Hemporium, proprietor tout "most amazing plants"

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Monster balls of hemp twine are here!

And vegan honey-chocolate chip ice cream made from the hemp plant. And sandals, shorts, hats and shirts.

When people think of the hemp plant, the first thing that usually comes to mind is hemp twine. Well, almost the first.

But Joe Shimek, owner and proprietor of the Vermont Hemporium, is out to set the record straight on this hardy and oft- misunderstood weed. "The most amazing and beneficial plant known to man" a sign proclaims on the store's back wall, rallying the faithful to support the legalization of hemp because of its practical benefits.

Hemp, or Cannabis saliva, can be grown again and again on the same land, said Shimek, who has a license to import it. Spun into cloth, it lasts four times as long as cotton, repels water and doesn't mildew. Its pulp can be made into paper.

The Vermont Hemporium doesn't emphasize the drug aspect of the weed. But Shimek doesn't hide from it either.

"I do smoke pot, and I'm proud of it," Shimek said. "Quite regularly, actually." But what if the police find out?

Shimek shrugs. "They already know I use cannabis. I own a hemp store."

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