WASHINGTON — The American flag flying above the U.S. Capitol on the 4th of July has special meaning for farmer Michael Bowman of Wray, Colo.
That’s because the flag was manufactured using Colorado-grown hemp, an organic departure from the standard nylon, cotton, polyester fibers that typically blend the Stars and Stripes.
“It’s a powerful symbol,” Bowman told the Washington Post, that going back to the country’s early days when Betsy Ross’s original flag from the Revolutionary War was made from abundant wild hemp.
Colorado’s Democratic Rep. Jared Polis hooked Bowman up with the Capitol flag office to recreate history this week.
“For America’s birthday we are flying a hemp flag over the US Capitol,” Polis announced on his Twitter account Tuesday.
Bowman is a supporter of commercially grown hemp, and has been lobbying Congress to legalize the production on U.S. farms.
Polis successfully sponsored an amendment to the Farm Bill that would have allowed some industrial hemp cultivation, but the bill was killed in the House.
“Many states, including Colorado, have demonstrated that they are fully capable of regulating industrial hemp,” Polis said in introducing his amendment last month. “George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. The first American flag was made of hemp. And today, U.S. retailers sell over $300 million worth of goods containing hemp—but all of that hemp is imported, since farmers can’t grow it here,” Polis said.
After the flag’s debut on Thursday, it will be shipped to Colorado where Bowman hopes to convince state lawmakers to fly it over the capitol in Denver.
This isn’t the first time a flag waving over the U.S. Capitol on the 4th of July has had a Colorado connection.
Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell successfully passed legislation in 1998 requiring that the POW/MIA flag be flown over the Capitol and other federal buildings on the 4th, as well as on Memorial and Veteran’s Day, to honor the military men and women who never made it home.