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Hemp: Industry Group Seeks "Beer Summit" on Capitol Hill Following Seizure of Legal Demonstration Fibers

press release from Vote Hemp

Hemp Seizure in Capitol Underscores Confusion Over Cannabis
Hemp Industry Seeks Beer Summit with Capitol Police

WASHINGTON, DC -- Vote Hemp legislative assistant Ben Droz was shocked when Capitol Police seized his samples of industrial hemp fiber that he needed for a scheduled presentation to congressional staffers. Police refused to release the fiber after the search, while saying they knew it had no drug value and was "just hemp." The group of officers decided they needed to confiscate all the hemp seeds because no food was allowed, but the hemp fiber was also seized even though it is not food. "I just want to throw this out," said one officer, who ultimately did.

Mr. Droz explained to police that the items were being used to illustrate the environmental properties of hemp. "This is just another example of the confusion between Industrial Hemp, an important crop for farmers across the country, and marijuana, a distant cousin also from the Cannabis family." The United States is the only developed country that does not recognize the distinction between the two varieties. Mr. Droz admits, "I gave up the hemp to police, fearing arrest at the time, and now feel compelled to raise this issue so it does not happen again because I carry hemp every time I visit the US Capitol."

"The fact that this level of confusion among law enforcement still exists today is exactly why federal policy on hemp needs to change," says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. "We hope for the return of Vote Hemp's property, an apology, and perhaps, a Capitol Hill beer summit or Congressional hearings to discuss our differences with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)."

Hemp products have been subject to confusion in the past. In 2002, the DEA attempted to ban imports on hemp foods, despite the growing recognition of its value to farmers and consumers. Vote Hemp, the Hemp Industries Association, and several US and Canadian companies, successfully challenged the DEA in a lawsuit calling the ban unwarranted and illegal. Since this ban was lifted, the hemp industry has grown substantially every year. Last year alone, grocery store sales of hemp food products grew over 40%.

Since 2005, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 1866) and its predecessors have waiting for a hearing in the House, but it's been tabled the entire time. The bill has a dozen bipartisan cosponsors, and allows states like Oregon (as of Jan. 2010), Maine, Vermont, North Dakota, Montana (and many others) to grow hemp based on State laws. Sixteen states have already passed legislation, and many, like the ones listed above, are simply waiting for the federal ban to be lifted once again. Mr. Droz has been working with Vote Hemp in order to raise congressional awareness about this marginalized issue.

The growing market proves the case of hemp. Food sales have grown every year since the ban was lifted. Other parts of the hemp plant, such as those confiscated from Droz, can be used to make any number of consumer products, while all jobs generate from the industry could be as green collar jobs.

Despite a growing global industry, US farmers are still unable to grow hemp. All hemp in the US must be imported from other countries to be either processed or sold here.

"It's ironic that the very items I was using to clear up confusion, became the subject of contraband and were confiscated," Mr. Droz commented after the incident.

