The country - the world, for that matter - is weathering one of the worst economic doldrums in its history. Businesses are folding, jobs are being lost and people are looking for hope that things will, one day get better.
Some really desperate and deluded folks are even looking to the government for answers. And for once, they might be onto something. Turns out the powers-that-be are turning to a miracle cure for what ails us.
No, don't get too worked up. They're not saying we should all just get stoned. We're talking about hemp, here. Hemp, as you may know, is the non-smokable, non-drug cousin to the college-days happy crop that has myriad uses in textiles, industry, paper, biodegradable plastics, you name it - it may even cause world peace and lead to clear skin.
Hemp cultivation in the U.S., though, is illegal. You can find hemp-made items imported here - we're the world's largest importer of hemp products - but the government has problems distinguishing between the weed and THE WEED.
Until now, it seems. A group of 10 congressmen as disparate as Barney Frank (D-MA) and the darling of those plucky alternative-thinking conservatives, Ron Paul (R-TX) are high on a measure to make cultivation of hemp in this country legal. Their plan is to create a new sector of agriculture industry and they think we're ripe to inhale everything the wonder fiber has to offer.
"It is unfortunate that the federal government has stood in the way of American farmers, including many who are struggling to make ends meet, from competing in the global industrial hemp market," said Rep. Paul during his introduction of the bill.
So now the country appears one step closer to depending on the wonder fibers that hemp produces even as it's illegal cousin, marijuana, crops up in the news as states move to tacitly decriminalize it. Even President Obama has been thrown into the fray, answering voter questions during a town hall on whether marijuana's time has come in terms of making a viable economic contribution in the near future - he said no way, you dirty, bong-hitting Internet potheads.
So it looks for the time being that while marijuana is providing all the smoke in our national discourse, hemp is the cannabis on fire in terms of actual viability when it comes to not only legalization, but also cultivation.
And just in case you don't know where you sit on the issue, here' this helpful and scientific look at the marijuana issue, brought to you by the same government folks who produced the wartime infomercial posted above.