In Breakthrough, Farm Bill Includes Hemp Amendment [FEATURE]

The omnibus federal farm bill approved by Congressional conference committee negotiators this week and destined to be quickly signed into law includes the hemp amendment that was approved by the House last year before the bill blew up over Republican efforts to cut food stamp spending. The final version of the farm bill passed the House Wednesday morning.

hemp field at sunrise (votehemp.com)
Originally introduced by Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the hemp amendment doesn't legalize hemp production, but it does allow for research on industrial hemp by universities and state agriculture departments in the 10 states that have approved hemp production. There are two bills pending in Congress that would legalize hemp; they are House Resolution 525, the "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013," and the companion legislation, Senate Bill 359.

The 10 states that have already passed laws allowing hemp production are California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia, and the vote comes as even more states are showing an interest in hemp. Hemp bills have been introduced in 11 states this year, including Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, New Jersey (carried over from 2013), New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington (two bills were carried over from 2013) West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

"Although I strongly opposed the Republican Farm Bill, I was pleased to see that the bipartisan amendment that I offered with Representatives Blumenauer and Massie was included in the final bill that passed the House of Representatives today," said Rep. Polis. "This common sense amendment will allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes in states where industrial hemp cultivation is already legal. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that this language becomes law."

"This is an important victory for farmers, manufacturers, and consumers in Kentucky and across the country. Our amendment paves the way for production of industrial hemp by first allowing America's academic and research institutions to demonstrate that hemp and the products derived from hemp present a great economic opportunity for our country," said Rep. Massie. "The inclusion of our industrial hemp amendment in the farm bill reflects widespread support for cultivating industrial hemp and proves Congress can work together in a bipartisan fashion to help the American economy at a time when creating jobs is a national priority."

hemp supporter Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) (house.gov)
"With the U.S. hemp industry estimated at over $500 million in annual retail sales and growing, a change in federal law to allow for colleges and universities to grow hemp for research would mean that we will finally begin to regain the knowledge that unfortunately has been lost over the past fifty years," says Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra. "The American Farm Bureau Federation announced their opposition to the controlled substance classification of hemp earlier this month, and now passage of this amendment means America can get on track to once again become the predominant producer and manufacturer of hemp -- one of the most versatile and ecological industrial crops on the planet."

The hemp amendment was among the few provisions in the farm bill that had not been previously approved by both houses of Congress. That it made it into the final version of the farm bill was a testament to the bill's support, and to some key supporters, Steenstra told the Chronicle Wednesday.

"Senator Wyden introduced an amendment to the Senate farm bill that was more expansive than the House version, but the leadership limited the votes severely and our provision never got a vote," Steenstra explained. "That, combined with the fact that Senator Leahy had basically cleared it through Judiciary, allowed it to go forward. But ultimately, Senator McConnell and other conferees spoke up for it."

Both McConnell and his fellow Kentucky US senator, Rand Paul, have been ardent hemp supporters, supporting legislation both at the state level and now, in Washington.

"This is an important victory for Kentucky's farmers, and I was pleased to be able to secure this language on behalf of our state," McConnell said in a statement issued Tuesday. "By giving states the go-ahead to cultivate hemp for pilot programs, we are laying the groundwork for a new commodity market for Kentucky farmers. By exploring innovative ways to use hemp to benefit a variety of Kentucky industries, while avoiding negative impact to Kentucky law enforcement's efforts at marijuana interdiction, the pilot programs authorized by this legislation could help boost our state's economy."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) played a key role. (senate.gov)
"We think this is pretty significant," Steenstra said. "It's an excellent first step to revitalize what was once a proud and significant industry in this country. A big part of our farming economy has been lost, and we have to work to recover it."

The bill not only allows universities to do hemp research, Steenstra noted, but it also allows state agriculture departments to do pilot studies.

"That's a little bit more expansive than just research," he said. "The can look into things like marketing and cultivation of hemp, and that's a significant opportunity for the 10 states where it is legal."