Press Release: Hemp Seizure in Capitol Underscores Confusion Over Cannabis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 12, 2009 CONTACT: Benjamin Droz at 412-805-0087 or ben@votehemp.com, Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671 or adam@mintwood.com Hemp Seizure in Capitol Underscores Confusion Over Cannabis Hemp Industry Seeks Beer Summit with Capitol Police WASHINGTON, DC – Vote Hemp legislative assistant Ben Droz was shocked when Capitol Police seized his samples of industrial hemp fiber that he needed for a scheduled presentation to congressional staffers. Police refused to release the fiber after the search, while saying they knew it had no drug value and was “just hemp.” The group of officers decided they needed to confiscate all the hemp seeds because no food was allowed, but the hemp fiber was also seized even though it is not food. “I just want to throw this out,” said one officer, who ultimately did. Mr. Droz explained to police that the items were being used to illustrate the environmental properties of hemp. “This is just another example of the confusion between Industrial Hemp, an important crop for farmers across the country, and marijuana, a distant cousin also from the Cannabis family.” The United States is the only developed country that does not recognize the distinction between the two varieties. Mr. Droz admits, “I gave up the hemp to police, fearing arrest at the time, and now feel compelled to raise this issue so it does happen again because I carry hemp every time I visit the U.S. Capitol.” “The fact that this level of confusion among law enforcement still exists today is exactly why federal policy on hemp needs to change,” says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra. “We hope for the return of Vote Hemp’s property, an apology, and perhaps, a Capitol Hill beer summit or Congressional hearings to discuss our differences with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).” Hemp products have been subject to confusion in the past. In 2002, the DEA attempted to ban imports on hemp foods, despite the growing recognition of its value to farmers and consumers. Vote Hemp, the Hemp Industries Association, and several U.S. and Canadian companies, successfully challenged the DEA in a lawsuit calling the ban unwarranted and illegal. Since this ban was lifted, the hemp industry has grown substantially every year. Last year alone, grocery store sales of hemp food products grew over 40%. Since 2005, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 1866) and its predecessors have waiting for a hearing in the House, but it’s been tabled the entire time. The bill has a dozen bi-partisan cosponsors, and allows states like Oregon (as of Jan. 2010), Maine, Vermont, North Dakota, Montana (and many others) to grow hemp based on State laws. Sixteen states have already passed legislation, and many, like the ones listed above, are simply waiting for the federal ban to be lifted once again. Mr. Droz has been working with Vote Hemp in order to raise congressional awareness about this marginalized issue. The growing market proves the case of hemp. Food sales have grown every year since the ban was lifted. Other parts of the hemp plant, such as those confiscated from Droz, can be used to make any number of consumer products, while all jobs generate from the industry could be as green collar jobs. Despite a growing global industry, U.S. farmers are still unable to grow hemp. All hemp in the U.S. must be imported from other countries to be either processed or sold here. “It’s ironic that the very items I was using to clear up confusion, became the subject of contraband and were confiscated,” Mr. Droz comments after the incident. # # # Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop. More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com or www.HempIndustries.org. BETA SP or DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request from Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Press Release: Oregon Hemp Farming Bill Becomes Law

Oregon Hemp Farming Bill Becomes Law - New State Program for Hemp Farmers to be Established

Contact: Tom Murphy at 207-542-4998 or tom@votehemp.com or Adam Eidinger at  202-744-2671 or adam@mintwood.com

SALEM, OR – Vote Hemp, the leading grassroots advocacy organization working to give back farmers the right to grow industrial hemp (the oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis), enthusiastically supports the decision of Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski to sign SB 676 into law today.  The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 46 to 11 and the Senate by a vote of 27 to 2, permits the production, trade and possession of industrial hemp commodities and products.  With the Governor’s signature, it now makes a politically bold commitment to develop hemp in a state whose slogan is “Oregon – We Love Dreamers.”

“I am glad that Oregon has joined the other states that have agreed that American farmers should have the right to re-introduce industrial hemp as an agricultural crop,” says SB 676 sponsor, Sen. Floyd Prozanski.  “By signing SB 676 into law, which passed the Oregon Legislature with strong bi-partisan support, Governor Kulongoski has taken a proactive position allowing our farmers the right to grow industrial hemp, to provide American manufacturers with domestically-grown hemp, and to profit from that effort.”  The new law sets up a state-regulated program for farmers to grow industrial hemp which is used in a wide variety of products, including nutritious foods, cosmetics, body care, clothing, tree-free paper, auto parts, building materials, fuels and much more.  Learn more about hemp at www.VoteHemp.com.

“Oregon’s federal delegation can now take this law to the U.S. Congress and call for a fix to this problem, so American companies will no longer need to import hemp and American farmers will no longer be denied a profitable new crop,” comments Vote Hemp Director, Patrick Goggin.  “Under current federal policy, industrial hemp can be imported, but it cannot be grown by American farmers.  Hemp is an environmentally-friendly crop that has not been grown commercially in the U.S. for over fifty years because of a politicized and misguided interpretation of the nation’s drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  While a new federal bill in Congress, HR 1866, is a welcome step, the hemp industry is hopeful that the Obama administration will recognize hemp’s myriad benefits to farmers, businesses and the environment,” adds Goggin.

