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Press Release: Farmers, Hemp Industry Leaders Arrested for Planting Industrial Hemp at DEA Headquarters


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
October 13, 2009

CONTACT:    Ryan Fletcher 202-641-0277 [email protected]
                  Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671 [email protected]


Farmers, Hemp Industry Leaders Arrested for Planting Industrial Hemp at DEA Headquarters in Act of Civil Disobedience to Protest 'Reefer Madness'



Fed Up Captains of Hemp Industry Plant Hemp Seed on DEA's Lawn with Ceremonial Shovels

DEA's Continued Blockade of State Industrial Hemp Programs Violates Common Sense as well as Obama's Presidential Directive to Federal Agencies to Respect States' Rights


WASHINGTON, DC - At approximately 10am this morning, North Dakota farmer Wayne Hauge, Vermont farmer Will Allen, and fed up American entrepreneurs, who have dedicated their livelihoods to developing and marketing healthy, environmentally-friendly hemp products, for the first time turned to public civil disobedience with the planting of industrial hemp seed at DEA headquarters (700 Army Navy Dr Arlington, VA 22202) to protest the ban on hemp farming in the United States. Even though the U.S. is the largest market for hemp products in the world, and industrial hemp is farmed throughout Europe, Asia and Canada, not a single American farmer has the right to grow the versatile crop which is used for food, clothing, body care, paper, building materials, auto paneling and more.


Hoping to focus the attention of the Obama Administration on halting DEA interference, North Dakota Farmer Wayne Hauge; Founder of Cedar Circle Organic Farm in Vermont Will Allen; Hemp Industries Association (HIA) President Steve Levine; Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps President David Bronner; Vote Hemp Communications Director Adam Eidinger and Founder of Livity Outernational Hemp Clothing, Issac Nichelson were arrested while digging up the DEA's lawn to plant industrial hemp seed imported from Canada. At this time, they are currently being held in Arlington County jail and are awaiting charges. They are expected to be released later this afternoon and will be available for interviews upon release. The six protesters planted hemp seeds with ceremonial chrome shovels engraved with:



Hemp Planting Oct. 2009 ~ DEA Headquarters ~ American Farmers Shall Grow Hemp Again ~ Reefer Madness Will Be Buried


Mr. Hauge is licensed by North Dakota to cultivate and process non-drug industrial hemp, just as Canadian farmers across the border have done profitably for over ten years supplying the booming U.S. market. However, the DEA refuses to distinguish non-drug industrial hemp cultivars grown for millennia for seed and fiber and has unconstitutionally blocked all state hemp programs such as North Dakota's. Mr. Hauge, along with North Dakota State Rep. David Monson, sued the DEA in the U.S. District Court of North Dakota in 2007, and the case is currently before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  "In recent years there has been strong growth in demand for hemp in the U.S., but the American farmer is being left out while Canadian, European and Chinese farmers fill the void created by outdated federal policy," said fourth-generation farmer Hauge. "When hemp is legalized, land grant universities across the nation will develop cultivars suitable to different growing regions to enhance yield and explore innovative uses such as cellulosic ethanol." 

Pictures and video of the action for free and unrestricted use, along with hemp farming footage and background information are available upon request in hardcopy and online. An HIA produced video of the action will also be posted, after 6pm on 10/13 at: www.votehemp.com/DEAhempplanting.html

In the back drop of the spectacle at DEA headquarters, dozens of hemp business owners in town attending the HIA convention over the weekend fanned out across Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers in support of hemp legislation introduced by Representatives Ron Paul (R-TX) and Barney Frank (D-MA) that would permit states to cultivate non-drug industrial hemp under state industrial hemp programs.  Nine states have such programs, but their implementation has been blocked by DEA bureaucratic intransigence.  This spring, however, President Obama instructed federal agencies to respect state laws in a presidential directive on federal pre-emption:

"Executive departments and agencies should be mindful that in our federal system, the citizens of the several States have distinctive circumstances and values, and that in many instances it is appropriate for them to apply to themselves rules and principles that reflect these circumstances and values.  As Justice Brandeis explained more than 70 years ago, 'it is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.'"
- Source: www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential-Memorandum-Regarding-Preemption/

Vote Hemp and the HIA are dedicated to a free market for low-THC industrial hemp and to changes in current policy to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow this agricultural crop.  Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps President and Vote Hemp Director David Bronner stated: "Dr. Bronner's has grown into the leading natural soap brand in the U.S. since incorporating hemp oil in 1999, due in significant part to the unsurpassed smoothness it gives our soaps. As an American business, we want to give our money to American farmers and save on import and freight costs. In this difficult economy, we can no longer indulge the DEA's self-serving hemp hysteria."


