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

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #592)
Drug War Issues

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.

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.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


I learned about hemp back in 1990 and was selling hemp products in Germany... FINALLY, MAYBE our st00pid politicians will have to put an end to taking bribes from the pharma, chemical, alcohol and tobacco companies.


Fri, 07/03/2009 - 1:52pm Permalink

Four years ago, I sent the following open letter to Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and various other of Oregon's elected and/or appointed public officials:

Consumers and producers alike will more readily accept any plan or method used to reduce, limit, or otherwise control greenhouse gas emissions if it can be shown to have multiple uses, provide multiple benefits and generate multiple income streams. One such methodology involves the use of cannabis hemp, which appears to be the best single approach to minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. But, as ludicrous as it is ironic, it’s illegal to grow the one plant that could do the most to save the planet from global warming. Am I the only one to think we have our priorities wrong?

Growing cannabis in a natural environment is a straightforward process requiring no herbicides and few, if any, pesticides. The only soil requirements relate to pH, plant nutrient levels, moisture availability and drainage.

Farmers choosing to grow cannabis could benefit in numerous ways. Because it restores the soil in which it’s grown rather than depleting it, cannabis makes an excellent rotation crop, allowing farmers to avoid “fallow field” syndrome. 100% of arable land could be planted every year. Due to cannabis hemp’s many uses and the fact that virtually no part of a hemp plant is wasted, it’s unlikely that cannabis would ever be subject to market price fluctuations. Annual farm income and profitability would rise accordingly.

Cannabis hemp is a perfect vehicle for biological sequestration because it produces more biomass, in less time, than any other multiple-use plant capable of growing in the Northern Hemisphere. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bulletin No. 404, issued in 1916, reported that one acre of land planted in hemp would produce 4.1 times more cellulose, over 20 years, than an equal amount of land planted in trees.

Legalized cannabis could revitalize Oregon’s economy by creating new industries, or recreating old ones. Paper, plastics, textiles, biomass fuels, food, medicine, building and construction materials and protective coatings and finishes are just some of the products that can be made from cannabis. There are thousands of others. New industries would help alleviate Oregon’s chronic unemployment problem, and bring in new tax revenues to help fund education and health care.

Oregon’s colleges and universities could research new uses for cannabis hemp, and develop new, energy-efficient technologies for producing cannabis-based products. Solar stills capable of producing fuel-grade alcohol in commercial quantities would be particularly useful, as would small-scale versions suitable for home use. Private industry would find profitability in developing and manufacturing hemp harvesting and processing machinery. As demand for hemp and hemp-based products spreads across the nation and around the world, new markets are sure to open.

Biomass fuels, particularly alcohol (ethanol and methanol) and biodiesel made from cannabis could be processed on-site, where the hemp is grown, or at other nearby processor locations to serve local communities, thereby reducing fuel transportation costs. Alcohol fuels are exceptionally clean burning, leaving behind only carbon dioxide and water as combustion byproducts. As a result, alcohol-fueled engines last longer, require less maintenance and fewer oil changes than do their gasoline-fueled counterparts.

Cannabis hemp uses fewer chemicals during its growth cycle, and fewer chemicals during paper manufacturing processes, meaning that the saved chemicals aren’t introduced into the environment. Additionally, fabrics made from hemp are stronger, warmer, more absorbent and more durable than are fabrics made from cotton. Hemp fabrics can be recycled into paper at the end of their life cycles, and hemp paper can be recycled many more times than can wood pulp paper, which translates into less energy used in manufacturing processes, and less toxic pollution entering the environment.

In any event, Oregon should explore every avenue and pursue every means possible in its quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt global warming. Any action taken that also reduces or eliminates other types of environmental pollution is to be commended, and encouraged.

Oregon is at a crossroads, of sorts. Our state can seize the initiative and lead the country in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and combating global warming, or it can follow the lead of others whose methods and decisions may be less wise or less effective. Oregon has a unique opportunity to create for itself a sustainable culture based on a sustainable economy. Oregon has the chance to become the world’s poster child for environmental sanity, and I urge Oregon’s leaders not to forfeit this opportunity, nor to squander it.


Phil Hanson

While I'm neither naive enough nor vain enough to believe my letter played any part in influencing Oregon House members to pass HB 676, I do see passage of the bill as vindication; it's nice to know that I was ahead of the curve on this one.

Fri, 07/03/2009 - 2:38pm Permalink
Hobie (not verified)

I urge everyone to write to their congressional representative to urge them to support H.R. 1866: The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009. see:

Also, I believe it's the case that Obama's admin won't prosecute federal drug laws if there's no state law infraction. If this is so, couldn't the other states which have liberated Industrial Hemp begin to cultivate and process this miracle plant?