Many businesses in Oregon manufacture, market and sell hemp products, including Living Harvest, The Merry Hempsters, Wilderness Poets, Earthbound Creations, Sweetgrass Natural Fibers, Sympatico Clothing, Mama’s Herbal Soaps and Hempire.  Living Harvest of Portland was recently ranked the third-fastest-growing company in Oregon, as awarded by The Portland Business Journal’s “Fastest-Growing Private 100 Companies” annual award.  “We are looking forward to the opportunity to invest in hemp processing and production locally,” says Hans Fastre, CEO of Living Harvest.  “This new law represents another step towards heightening the hemp industry’s profile within mainstream America and making hemp products more accessible to businesses and consumers.”

These Oregon-based companies have been on the leading edge of the growing hemp food and body care markets, which are currently estimated by the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) to be $113 million in North American annual retail sales.  The HIA estimates the 2008 annual retail sales of all hemp products in North America to be about $360 million.  By allowing U.S. farmers to once again grow hemp, legislators can clear the way for a “New Billion-Dollar Crop.”

Hemp Farming Gains Support from More State Governments and Law Enforcement

According to the Illinois Valley News, Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson said that he supports the legalization of industrial hemp.  “I think it’s a good idea,” Gilbertson said in the article which appeared on July 29.  “I think it’s a viable crop, and the entire county could benefit from it.”

On June 9, with little fanfare, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed the Maine hemp farming bill, LD 1159, into law.  Maine’s House had previously passed the bill without objection, and the Senate later passed it by a strong vote of 25 to 10.  The bill establishes a licensing regime for farming industrial hemp, although the licensing is contingent upon action by the federal government.  Maine had previously passed a study bill that also defined industrial hemp.  Like North Dakota, the new law in Oregon does not require a federal permit to grow industrial hemp.

During the 2009 legislative session, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Vermont all passed pro-hemp laws, resolutions or memorials.  Sixteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation to date, and eight states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research.  Like North Dakota, where farmers are in a federal court battle over their rights to grow hemp under state law without fear of federal prosecution, the new law in Oregon does not require a federal DEA permit to grow hemp.

#   #   #

Vote Hemp is a national, single-issue, non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop.  More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses may be found at www.VoteHemp.com or www.HempIndustries.org.  BETA SP or DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request from Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.

Location: 
OR
United States

BMW and Mercedes Use Hemp in Their Cars

Remind me why hemp is illegal to grow in the U.S.:

…if you drive a BMW or a Mercedes Benz, or wear Armani jeans or Patagonia shirts, you could be consuming hemp.

Its fiber turns up in car door panels, insulation and clothing. Its seeds make tasty granola and frozen desserts, its oil expensive cosmetics and ecologically friendly soap.

If you use these products, you won’t be jailed for possession. But would-be hemp farmers’ fear of arrest is what keeps the U.S. importing the stuff instead of growing its own. [Bloomberg]

I don't write about hemp often, mainly because it's not actually a drug, but it bears repeating that the only reason hemp cultivation is illegal is because a bunch of paranoid drug warriors are utterly terrified of it. As stupid as the arguments against legalizing marijuana are, the case against hemp is even more mindless and pathetic.

Just pause for a moment and think about the fact that the DEA banned a substance used to make door panels for luxury cars, simply because it's related to marijuana. That level of marijuana hysteria probably wouldn’t be possible in the current political climate, but we're stuck with it until Congress admits this is ridiculous.

And I guarantee you that if Congress attempts to legalize hemp cultivation in the U.S., there will actually be people who freak out about it and try to argue that hemp somehow endangers America's youth.

