Sept. 2, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Hemp Advocates Ask for ‘Beer Summit’ With Capitol Police

Hemp proponents are calling for a “beer summit” with the Capitol Police after they say officers confiscated their bags of hemp seeds and fiber earlier this week.Benjamin Droz, a legislative assistant for Vote Hemp, said he was headed to the Capitol on Monday when officers stopped him at a security point in the Rayburn tunnel and searched his bag.Inside were examples of the versatility of hemp: a hemp cinder block, hemp seeds, hemp hurds and hemp fiber. Questioning ensued, and soon several officers were gathered around discussing what to do with the items.According to Droz, the officers allowed him to keep the cinder block and the hemp hurds, which resemble wood chips. Officers decided immediately to confiscate the seeds, citing a no-food policy in the Capitol. But Droz said the two bags of fiber — a material that resembles cotton — were the sticking point.“I explained to them that it was just natural fiber,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “But I could tell by the look on their face that they thought it was something else.”Though hemp comes from the cannabis plant, it has no significant psychoactive properties and can be used in such products as paper, clothing and food. According to Droz, officers eventually gave him the choice of handing the fiber over to them or arguing his case with their sergeant. Droz, who said he was in a hurry, decided to leave it behind.Droz has continued to bring hemp products into Congressional buildings this week and hasn’t run into any trouble. Capitol Police officials declined to immediately comment.Now Vote Hemp officials say they want to meet with Capitol Police for a “beer summit.” But instead of discussing racial tension, as President Barack Obama did in his summit with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley, they want to talk hemp.“Whether there’s beer involved or not, I don’t know,” President Eric Steenstra said. “We’re looking to talk.”Casey Hynes contributed to this report.

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