Steenstra didn't think inclusion of the hemp amendment in the farm bill would take the oomph out the pending hemp legalization bills.

"We've made it very clear, and all of our supporters in Congress understand this, that this is just a first step," he said. "There are a lot of people anxious to grow hemp, and this won't really solve that. We will be able to get some crops in the ground and show that hemp is not the boogie man we feared, but commercial farmers still won't be able to grow it until we get those bill passed."

Although hemp proponents are careful to draw a bright line between industrial hemp and psychoactive marijuana, the growing national debate over -- and acceptance of -- marijuana has been a help rather than a hindrance, Steenstra said.

"The reality is that hemp has been caught up in marijuana policy for 70-some years," he noted. "There is no way to deal with hemp policy without looking at overall marijuana policy. These are two separate tracks, but at the same time, having a lot of people looking at marijuana policy has been a good thing for hemp."

New leadership at the DEA would be a good thing, too, Steenstra said, moaning aloud as he recounted DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart's comment last week that the low point of her career was seeing a hemp flag fly over the US capitol.

"Of all the things she should be down about, she complains about a flag made out of non-drug hemp fiber," he said."We're hoping a more enlightened DEA head will come in and replace her and bring some sanity to policy over there."

Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Besty Ross made our 1st flag w material made of hemp fiber

Betsy Ross made the 1st flag out of hemp .. of currency was printed on hemp paper and Henry Ford ran all of his first cars on hemp fuel .. our country was built on hemp even the $10 bill has hemp farmers on the back of the bill taking hemp to the industries on the right side of the bill

<img src="http://www.globalhemp.com/wp-content/uploads/2000/05/1914-federal-reserve-note-1.jpg" />

$10 Dolar Bill

The $10 bill HAD (not HAS) hemp farmers on it. I went straight to my wallet and was disappointed and then had to load your link up to see the pic. That was from 1914 back when our money was worth something and backed by gold or silver in Fort Knox. Funny how they removed the hemp pic from our money and stopped backing it with gold and silver and out money has been worth less ever since. (not worthless just worth less). Cool facts thanks for sharing!

Extreme Pacifist's picture

Hemp Research?!?

New Farm Bill passed by congress "Allows the government to grow hemp for Research"?!? Another stall tactic. Keep the game going. Keep the status quo. That's their Modus Operandi. I say break the Status Quo!

hemp research

About time this is something that should have been done a long time ago!!

hemp research

I totally agree with your opinion.

Iklan Gratis

Key Points on War

Many a fool  has used marijuana...NO ONE had died

Marijuana HAS medical value....way more than methamphetamine IMHO

The WORST place to try to grow consumable marijuana.....is in a hemp field

Some of the biggest OPPONENTS to marijuana legalization....those who grow it to sell illegally

Marijuana users are the 'new' second class citizens....it is time to step up to first class.

Let's keep the dialog going and stop what was started in 1937.

l agree with you guys Obat

l agree with you guys

 

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Drug consumption is a public

Drug consumption is a public health problem and a criminal justice matter. To be honest, I really would not take into consideration the opinion of Venezuelan, Colombian, Chapines, Mexicans or the opinion of Ecuador or Norway or Switzerland on the subject, after all, they only seek to fill their pockets. As citizens of the world we all need to oppose any alternative to prohibition.

Well i hate alcohol, it

Well i hate alcohol, it almost killed my Uncle, but i would never let that confuse me into thinking prohibition works and the control should remain in the hands of criminals. I would never let my personal experiences leave me misguided and idiotic. Legalize cannabis, de-glamorize it, regulate it, tax it, control it, prescribe it. A drugs policy should be based on harm reduction, prohibition is causing more harm than it prevents. Sorry prohibitionists, legal regulation is inevitable. Peace :)

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jurisdiction

The DEA, an enforcement agency, shouldn't even have an opinion. A law is passed, measures are taken to enforce it, end of story. Police shouldn't have a say as to what is or isn't declared a crime. Just enforce the law, anything else is outside your jurisdiction. daniela

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