Industrial Hemp: Bill Passes Oregon Legislature, Heads for Governor's Desk

The Oregon House Monday passed SB 676 by a veto-proof margin of 46-11. The measure would allow for the production, possession, and commercialization of industrial hemp and its products. The measure passed the state Senate on June 19 an equally veto-proof 27-2 margin.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/hempplants.jpg
hemp plants
During the House debate, hemp supporter Rep. Jules Bailey (D-Portland) used visual aids to demonstrate the diversity of hemp products, waving around bags of hemp tortilla chips and non-dairy hemp milk. He also held up a t-shirt emblazoned with the words "Senate Bill 676 is about rope, not dope."

"I am glad that Oregon has joined the list of states that have agreed that American farmers should have the right to reintroduce industrial hemp as an agricultural crop," said bill sponsor Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-South Lane and North Douglas Counties). "By passing SB 676 with strong bipartisan support, the Oregon legislature has taken a proactive position to allow its farmers the right to grow industrial hemp, to provide American manufacturers with domestically-grown hemp, and to profit from that effort."

The industry association Vote Hemp said it was confident Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) would sign the bill. If he does, or if a veto is overridden, Oregon will become the ninth state to authorize industrial hemp production under state law. It remains forbidden by federal law.

"The time has come for the federal government to act and allow farmers to once again grow hemp, so American companies will no longer need to import it and American farmers will no longer be denied a profitable new crop," said Vote Hemp president Eric Steenstra. "Under current federal policy, industrial hemp can be imported, but it cannot be grown by American farmers. Hemp is a versatile, environmentally-friendly crop that has not been grown in the US for over fifty years because of a misguided and politicized interpretation of the nation's drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). While a new bill in Congress, H.R. 1866, is a welcome step, the hemp industry is hopeful that President Obama's administration will recognize hemp's myriad benefits to farmers, businesses and the environment," he added.

"We are looking forward to the opportunity to invest in hemp processing and production locally," says Hans Fastre, chief executive officer of Living Harvest, one of the numerous hemp product companies based in Oregon. "This bill represents another step towards heightening the hemp industry's profile within mainstream America and making hemp products more accessible to businesses and consumers."

If the bill becomes law, Oregon will become the second state to approve industrial hemp this year. Maine did so last month. Four other states, Montana, New Mexico, Vermont and North Dakota passed resolutions or memorials urging Congress to allow states to regulate hemp farming this year.

The states that have okayed hemp production are Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia. North Dakota has even issued licenses to would-be hemp farmers for the past two years, but the federal prohibition has prevented any hemp planting.

Press Release: Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul Introduce Hemp Bill HR 1866

VH


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2009

 
   
CONTACT:     Tom Murphy 207-542-4998
                                    tom@votehemp.com
                     Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
                            adam@mintwood.com


Representatives Barney Frank and Ron Paul Introduce
Hemp Farming Legislation - HR 1866

 
WASHINGTON, DC - A federal bill was introduced yesterday that, if passed into law, would remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp.  The chief sponsors of HR 1866, "The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009," Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX), were joined by nine other U.S. House members split equally between Republicans and Democrats.
 
 "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 Representative Ron Paul during his introduction of the bill yesterday before the U.S. House.  "Indeed, the founders of our nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited, restrained federal government.  Therefore, I urge my colleagues to stand up for American farmers and co-sponsor the Industrial Hemp Farming Act," concluded Paul.
 
"With so much discussion lately in the media about drug policy, it is surprising that the tragedy of American hemp farming hasn't come up as a 'no-brainer' for reform," says Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra.  "Hemp is a versatile, environmentally-friendly crop that has not been grown here for over fifty years because of a politicized interpretation of the nation's drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  President Obama should direct the DEA to stop confusing industrial hemp with its genetically distinct cousin, marijuana.  While the new bill in Congress is a welcome step, the hemp industry is hopeful that President Obama's administration will prioritize hemp's benefits to farmers.  Jobs would be created overnight, as there are numerous U.S. companies that now have no choice but to import hemp raw materials worth many millions of dollars per year," adds Steenstra.
 