Fri, 07/10/2009 - 8:52pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Hobie (not verified)

I may be jumping the gun here, but I thought that the states who have already passed laws for growing industrial hemp will finally be innacted this next spring do to the new Supreme Court ruling "San Diego vs. California". What I got out of it was that as in the case concerning medical marijuana, Federal Law no longer overides state law. In other words, "the feds can no longer mess with the medical marijuana patients, state laws overide federal laws when it comes to the plant Cannabis Sativa. So, this should also apply to our current laws for farming hemp. Don't you thinq...

Sat, 07/18/2009 - 2:57am Permalink
Rycke Brown (not verified)

I have been pushing a Resolution Regarding Marijuana to the Josephine County Commissioners since May 20th, 2009. I am asking them to ask the legislature to pass the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, which would allow the state to: sell medical-grade marijuana in state liquor stores and pharmacies; license commercial growers and processors; and would allow people to grow their own at home without license. The last is implicit in the bill, which replaces all state marijuana laws and only contains penalties for unlicensed growing for sale and unlicensed sales and sale to minors; I ask also for suitable amendment for explicit allowance for personal use and explicit limits on personal production.

I've been giving a 3-minute speech on the subject nearly every week since I introduced the Resolution, going over the reasons within the Resolution. The first three speeches dealt with the first reason; that the Bible says we can use any seed-bearing herb, and Jesus made all things pure. I am now on speech 12; you may obtain copies by e-mailing [email protected]. Video of nearly all the speeches can be seen at, the County Commissioner's website video page, which has video of nearly all the meetings for the last year. Anyone is welcome to edit and post these speeches to the Web.

On speech 8, there was a breakthrough of sorts; a gentleman actually got up and asked the sheriff to arrest me, for admitting to buying illegal drugs and promoting the use of the same. Nothing happened, although the Sheriff was seated 6 feet behind us as we spoke, and I had indeed admitted to illegal conduct. I used this incident in the next two speeches, pointing out that if they would not enforce the law, they should ask the legislature to repeal it, out of respect for law; and that if they would not enforce pot possession laws against me, they can't enforce them against anyone else.

The Resolution follows in the next comment:

Wed, 08/19/2009 - 10:47am Permalink
Rycke Brown (not verified)

A Resolution Regarding Marijuana

Read May 27th, 2009 to the Josephine County Commissioners. Posted on
Video available at

WHEREAS the people of Josephine County find that they have a natural right to every seed-bearing herb, recognized in Genesis Chapter 1, as well as by Jesus and the apostles Peter and Paul; and

WHEREAS this right has been violated by our federal and state governments through prohibition of cannabis, otherwise known as hemp and marijuana; and

WHEREAS this prohibition is more suitable for Mormons than for a Christian nation or a nation with freedom of religion; and

WHEREAS our law enforcement resources are being wasted on enforcing said prohibition, rather than laws that properly secure rights; and

WHEREAS cannabis prohibition, combined with laws against dealing to minors, has caused it to be easier for children to obtain marijuana that adults, and adults to commonly buy it from teenagers; and

WHEREAS unlicensed marijuana users are forced to pay black market prices for their herb, providing high profits for criminals and reducing money available to spend on legitimate products and services; and

WHEREAS medical marijuana statutes create a privilege based on ill health; and

WHEREAS medical marijuana statutes create plentiful opportunities for illicit profit by privileged card holders and their growers, fraud and theft against card holders, and confusion among law enforcement personnel; and

WHEREAS great quantities of illicit marijuana are being grown in our national forests; and

WHEREAS Josephine County’s farmers could make money growing marijuana and hemp and making hemp products on their own land; and

WHEREAS many of Josephine County’s marijuana users could grow their own marijuana, freeing up their money to spend on other products and services; and

WHEREAS there is no reason to treat marijuana and its users any more harshly than alcohol and its users; and

WHEREAS federal laws regarding marijuana and other drugs violate the 10th Amendment, usurping powers reserved to the states and the people; and

WHEREAS the marijuana black markets in neighboring states make it unwise for Oregon to immediately recognize the rights of Oregon citizens to freely grow and sell marijuana without license or limits; and

WHEREAS the state of Oregon could take in a lot of revenue by selling marijuana through our state liquor stores, rather than spending it on enforcing bad laws;

THEREFORE be it resolved that the Josephine County Board of Commissioners supports the passage by the legislature of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, circulated for the ballot in 2008 as Measure 28, with suitable amendment to explicitly allow growing for personal use and to place a specific quantity limit on growing marijuana not for sale.

This Board further resolves to support efforts in other states to liberalize their marijuana laws and to repeal federal laws regarding marijuana.

Wed, 08/19/2009 - 10:52am Permalink

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