A flag made out of a substance that’s illegal to grow in the United States will fly above the nation’s Capitol building on July 4, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The Stars and Stripes will be stitched out of hemp fibers, which come from a plant that the federal government considers to be as harmful as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. As far as the Drug Enforcement Administration is concerned, marijuana plants all fall on the Schedule I list of controlled substances, regardless of their concentration of the psychoactive compound THC. Hemp strains contain very little THC, and while it is legal to import the processed fabric, there are stiff penalties in place for its cultivation.
Congressional lawmakers sought to change that earlier this year, however, with legislation that would have legalized hemp for research purposes. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) was a key proponent of this measure, which was tripped up last month by the House’s failure to pass the farm bill to which it was attached. He also reportedly played a key role in getting hemp up the Capitol’s flag pole.
According to the Post, Colorado hemp advocate Michael Bowman gave the flag — made with Colorado-grown hemp — to Polis, who worked out the details with the Capitol’s flag office. Colorado has legalized hemp production, along with eight other states. While federal law still prohibits its cultivation, some enterprising and daring individuals have already started farming hemp.
Bowman told the Post that the display was a “a powerful symbol,” steeped in American history. Many historians believe that the first American flag, sewn by Betsy Ross in 1776, was made of hemp.