U.S. companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a California company who manufactures the number-one-selling natural soap, and FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana company whose natural fiber materials are used in over two million cars on the road today.  Hemp food manufacturers, such as French Meadow Bakery, Hempzels, Living Harvest, Nature's Path and Nutiva, now make their products from Canadian hemp.  Although hemp now grows wild across the U.S., a vestige of centuries of hemp farming here, the hemp for these products must be imported.  Hemp clothing is made around the world by well-known brands such as Patagonia, Bono's Edun and Giorgio Armani.
 
There is strong support among key national organizations for a change in the federal government's position on hemp.  The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) "supports revisions to the federal rules and regulations authorizing commercial production of industrial hemp."  The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has also passed a pro-hemp resolution.
 
Numerous individual states have expressed interest in and support for industrial hemp as well.  Sixteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation, and eight states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research.  North Dakota has been issuing state licenses to farmers for two years now.  The new bill will remove federal barriers and allow laws in these states regulating the growing and processing of hemp to take effect.
 
"Under the current national drug control policy, industrial hemp can be imported, but it can't be grown by American farmers," says Steenstra.  "The DEA has taken the Controlled Substances Act's antiquated definition of marijuana out of context and used it as an excuse to ban industrial hemp farming.  The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 will return us to more rational times when the government regulated marijuana, but allowed farmers to continue raising industrial hemp just as they always had."
 
#   #   #
 
More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses can be found at www.VoteHemp.com.
BETA SP and DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Press Release: Representatives Barney Frank and Ron Paul Introduce Hemp Farming Legislation

press release from Vote Hemp:

WASHINGTON, DC: A federal bill was introduced today that will remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp. The chief sponsors of HR 1866, "The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009," Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) were joined by nine other US House members split equally between Republicans and Democrats.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/hempharvest.jpg
hemp being harvested (courtesy Wikipedia)
"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 Representative Ron Paul during his introduction of the bill today before the US House. "Indeed, the founders of our nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited, restrained federal government. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to stand up for American farmers and cosponsor the Industrial Hemp Farming Act," concluded Paul.

"With so much discussion lately in the media about drug policy, it is surprising the tragedy of American hemp farming hasn't come up as a 'no-brainer' for reform," says Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra. "Hemp is a versatile, environmentally friendly crop that has not been grown for over 50 years because of a politicized interpretation of the nation's drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). President Obama should direct the DEA to avoid confusing industrial hemp and it's genetically distinct cousin marijuana. While the new bill in Congress is a welcome step, the hemp industry is hopeful the President Barack Obama's administration will prioritize hemp's benefits to farmers. There are jobs that would be created over night as there are numerous American companies that have no choice but to import hemp worth many millions of dollars per year," says Steenstra.

US companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a California company who manufactures the number-one-selling natural soap, and FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana company whose natural fiber materials are used in over two million cars. Hemp food manufacturers such as French Meadow Bakery, Hempzels, Living Harvest, Nature's Path and Nutiva now make their products from Canadian hemp. Although hemp grows wild across the US, a vestige of centuries of hemp farming, the hemp for these products must be imported. Hemp clothing is made around the world by well-known brands such as Patagonia, Bono's Edun and Giorgio Armani.

There is strong support among key national organizations for a change in the federal government's position on hemp. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) "supports revisions to the federal rules and regulations authorizing commercial production of industrial hemp."

Numerous individual states have expressed interest in industrial hemp as well. Sixteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation; eight (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research. North Dakota has issued state licenses, two years running. The new bill will remove federal barriers and allow laws in these states regulating the growing and processing of industrial hemp to take effect.

More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses can be found at www.VoteHemp.com. BETA SP and DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at adam@mintwood.com.

Press Release: New Bill Allowing Industrial Hemp Farming Expected to be Introduced this Week

VH

VOTEHEMP.COM  
NEWS ADVISORY
April 1, 2009
 
    CONTACT: Tom Murphy 207-542-4998
                             tom@votehemp.com
                   Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
                              adam@mintwood.com 

 

New Bill Allowing Industrial Hemp Farming Expected to be Introduced this Week
 
WASHINGTON, DC - For the third time since the federal government outlawed hemp farming in the United States over 50 years ago, a federal bill will be introduced that will remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp.  The chief sponsors, Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX), have circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter seeking support for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009.  The bill will be identical to HR 1009, which was introduced in the 110th Congress in 2007. 
 
