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 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.
Statement of Congressman Ron Paul
United States House of Representatives
Statement Introducing HR 1866, Industrial Hemp Farming Act
April 2, 2009
Madam Speaker, I rise to introduce the Industrial Hemp Farming Act. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act requires the federal government to respect state laws allowing the growing of industrial hemp.
Eight States–Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia–allow industrial hemp production or research in accord with state laws. However, federal law is standing in the way of farmers in these states growing what may be a very profitable crop. Because of current federal law, all hemp included in products sold in the United States must be imported instead of being grown by American farmers.
Since 1970, the federal Controlled Substances Act’s inclusion of industrial hemp in the schedule one definition of marijuana has prohibited American farmers from growing industrial hemp despite the fact that industrial hemp has such a low content of THC (the psychoactive chemical in the related marijuana plant) that nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming hemp. Federal law concedes the safety of industrial hemp by allowing it to be legally imported for use as food.
The United States is the only industrialized nation that prohibits industrial hemp cultivation. The Congressional Research Service has noted that hemp is grown as an established agricultural commodity in over 30 nations in Europe, Asia, North America, and South America. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act will relieve this unique restriction on American farmers and allow them to grow industrial hemp in accord with state law.
Industrial hemp is a crop that was grown legally throughout the United States for most of our nation’s history. In fact, during World War II, the federal government actively encouraged American farmers to grow industrial hemp to help the war effort. The Department of Agriculture even produced a film “Hemp for Victory” encouraging the plant’s cultivation.
In recent years, the hemp plant has been put to many popular uses in foods and in industry. Grocery stores sell hemp seeds and oil as well as food products containing oil and seeds from the hemp plant. Industrial hemp is also included in consumer products such as paper, cloths, cosmetics, and carpet. One of the more innovative recent uses of industrial hemp is in the door frames of about 1.5 million cars. Hemp has even been used in alternative automobile fuel.
It is unfortunate that the federal government has stood in the way of American farmers, including many who are struggling to make ends meet, competing in the global industrial hemp market. 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.