Russia mulls resumption of hemp growing

Sept. 28, 2011 at 12:13 PM

MOSCOW, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- A proposal to resume the cultivation of industrial hemp would cost Russia about $315 million, the head of the country's Federal Drug Control Service said.

Russia's State Anti-drug Committee is to decide whether to allow the planting of hemp as a source of oil, food, fibers, housing and industrial materials, which is currently prohibited in Russia, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

"We have already assessed the costs, they stand at approximately ten billion rubles ($135 million)," FDCS head Viktor Ivanov said.

The funds could be raised "without cutting other important [budget] expenditures," he said.

Russia, which was the world's leading producer of hemp until planting was outlawed in 1961, is currently one of the world's biggest importers of hemp fibers and oil.

Russia is estimated to have at least 2.5 million acres of illegal cannabis, planted mainly in the Far East and Black Sea regions.

A revival of planting of non-narcotic varieties of hemp for industrial usage would help "to create new jobs and reduce social tensions in the regions, which are abundant with illegal wild cannabis," the FDCS said.

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