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California Hemp Bill Awaits Governor's Signature

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #700)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

A bill that would allow farmers in four California counties to grow industrial hemp has passed the state legislature and now sits on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown (D) awaiting his signature. The bill, Senate Bill 676, the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, passed the Senate earlier this year, then passed the Assembly last week.

Hemp field at sunrise. Will California farmers be able to enjoy its fruits? (
Sponsored by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the bill would allow farmers in those counties to grow industrial hemp for the legal sale of hemp seed, oil, and fiber to manufacturers. The bill specifies that hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and farmers must submit their crops to testing before it goes to market.

The eight-year pilot program would end in 2020, but not before the California attorney general would issue a report on law enforcement impact and the Hemp Industries Association would issue a report on its economic impact.

"California is one step closer to building a successful hemp industry in the Central Valley," said Leno after the Assembly approved the bill on a vote of 49-22 on September 7. The Senate gave its final approval to Assembly amendments the following day.

While hemp bills have passed the state legislature previously, SB 676 is the furthest reaching yet and managed to pick up support from businesses, farming groups, local government, labor, even law enforcement. Supporters ranged from the California Grange and the California Certified Organic Growers to the United Food and Commercial Workers to the Kern County Board of Supervisors and the Kern and King county sheriffs, both of whom wrote letters of support in favor of the bill.

"Hemp is a versatile cash and rotation crop with steadily rising sales as an organic food and body care ingredient. Today, more than 30 industrialized nations grow industrial hemp and export it to the US. Hemp is the only crop that is illegal to grow yet legal for Americans to import," explained Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp and executive director of the Hemp Industries Association.

The US hemp market is now estimated to be about $420 million in annual retail sales, but manufacturers must turn to foreign suppliers because the DEA, which refuses to differentiate between industrial hemp and recreational and medical marijuana, bars its cultivation here.

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.


jtarver (not verified)

This means Marijuana is once again a legal crop in California.  Hemp was grown in California from 1700 until Hearst made the Marijuana Crop illegal in order to confiscate the Llanos' land in California.  Prior to that time White Chicanos had the same rights as White Europeans in California; unlike their darker cousins.  This does put a dent in the Tulare County Judge's opinion that Marijuana is "not a crop"

Mon, 09/12/2011 - 10:13pm Permalink
Paul Pot (not verified)

This concept of the 0.3% is really sad and stupid. Most hemp is not good for smoking even when it is over the limit and some is despite what you've heard. But as the safest drug and food on the planet that doesn't matter. What does matter is that these restricted varieties that may be allowed by law will be just that restricted. Farmers will not have access to the many different strains of hemp that they need to ensure that they are growing the right strain for their climate or their chosen market. Some strains are for course rope some are for fine linen some are for their seed oil and butter and on it goes. 

This limit also introduces the possibility of GM strains of hemp being widely grown. Now that stuff is dangerous and should be banned. A huge cloud of GM hemp pollen drifting across the country could have serious consequences on people's health. And all the time and money wasted involving the police in the agricultural industry to test it is just ridiculous.
And don't they know that hemp is the hermaphrodite version of hemp and useless for drug purposes. If they really wanted to get rid of smoking pot they would have grown hemp everywhere and the escaping cloud of pollen would have ruined any nearby ganga grows.
Prohibition was only ever a pack of lies pushed on us by a bunch of igorant old men with anger management problems.
Tue, 09/13/2011 - 11:23pm Permalink
disgusted (not verified)

In reply to by Paul Pot (not verified)

Don't fear the GM cloud. When agribusiness can legally squeeze it into food then they will. Hemp and the marijuana we smoke/treat with are really incompatible and no one growing marijuana for the high/medicinal effect would attempt to grow in an industrial hemp area. The unobjective in law enforcement will not admit this, it would cut into the budget. Prohibition of cannabis is a huge money waster that is hurting myself and millions around the globe. Prohibition of a consumable can not, will not, and does not work. If anyone disagrees with this statement, then I ask for an instance where it was successful. Can anyone provide a reasonable way in which it could be regulated? The latter is much more realistic. We, the Anti-prohibitionists need to figure out a way to educate the people of the country of  the very real positives cannabis has to offer. Tell the truth enough times and the liars will crawl back under their rocks.

"The government's line is that the use of marihuana leads to dangerous drugs. The fact is the lack of marihuana leads to dangerous drugs." - Dr. David Smith, Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic

Wed, 09/14/2011 - 1:38pm Permalink
Baja K (not verified)

It is important to remember, and regularly mention, that hemp needs no pesticides or chlorine, and requires little water.   This is important for several reasons.

- Pesticide activists have a significant interest. They must be persuaded that this is integral to their cause and must not be ignored out of fear of being labeled "pot heads" or of being harassed by the feds.

- Workers' Rights groups...United Farm Workers, etc...must address the matter of how pesticide-free hemp agriculture presents zero threat of pesticide poisoning of workers.  Also, since hemp in the USA can have three or four growing seasons, and would open up currently non-viable farm land for hemp use, and since a farm job cannot be exported, jobs galore would be created.

- On the other hand, the pesticide-intensive Ag industry does NOT want the Good Example of hemp agriculture because it will shine a harsh light on their worker harming methods.   Also, pesticide-intensive farm industries do not exactly look forward to suits from (organic) hemp farmers for pesticide drift.

- Environmentalists need to put aside those same fears about name-calling and slurs about being "pro illegal drugs" or something. After all, hemp eliminates the pesticides, does nothing to harm wildlife, uses far less water than competing, very thirsty, acquifer-depleting cotton (a heavy pesticide using crop), and lowers the need for clearcutting forests to provide paper pulp and even building materials.    Also, by making more agricultural land viable, vast swaths of farm land could be saved from development.

- Animal rights groups need to address the points about pesticide-free crops not harming wildlife....not to mention hemp seed being just about the best bird feed.

- Recycling activists, even municipalities, need to become active to promote hemp because (biodegradable)  hemp plastics would not pollute and, being compostible, need not even enter the trash stream.

- Health Care activists need to become hemp activists because of the many health benefits of hemp...and because for-profit health insurers invest heavily in pesticides, chlorine, chemical-intensive agriculture, petrochemicals, and plastics, and so forth....a situation that creates a troubling Conflict Of issue that could be finally raised in a public hemp vs. toxic industrial substances debate.

-  And, Political Activists would be more familiarized with the still-existing corrupted corporatized system that created Reefer Madness probably with the top purpose of preventing public-domain hemp from competing with big oil, plastics, petrochems, pesticides, timber, cotton and other disasters.  The racist "marijuana" and "reefer" angles were just covers for the Anti-Hemp scheme.


Thu, 09/15/2011 - 8:10pm Permalink
PurpleFox33 (not verified)

The last three words of the article read  "bans its import".  This is clearly in error.  The DEA, in fact, will not allow the farming of industrial hemp.  Despite the fact that pretty much any IDIOT can easily distinguish the differences between the 2 ... (industrial) hemp and cannabis sativa.

So what should those last 3 words say?  I say, "bans agricultural farming of hemp"  Ok, it's 5 words, so put the period after "farming".

Fri, 09/16/2011 - 12:50am Permalink
Jack (not verified)

    Pull up your hemp pants ad smoke a joint. Get over it.   this hemp/pot issue is key to freedom. Hemp in thhe early colonies was deemed LEGAL TENDER (even penalties to NOT grow it).  So be it to compete with the MONEY MAKERS, BANKSTERS.   Perhaps we need to add the fact that Cannabis is a sacrament and we need to start realizing it.    Christ Be With You....What would Jesus say???

Fri, 09/16/2011 - 12:14pm Permalink

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