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Location: 
Arlington, VA
United States

Feature: NORML Annual Conference Meets in Atmosphere of Hope, Determination, and Exhilaration

Riding a wave of enthusiasm about increasing prospects for marijuana law reform, hundreds of people poured into the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown San Francisco last Thursday for the 38th annual national conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). By the time it ended with a Saturday night NORML benefit, the conference had left most attendees even more energized than when they arrived.

Gathering under the slogan "Yes, We Cannabis" and sensing a fresh breeze blowing since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, conference organizers, speakers, and attendees spent three days in sessions devoted to medical marijuana issues, the prospects for legalization in California (and beyond), the change in public attitudes around marijuana, what parents should tell kids about pot, and much, much more.

The conference was California-centric, but understandably so. Not only was a California city the host for the conference, the Golden State's constantly mutating medical marijuana industry is creating an omnipresent and accessible distribution system, and California is now the home of four competing marijuana legalization initiative campaigns and a similar effort in the state legislature.

In between (and sometimes during) sessions, the pungent odor of pot smoke hung in the air over the Hyatt's outdoor patio as patients medicated and non-patients just plain got high. Hippie attire abounded, but in contrast to the stoner stereotypes, there were plenty of people in suits and ties toking away, too.

At least three newsworthy items came out of the conference:

  • At a Saturday press conference, Oaksterdam University head Richard Lee, the leading proponent of the legalization initiative most likely to actually make the November 2010 ballot -- because it has Lee's financial backing -- announced the formal beginning of signature gathering for the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act, which would allow California cities and counties the local option to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and a 25-square foot garden. Accompanied by former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, "Marijuana Is Safer" author Mason Tvert, and fellow initiative proponent Jeff Jones, Lee also announced the measure's endorsement by former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who is running for mayor of Oakland.
  • State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF), author of Assembly Bill 390, which would legalize the possession, growing, and sale of marijuana for people 21 or over, announced Friday that he will hold an informational hearing on his bill. The date is tentatively set for October 28 at the capitol in Sacramento. The current political climate has created a "perfect storm" for marijuana law reform, he said. "It's certainly connected to California's economy, which is in the toilet," he added.
  • Oakland City Council member and medical marijuana supporter Rebecca Kaplan (D) announced Saturday that the city is preparing to issue permits for medical marijuana growing and processing operations and for medical marijuana edibles production. The city already has issued permits to four dispensaries, and voters there this summer approved a dispensary-led initiative to add a special medical marijuana tax on them. "We gave permits for a federal felony for the dispensaries, and they didn't bust them -- even under Bush," she said. "We protected them." And now, Oakland is set to expand those protections to other sectors of the industry.

"There is no doubt that today, Sept. 25, 2009, is the moment of genuine zeitgeist to decriminalizing marijuana in America," said NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre as the conference opened. "This conference represents that we are at that tipping point."

But where the movement goes from here was open to heated and healthy debate. Thursday's sessions, which were devoted primarily to the intricacies of medical marijuana dispensing in California, saw detailed discussion of the minutiae of defining collectives and co-ops and operating within state law and the state attorney general's guidelines, but they also saw calls from some leading voices warning about the medicalization of marijuana.

Dr. Frank Lucido, a leading medical marijuana advocate, while lauding the work of the medical marijuana movement, said the weed should really be treated like an over-the-counter herbal supplement. "This should be out of the hands of doctors and in the hands of herbalists," he argued.

Similarly, Steven DeAngelo of the Harborside Health Center, an Oakland dispensary, pointed out that California's medical marijuana distribution system is creating a situation where "cannabis consumption is part of the mainstream." In a speech delivered at the conference, he argued that effective medical marijuana laws are paving the way for a day where medical recommendations are not required to obtain cannabis legally. "Most over-the-counter drugs are far more harmful than marijuana, but there are no restrictions on them," he said. "Let's not waste medical resources on something that doesn't require them."

But the most heated debates were around what is the best path toward outright legalization in California. With several initiatives and an assembly bill all in play, opinion was deeply divided on whether to wait for the legislative process to work its way, to support the Oaksterdam initiative -- which was almost universally considered the most conservative of the initiatives, but which also has the best chance of making the ballot -- or to support one of the competing initiatives.

