Lawmakers to Vote on Hemp Amendment to Farm Bill

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 5, 2013

    It is possible that, for the first time ever, the United States Senate will vote to approve industrial hemp cultivation in the coming days. Please take a moment of your time to encourage your Senator to support this measure. You can easily do so by clicking here.

    Senator Ron Wyden has introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 954, the Senate version of this year’s federal farm bill, that requires the federal government to respect state laws allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only trace (less than one percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.

    The amendment language mimics the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013,” which remains pending as stand-alone legislation in both the House and Senate but has yet to receive a legislative hearing. Senator Wyden’s provision to the Senate’s Farm Bill amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. The measure grants state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity.

    “For me, what’s important is that people see, particularly in our state, there’s someone buying it at Costco in Oregon,” Senator Wyden previously stated in support of this Act, “I adopted what I think is a modest position, which is if you can buy it at a store in Oregon, our farmers ought to be able to make some money growing it.”

    Eight states – Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia – have enacted statutory changes defining industrial hemp as distinct agricultural product and allowing for its regulated commercial production. Passage of this amendment would remove existing federal barriers and allow these states and others the authority to do so without running afoul of federal anti-drug laws.

    Senator Wyden’s amendment is co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has also expressed his support for this proposal.

    According to a Congressional Research Service report, “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.”

    It is likely that the Senate will vote on the hemp amendment in the coming days, so it is imperative that you contact your Senator and urge them to stand with Senator Wyden and support this important proposal. You can click here to easily contact your Senator and urge him or her to stand with America’s farmers and legalize industrial hemp.

    [6/7/13 UPDATE: UNFORTUNATELY, SENATORS ULTIMATELY REJECTED INCLUDING THIS LANGUAGE IN THE SENATE FARM BILL. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS HAS THE STORY HERE: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2013/jun/07/kentuckys-senators-blocked-effort-legalize-hemp/.]

    31 responses to “Lawmakers to Vote on Hemp Amendment to Farm Bill”

    1. Legalize, regulate, tax, pot. NOW

    2. Bridgette Berkes says:

      Hemp for victory!

    3. john says:

      Did you know that growing marijuana in China is legal? Hmmm they seem to be doing quite well these days.

    4. Robert says:

      “Did you know that growing marijuana in China is legal? Hmmm they seem to be doing quite well these days.” Nothing in the entire universe can describe how dumb what you just said was.

    5. Chris in WI says:

      This is the real test, marijuana is illegal because of hemp, not the other way around…

    6. Sean says:

      “This is the real test, marijuana is illegal because of hemp, not the other way around…”

      Anslinger and Hearst used the mexican word marijuana to confuse the public about the cannabis plant. Hemp is illegal because of the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act of 1937, which effectively put an exorbitant tax on the cannabis species, which includes both hemp and marijuana.

    7. david evans says:

      legalize now, not a drug but an herb. let’s help the farmers out and in return we get a plant that can do so much in every field of work there is

    8. Kris says:

      We just need the federal gov’t to give our states their rights back.

    9. TheOracle says:

      There a capwiz thing for this?

      Still don’t mean cannabis for recreational purposes will be ought of the way federally.

      Does passing this look like it will allow the trade in seeds? I’m thinking, there is no way to tell the potency of a seed’s genetics without destroying it so seed selling would be legal. Farmers planting the low-THC industrial hemp will buy it from businesses, so it’ll have to be legal to trade in seeds. So, Canada spreads to the U.S. that way, the policy spreads. I’ll take that little nudge a bit closer to the legalization end of the cannabis continuum.

      NORML, thank you.

    10. TheOracle says:

      I just read on HuffPost that it’s running into stiff law enforcement opposition. Why do the cops get to tell them what to do? Will they do what the cops tell them to do? Yup, just like before. I’ll shit a brick (of Nederhasj) if they pass it.