat-out wrong.

Now, the issue is what to do with this information. As Morgan points out, this response comes under the president’s policy to respond to certain issues if they get a certain number of complaints, but what happens when the response points out ignorance? Is another petition necessary to make the government address the false facts in their previous statement?

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It is clear that the government is confusing hemp with marijuana and if we are enforcing laws based on a false understanding, these laws should be reexamined.

Can you believe that the Drug Czar doesn’t know the difference between hemp and marijuana?