"If it wasn't economically viable, people wouldn't be growing it." Since the Bush administration took office, 2.8 million manufacturing jobs have been lost. Now that a section of the President's Economic Report has expanded the definition of manufacturing jobs to include those in the fast-food industry, it seems the administration is scrambling hard for numbers, if not crumbs. But some entrepreneurs like Denis Cicero have a ready solution for today's jobless recovery: hemp. The owner of the Galaxy Global Eatery in Manhattan, which has served hemp-based foods since 1995, Cicero believes the fibrous plant could provide the very cornerstone of Republican economics – jobs and money. "This is a burgeoning industry that's waiting to happen," says Cicero, whose 2002 book Hemp Cookbook captured the attention of health-minded celebrities. "There are 25,000 known applications for hemp, from paint varnishes, fabric, and cooking oil to thermal bricks and car parts. It's unbelievable the number of jobs that could be created if it was legalized." But growing hemp remains illegal in the United States, where the DEA has taken a hard line on the crop as a result of the war against its psychoactive cousin, marijuana, even though hemp contains only trace amounts of THC. Once cultivated widely, particularly in Kentucky, hemp's tough fibers were used for products ranging from rope, paper, clothing and canvas – whose name is derived from the Arabic word for hemp – including the canvas that once covered pioneer wagons heading out west. But in 1937, in an effort to crack down on marijuana, the federal government outlawed the plant only to backpedal when the Japanese cut off America's supply from the Philippines. Roughly 14,000 acres were harvested for rope in 1942, and had the war not ended, the government's goal the following year was 300,000 acres. Although farmers cannot cultivate hemp, as viable foodstuff, the plant is beginning to make legal inroads. In March, California's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's interpretive rule banning edible hemp seed or oil. Labeled by 18 members of Congress as being "overly restrictive," the regulation, issued in October 2001 without public notice, stood to bar foods containing trace amounts of THC under the Controlled Substances Act. The court's order effectively allows the hemp foods industry to continue its commercial success. For those in the business, the ruling suggests growing recognition of the plant's vast market potential, which has rocketed in recent years. The Hemp Industry Association, which launched the suit against the DEA, estimates retail sales of hemp products at $200 million annually. According to John Roulac, founder of Nutiva, a Sebastopol, CA-based company that sells organic hemp and flax food bars, hemp is an "economic Jack in the Beanstalk." "Sales are going so fast the farmers in Canada literally can't keep up with our production," says Roulac, whose business doubled this year to $1 million. "We're actually branching out into coconut oil because strategically, we can't rely on Canadian infrastructure," he says.