Imagine you have to take a long trip and somebody offers you detailed directions, but they will only get you halfway there.  Wouldn’t you accept the partial road map?

Most people would. After all, having some solid idea of how to get to your destination beats having no clue at all.

But when it comes to blazing a trail to freedom, it seems many would rather toss away anything that doesn’t get them all the way to the ideal. They question, or outright oppose, any half-measure.

Take this commenter on an article reporting a bill that would legalize hemp farming in Tennessee that was recently passed out of the House.  The legislation contains language that would require the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to license and oversee industrial hemp farming, despite a federal prohibition.

The department of agriculture shall oversee and annually license any grower who wishes to produce industrial hemp.

Our commenter expresses displeasure at the notion of state licensing and regulation.

Sounds to me, that the State, by using the word ‘shall,’ has made it so that the STATE OF TENESSEE (sic), the corporately owned ‘government,’ will be the only one to say whether or not someone can grow hemp……………..Hmm? Cui bono?

Of course, the commenter is correct. Under the proposed law, the state alone would license hemp production. This person likely believes government should not interfere with hemp farming at any level – state, local or federal.  And we agree in principle.  But as it stands now, both the state of Tennessee and the feds prohibit hemp farming. If the bill passes the Senate, and the governor signs it into law, it will remove state level prohibition.

So the question our commenter should ask is this: will the law result in more freedom?

Clearly, it will. The ability to do something trumps an outright prohibition on the activity, even if regulated. And from a practical standpoint, the law will pave the way for hemp production in Tennessee. That constitutes a big win for farmers in the Volunteer State.

We know for a fact that a hemp industry won’t spontaneously develop absent some state measure allowing it. If that was going to happen, it already would have.

It has not.

The one state in the U.S. currently home to what is likely to become widespread hemp farming is Colorado. The Centennial State lifted its prohibition on hemp farming in November 2012. Some two-dozen farmers harvest a hemp crop in October of last year. Even with state regulation and licensing in Colorado, we see hemp production, but not in any state with a ban. So, the state laws lead to a net gain in freedom. Despite the licensing requirements and regulation, hemp gets produced. Without the state law, it doesn’t.

When the state legitimizes an activity with a law, it emboldens people in that state to move forward and defy the federal prohibition.When both the feds and the state prohibit an activity you get – nothing. Without a state law to provide some modicum of legal cover, you only find a small handful of people willing to engage in the prohibited activity, those who embrace natural rights, and who have the fortitude to defy local, state and federal ‘authority.’ With a legal state system in place, the door opens for many more people to engage in the activity. It removes two layers of prohibition and creates a more fertile environment for the activity to take root.

So, while our commenter clearly has good intentions and wants to advance freedom, his position fail to move the ball forward one iota. By opposing state legislation legalizing hemp farming, with its necessary evil of state licensing and regulation, our intrepid freedom warrior embraces a strategy that would virtually ensure no hemp farming.

Many people get so wrapped up in their philosophical ideal that they lose sight of the fact that in order to achieve victory they need a workable strategy. Sometimes that means taking steps that move us closer to the ideal, even though they fail to go the entire distance.

When you boil it all down, we have two choices.

  1. Get the state involved and open the door to hemp farming.
  2. Nothing.

Number one seems like a far better option, doesn’t it?

Mike Maharrey

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