Lithuania on Thursday legalized growing hemp as of January for the industrial-scale production of textiles, making it the last of the EU's 27 members to give it the green light.
Although hemp is not marijuana, its resemblance to its high-inducing
cannabis cousin has kept the plant banned in the United States and
elsewhere for decades despite its many uses for textiles, food,
cosmetics and other purposes.
Lawmakers in Vilnius voted 66 in favor to 16 against, while 22 abstained.
"Lithuania was the last remaining European Union country to ban the
cultivation of industrial hemp. Our law on psychoactive substances
prevented the cultivation of all kinds of cannabis," agriculture
ministry spokeswoman Virginija Vingriene told AFP Thursday, adding that
the concentration of psychoactive THC in industrial hemp is negligible.
Petras Cimbaras, the Labor party member of parliament who tabled the
hemp law, insisted Thursday that growing it "presents huge
opportunities" that some Lithuanian farmers have already decided to
Last year, farmers pointed to EU laws allowing its cultivation to
plant around 130 hectares of hemp, Cimbaras said. A hearty plant, it
grows well in poor soils and chokes out weeds, thus cutting the use of
herbicides, he added.
Green member of parliament Linas Balsys was among those who voted
against the measure, insisting "it would be better to promote the
cultivation of flax to produce linen", a strong, natural textile with a
long tradition in the Baltic state.