Joe Rogosin, one of three Northern California defense attorneys who authored the California Cannabis Initiative, admitted that his initiative lacked the deep pockets of the Oaksterdam initiative, but argued that it was still superior to the Oakland effort. It repeals all state laws forbidding people 21 and over from possessing, growing, or selling marijuana.

"We don't want people to go to jail for cannabis," Rogosin said. "Unlike Richard's, our initiative actually legalizes cannabis."

While contending camps were fighting over who had the best initiative, other movement members were warning that none of them were likely to pass. Marijuana Policy Project executive director Rob Kampia said that his group would not be devoting substantial resources to the initiatives and would not formally endorse them, but would render what low-budget aid it could if one of them actually makes the ballot.

California NORML head Dale Gieringer was blunt in his assessment of the measures' chances. "I don't expect any of them to pass," he said flatly.

As always, California pot politics is in turmoil, and while circular firing squads are not quite forming, the movement is in danger of shooting itself in the foot if it fails to get behind an initiative that makes the ballot -- or if it does get behind an initiative and that initiative loses badly at the ballot box.

There was, of course, much more going on at the NORML conference. Check out the NORML web site for updates with conference content. And keep an eye on California, because marijuana reform is one hot topic there now.

Bison Will Eat Marijuana Grown on Contaminated Chemical Weapons Site

Aaron Houston at MPP is supposed to be this badass lobbyist (I heard he could recognize every single member of Congress and he even got to be on The Colbert Report), but the story tips he sends me are never anything important. It's always some crazy stuff like this:

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS) Military marijuana? The U.S. Army planned to cover a chemical weapons site with grass and weed – but not the kind of grass and weed that's actually cropping up – the kind that's illegal.

The military blames the supplier for the snafu, saying the mulch for ground cover was purchased from a place in Kansas where the low-grade weed is common.

The Army made the first discovery of hemp on the property in June. So far they've picked about 100 plants that Scharmin says are low-grade. He says they plan to mow, burn or maybe even have bison eat the rest.

"Fish and Wildlife Service does not seem to have any concern about having bison out there," Scharmin says.

This sounds like a horrible place. The soil is contaminated from chemical weapons testing. They have bison (which are not cows. They will kick your ass). And there's free weed, but it sucks.

It's like the island from Lost. They should do a movie about this, where some hippies hear there's pot growing on a secret army base, so they sneak in there and then get terrorized by insane radioactive buffaloes that get you stoned when they burp.

Ooops!! Police Destroy Legal Hemp Field

Another problem with having laws against certain types of plants is that police don't know anything about plants. The subtleties of botany are inevitably lost on them and the results are amusing, yet tragic:
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch police who mowed down what they thought were illicit marijuana plants were red-faced today when it emerged they’d ruined a research group’s giant, officially sanctioned field of harmless hemp.Police proudly announced Wednesday that they’d found more than 47,000 cannabis plants, with an estimated street value of nearly €4.5 million ($6.45 million) concealed in a corn field in the Flevoland province east of Amsterdam.They mowed down half the plants only to be informed they were the property of Wageningen University and Research Center, a respected agricultural school. [Boston Herald]
That sucks. Sadly, I suspect that the potential for fiascos like this goes a long way towards explaining why law enforcement continues to incoherently oppose hemp cultivation here in the U.S. Police just don't want to be bothered with distinguishing one from the other. If it looks like weed, they'd rather break out a machete than a field manual. It's understandable if you don’t care about, like, freedom and stuff.

Instead of banning hemp, therefore, I propose we just legalize all forms of cannabis and make things a lot easier for everyone.

Feature: Seattle Hempfest Bigger Than Ever in 2009, But Gaining Critics

Somewhere around 300,000 people converged on the Seattle waterfront Saturday and Sunday to attend the 19th annual Seattle Hempfest, the world's largest marijuana "protestival," as organizers like to call it. While organizers and drug reform advocates were out in force to encourage attendees to get involved in changing the marijuana laws, for most of the crowd, Hempfest was one big pot party. And that has some movement critics unhappy.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/hempfest2009-1.jpg
Hempfest crowd
Last year's attendance was estimated at 310,000. While figures are not yet in for last weekend's event, given the huge crowds, it is likely this year's figure will be even higher.

With hundreds of vendors selling glass pipes, bongs, tie-dyes, and assorted other pot-related paraphernalia, as well as dozens of food vendors, with seven stages alternating musical acts with activist speakers, and with crowds so thick that people literally could not move at some points by mid-afternoon on both days, Hempfest seems more like a dense urban community than a festival. And like any urban community, Hempfest had a police presence, but as far as can be determined, police couldn't find anyone to arrest despite the ever-present scent of marijuana smoke in the air.

