(WASHINGTON) — Fireworks won’t be the only thing flying high over the Capitol during the Fourth of July celebration.
An American flag made of hemp, a non-psychoactive variant of marijuana, will be flown over the Capitol on July 4 for one day.
Industrial hemp – which is considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be a Schedule I substance along with ecstasy and heroin – is a type of cannabis plant that cannot legally be grown in the U.S. but is legally imported and used in hundreds of products ranging from rope to clothing.
Advocates say the plant has been unfairly demonized by drug regulators, even though it actually contains very little THC, the psychoactive chemical in its cousin plant, marijuana.
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. – who authored an amendment to the Farm Bill which passed the House and would allow industrial hemp research in states where it is legal – sponsored the hemp flag through the Capitol Flag Office, which allows members to request specific flags be flown over the Capitol building.
This will be the first time in more than 80 years that a flag made from hemp will fly over the Capitol, according to The Atlantic.
“Many of our founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew hemp,” Polis said. “Many of the very first American flags were made from hemp cloths. So there’s a real tie-in to our countries history and the important role industrial hemp played in agriculture in our country.”
The first American flag made by Betsy Ross was made from industrial hemp.
Colorado hemp-advocate Michael Bowman gave the flag to Polis as a prop to be used during Polis’ floor speech which then sparked his idea of flying it over the Capitol.
“I was on my way from the office building to the House gallery,” said Bowman. “I looked up and saw the flag flying over the Capitol, and I wondered, what if we put a hemp flag there?”
Per Capitol rules, flags flown over the building must be made in America.
Although growing hemp in the U.S is illegal under federal law, the hemp flag was grown in Colorado, which recently legalized the cultivation of the plant.
“It’s an important symbol, I think, to connect where we came from with regard to hemp and where we are going in the future,” said Bowman.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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