“The hemp issue bridged the gap between the late ‘80s and the explosion of interest in medical marijuana in 1996,” said Paul Armentano, speaking for himself and many other cannabis-centric political activists. Armentano was moderating a panel discussion on the state of the hemp movement/industry at the 41st annual meeting of the National Organization for the Reform of the Marijuana Laws, held in Los Angeles in early October.

Armentano, 40, a NORML deputy director, said it was Jack Herer’s book The Emperor Wears No Clothes that alerted him and countless other pot partisans to the suppressed uses of cannabis as food and fiber. “I thought hemp was going to be the game-changer,” he recalled. “And here we are talking about marijuana law reform, about legalization and taxing a legal cannabis market, about the therapeutic potential of marijuana… But what happened to the enthusiasm about hemp?”

‘Whatever Happened to Hemp?’ in O’Shaughnessy’s