That's in part because Seattleites voted in 2003 to make adult marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. But it is also in part because, unlike some other police forces, the Seattle police actually acknowledge and heed the will of the voters. In all of last year, Seattle police arrested only 133 people for marijuana possession -- and those were all people who had already been detained on other charges.

It is that tolerant attitude toward marijuana that makes the massive law-breaking at Hempfest possible. In almost any other city in the US, such brazen defiance of the drug laws would almost certainly result in mass arrests. Even this weekend's Boston Freedom Rally, the second largest pro-marijuana event in the country, will see numerous arrests -- if police behavior in the past is any indicator.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/hempfest2009-3.jpg
Hempfest-targeted sky ad, pulled by helicopter
Drug reform organizations including NORML, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and StoptheDrugWar.org (publisher of this newsletter) were present with booths or tables, as were numerous medical marijuana support groups. But those booths and tables had to compete with bong-sellers and pipe-makers, t-shirt vendors and hippie couture outlets, and the hundreds of other vendors cashing in on the crowds.

To really get the drug reform message out, Hempfest organizers and reform activists took to the various stages between acts to exhort audiences to make Hempfest a party with a purpose. Among the nationally known activists speechifying at Hempfest were "Radical Russ" Belville of NORML, Sandee Burbank of Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse, Mike and Valerie Corral of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), Debbie Goldsberry of the Berkeley Patients Group, Washington state legislator and head of the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers Roger Goodman, medical marijuana specialist Dr. Frank Lucido, former medical marijuana prisoner Todd McCormick, cannabis scientist Dr. Robert Melamede, and NORML founder Keith Stroup and current executive director Allen St. Pierre. For a complete list of speakers, go here.

Activists also educated those interested in learning more about marijuana law reform and related topics at the Hemposium tent, which featured panels on "Human Rights for Cannabis Farmers, Dispensers and Consumers," "Global Hempenomics," "Cannabliss: An Entheogen for the Ages," "Cannabis and the Culture Wars: The Coming Truce," and "Cannabis Coverage: Reefer Sanity for the 21st Century." For a complete list of Hemposium panels, click here.

While Hempfest came off without any serious problems, it has sparked a couple of related controversies. This week, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation head Eric Sterling wrote a blog post, Hempfest is Huge, But is It Good Politics?, in which he answered his own question with a resounding "no." Hempfest and similar rallies are "a political fraud," he wrote. Even worse, they are "advertisements for irresponsible drug use."

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/hempfest2009-2.jpg
''Hemposium,'' with speakers (l-r): Reason's David Nott, SAFER's Mason Tvert, journalist Fred Gardner and Chronicle editor Phil Smith
Similarly, former Hempfest organizer Dominic Holden stirred the pot the week before Hempfest with an article in the Seattle Stranger, A Few Words About Hempfest, in which he complained it was a "patchouli-scented ghetto" and overly countercultural. Like Sterling, Holden saw the hippiesque trappings of Hempfest as counterproductive. "Countercultural celebrations and drug legalization advocacy are mutually undermining ambitions," he wrote.

Hempfest organizers were not amused, and on Sunday, Holden was removed from the back of the Main Stage by unhappy erstwhile comrades. They explained why in an interview with Steve Bloom's Celebstoner, and Holden continued the spat with his own interview.

Perhaps the organizers of Hempfest and similar events will listen to Sterling and Holden, but probably not. Hempfest is a celebration of the pot-smoking counterculture, and it's not likely to go away or change its ways because a guy in a suit and a disaffected former friend are unhappy with how it operates. Straight-laced drug reformers will most likely just have to put up with Hempfest and its pot-happy ilk. They can treat it like the crazy aunt in the attic, but they can't get rid of it.