"With so much discussion lately in the media about drug policy, it's surprising that the tragedy of American hemp farming hasn't come up as a 'no-brainer' for reform," says Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra.  "Hemp is a versatile, environmentally-friendly crop that has not been grown here for over 50 years because of a politicized interpretation of the nation's drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  President Obama should direct the DEA to stop confusing industrial hemp with its genetically distinct cousin, marijuana.  While the new bill in Congress is a welcome step, the hemp industry is hopeful that the new leadership in the White House will prioritize the crop's benefits to farmers.  Jobs would be created overnight, as there are numerous U.S. companies that now have no choice but to import hemp materials valued at $360 million in annual retail sales and growing," adds Steenstra.
 
U.S. companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a California company who manufactures the number-one-selling natural soap, and FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana company whose natural fiber materials are used in over three million cars on the road today.  Hemp food manufacturers, such as French Meadow Bakery, Hempzels, Living Harvest, Nature's Path and Nutiva, now make their products from Canadian hemp.  Although hemp now grows wild across the U.S., a vestige of centuries of hemp farming here, the hemp for these products must be imported.  Hemp clothing is made around the world by well-known brands such as Patagonia, Bono's Edun and Giorgio Armani.
 
There is strong support among key national organizations for a change in the federal government's position on hemp.  The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) "supports revisions to the federal rules and regulations authorizing commercial production of industrial hemp."  The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has also passed a pro-hemp resolution.
 
Numerous individual states have expressed interest in and support for industrial hemp as well.  Sixteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation, and eight states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research.  North Dakota has been issuing state licenses to farmers for two years now.  The new bill will remove federal barriers and allow laws in these states regulating the growing and processing of hemp to take effect.
 
"Under the current national drug control policy, industrial hemp can be imported, but it can't be grown by American farmers," says Steenstra.  "The DEA has taken the Controlled Substances Act's antiquated definition of marijuana out of context and used it as an excuse to ban industrial hemp farming.  The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 will return us to more rational times when the government regulated marijuana, but allowed farmers to continue raising industrial hemp just as they always had."
 
#   #   #



More information about hemp legislation and the crop's many uses can be found at www.VoteHemp.com.
BETA SP and DVD Video News Releases featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries are available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.

     
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

If Obama Supports Medical Marijuana, What About Hemp?

On the heels of Obama's hugely popular decision to end the DEA's raids on medical marijuana providers, it's worth looking into some of the other absurd federal drug policies that interfere with states rights and common sense.

Hemp cultivation isn’t technically illegal in the U.S., but you need a special permit from the DEA, and if you ask for one they'll call you a hippie and tell you to go f@#k yourself.  Seriously, try it. I applied last year and this is the response I got:

Dear Mr. Morgan,

We have finished processing your application to "grow hemp so I can make cool snacks and rope and stuff." We regret to inform you that you are a hippie and you can go screw yourself.

Yours cruelly,

Michele Leonhart,
Acting Administrator
Drug Enforcement Administration

P.S. Your blog sucks and if you put this letter in your blog, we'll burn down the Chipotle next to your office.

That about sums it up. Honestly, I don’t even get why this is an issue. Hemp isn’t drugs. Why DEA gives a damn if people want to cultivate hemp is completely beyond me. Near as I can tell, they're relying exclusively on the argument that people will surreptitiously grow marijuana in their hemp fields, which is preposterous because you can't do that. Hemp will cross-pollinate and destroy any commercial marijuana in its vicinity. It's the anti-pot.

Thus, I tend to assume that DEA's animosity towards hemp is merely a symptom of the broader culture war surrounding marijuana in general. They'll concede nothing to the reform community, even when their intransigence requires them to obstruct legitimate economic activity based on flimsy reasoning.