Press Release: Hemp Companies Living Harvest and Nutiva Named to Inc. 500|5000 List

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 17, 2009 CONTACT: Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671 or [email protected], Tom Murphy at 207-542-4998 or [email protected] Living Harvest and Nutiva Named to Inc. 500|5000 List HIA Member Companies Rank Well in Food & Beverage Category WASHINGTON, DC – The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a trade association made up of hundreds of hemp businesses, is pleased that Living Harvest Foods and Nutiva, both companies are full business members of the HIA, have been named to Inc. Magazine’s 500|5000 List. Living Harvest Foods of Portland, OR was ranked No. 961 on the over all list with 318.2% growth and 2008 revenue of $4.4 million and was ranked No. 20 in the Food & Beverage category. Santa Paula, CA based Nutiva was ranked No. 2,174 on the over all list with 145.2% growth and 2008 revenue of $6.5 million and was ranked No. 52 in the Food & Beverage category. Founded in 2002, Living Harvest became industry pioneers with the launch of the world’s first protein powder and stayed ahead of the curve with the subsequent launches of the first whole food blends in 2005 and the world’s first Hempmilk in 2007. In 2009, Living Harvest added Tempt, the first line of non-dairy frozen desserts made with Hempmilk in the United States, to their growing repertoire of hemp foods. “Pioneering a variety of hemp foods over the years and launching innovative new products such as our Tempt Hempmilk and frozen dessert line is the key to our exceptional growth,” said Hans Fastre, CEO of Living Harvest Foods. “Our placement on the list of fastest growing companies in the U.S., as well our placement as the number 20 food and beverage company, is a testimony to the future of hemp foods.” Founded in 1999 by John W. Roulac, Nutiva is America’s number one brand of nutritious organic hemp foods and extra-virgin coconut oil. Nutiva is dedicated to a healthy and sustainable world, demonstrating its mission to nourish people and planet by using nourishing organic ingredients, enriching the soil, and supporting worthy causes. “Nutiva’s vision is to replace our country’s overreliance on corn, soy, and dairy products with healthier hemp and coconut superfoods,” explains Roulac. “Nutiva is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month and we are proud to be named one of the fastest growing companies in America by Inc. Magazine.” Earlier this year the HIA released final estimates of the size of the U.S. retail market for hemp food and body care products in 2008. Data supporting the estimates show that retail sales of hemp food and body care products in the U.S. have continued to set records in 2008. Strong sales of popular hemp items like non-dairy milk, shelled hemp seed, soaps and lotions have occurred against the backdrop of state-licensed hemp farmers in North Dakota fighting a high stakes legal battle against the DEA to grow hemp for U.S. manufacturers. “The HIA is confident that the total North American hemp food and body care market over the last year accounted for $100-120 million in retail sales,” comments Eric Steenstra, HIA Executive Director. “We expect double-digit growth of the hemp food sector to continue in 2009, as consumer interest about green healthy products grows,” says Steenstra. # # # The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) represents the interests of the hemp industry and encourages the research and development of new hemp products. More information about hemp’s many uses and hemp advocacy may be found at www.HempIndustries.org and www.VoteHemp.com. DVD Video News Release featuring footage of hemp farming in other countries is available upon request by contacting Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671.

Hemp: Oregon Governor Signs Farming Bill Into Law

Oregon became the 17th state to pass legislation favorable to hemp farming and the ninth state to remove legal barriers to farming the potentially lucrative crop as Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) last week signed into law SB 676, an industrial hemp act sponsored by state Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D). The bill removes all state legal obstacles to growing hemp for food, fiber, and other industrial purposes. Industrial hemp production remains prohibited under federal law.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/votehemp1.jpg
hemp plants (Luke Zigovitz for votehemp.com)
The bill passed the House by a vote of 46-11 and the Senate by an overwhelming margin of 27-2. It sets up a state-regulated program for farmers to grow hemp.

"I am glad that Oregon has joined the other states that have agreed that American farmers should have the right to reintroduce industrial hemp as an agricultural crop," said 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."

"Oregon's federal delegation can now take this law to the US 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," said Patrick Goggin, director of the industry lobbying group Vote Hemp. "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 US for over fifty years because of a politicized and misguided interpretation of the nation's drug laws by the DEA."

Hemp is a member of the cannabis family, but is distinguished from smokeable marijuana by its low THC content and its lanky, fibrous appearance. The Oregon law specifies that industrial hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC. So does pending federal legislation, HR 1866, sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), which would remove low-THC hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and thus the DEA's domain.

According to the industry trade group the Hemp Industries Association, annual retail sales for hemp products in the last year were approximately $360 million. Because of the DEA ban on domestic hemp production, every ounce of hemp used in those products had to be imported.

The eight other states that have removed barriers to hemp production or research are Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia. Oregon joins North Dakota as the only states that do not require farmers to obtain federal permits from the DEA to grow hemp.

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 [email protected], Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671 or [email protected] 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 [email protected] or Adam Eidinger at  202-744-2671 or [email protected]

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.

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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.

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