Of course, now that we have a president with the guts to tell DEA when they're out of line, there's simply no reason this issue can’t move forward. Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia have all passed laws authorizing hemp cultivation and eagerly await the federal go-ahead. Efforts to legalize hemp are also underway in Minnesota and in California, where a hemp bill died on the governor's desk (Schwarzenegger cited conflict with federal law as his reason for rejecting the legislation).

Hemp won't save our economy, but it can provide income for many good, hardworking people. We lead the industrialized world in the importation of hemp and it would make a great deal of sense to start producing it ourselves.

Africa: Debate Over Marijuana Legalization in Morocco Hits the Airwaves

Since at least the 15th Century, farmers in Morocco's Rif Mountains have been growing marijuana, which they typically process into hashish. For decades, Moroccan hash has been a mainstay of European marijuana markets. In recent years, production reached a peak of 135,000 hectares in 2003 before declining to about 60,000 hectares this year and last in the face of aggressive government efforts to eradicate crops and break up trafficking organizations.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/moroccohashish.jpg
Moroccan hashish field
But while the half-decade of harsh repression has led to ever-larger seizure numbers, it has also led to ever-larger arrest figures and stoked resentment in traditional marijuana growing regions. Efforts to reduce cultivation through alternative development programs have proven only partial successful, and now the debate over what to do about marijuana production has broken out into the public sphere.

On Wednesday, December 3, Moroccan Television's second station, 2M, broadcast a live debate on possible approaches to cannabis cultivation called "Cannabis and Hashish: What Approach To Take?" Participating in the discussion were Khalid Zerouali, executive director of migration and customs; Chakib Al Khayari, president of the Association for Human Rights in the Rif region, Professor Mohamed Hmamouchi, director of the National Institute of Medicinal Plants; Hamid El Farouki, director of development at the Agency for Promotion and Development of the Northern Region; and researcher Abderrahman Merzouki.

According to a report on the debate made available by the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD), the panelists discussed three questions:

  • To what degree have alternative development projects been able to support the populations in replacing their illicit traditions?
  • Is it possible to direct the cultivation of cannabis towards therapeutic and industrial uses and, in a general way, towards an alternative economy in these regions?
  • What is the role of regional and international cooperation in this domain?

While government ministers Zerouli and El Farouki called eradication programs a success, citing a 55% reduction in cultivation since 2003, human rights advocate Al Khayari characterized that figure as "not realistic." He said new marijuana fields that had not been counted had sprung up in various regions. Merzouki supported this opinion, and denounced human rights violations against farmers whose fields were eradicated. The law enforcement approach should immediately be replaced by a social approach, he said.

Al Khayari added that alternative development projects tried for the past quarter-century have had some successes, but have not managed to blunt marijuana production. Part of the problem, he said, is that such products are limited. Another part of the problem was that the project designers and managers have not taken into consideration the economic problems and cultural traditions of marijuana cultivation areas.

According to Al Khayari, cannabis cultivation in the Rif predates the arrival of the Arabs. Even the porters of the Koran pray to Allah to protect their sacred plant, he noted.

Professor Hmamouchi insisted that lack of basic infrastructure in some producing regions, a result of the traditional marginalization of the Rif, were a fundamental impediment to alternative development programs. Hmamouchi proposed a larger investment in the National Initiative for Human Development to develop new projects that could help the producing regions.

As the debate wound down, human rights advocate Al Khayari proposed legalizing marijuana as the only practical solution for the traditional producing regions, a view that was seconded by Hmamouchi. Legalization should come within a framework that would regulate cultivation and allow for medicinal and industrial (hemp) cultivation, said Al Khayari.

Even Customs Minister Zerouli agreed that it was a provocative idea for the historical producing regions. He said he would discuss the notion in a more profound way with the participation of civil society as a means of reducing illicit drug trafficking.

Meanwhile, cultivation continues, as do eradication and arrests. And some 800,000 Moroccans derive at least part of their income from it.

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