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First Hemp Legislation to Pass in Congress in Over Fifty Years!

Courtesy of Vote Hemp (votehemp.com)

Bipartisan Hemp Research Amendment Part of House Farm Bill

Vote Hemp is very excited to report that a bipartisan amendment to legalize hemp production for university research was included in the Farm Bill which passed the House last Thursday. This is another big step forward and it could not have happened without your help and generous support.Introduced by Representatives Polis (D-CO), Massie (R-KY) and Blumenauer (D-OR), the hemp amendment was passed separately by a vote of 225 to 200 on a previous unsuccessful version of the House Farm Bill. All farm-related amendments which had passed previously were included in a new version of the House Farm Bill, which was then passed by the House on a 216 to 208 floor vote. The amendment allows colleges and universities to grow hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes without a DEA license, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law. This amendment is the first hemp legislation to pass in Congress, or to even be voted on, in over fifty years.

July 12, 2013 Update

courtesy of votehemp.com

CONTACT: Lauren Stansbury 202-518-8790
lauren@mintwood.com

Tom Murphy 207-542-4998
tom@votehemp.com

Farm Bill With Amendment to Allow Industrial Hemp Research Passes House in 216 to 208 Floor Vote
Amendment Marks First Hemp Legislation to Pass in Congress in Over Fifty Years

WASHINGTON, DC Vote Hemp, the nation's leading hemp grassroots advocacy organization, working to revitalize industrial hemp production in the U.S., is excited to report that an amendment to legalize hemp production for research purposes was included in H.R. 2642, better known as the Farm Bill, passed the House by a vote of 216 to 208 yesterday afternoon. Introduced by Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and passed by a vote of 225 to 200 on a previous unsuccessful version of the Farm Bill, the hemp amendment survived and is part of the House version this time around. The amendment allows colleges and universities to grow hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes, but applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law. The full text of the bill may be found at http://VoteHemp.com/legislation.

"Although I strongly opposed the Republican Farm Bill, I was pleased to see that the bipartisan amendment that I offered with Representatives Blumenauer and Massie was included in the final bill that passed the House of Representatives today," said Rep. Polis. "This commonsense amendment will allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes in states where industrial hemp cultivation is already legal. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that this language becomes law."

"This amendment is a small but fundamental change in the laws that hopefully will one day allow Kentucky farmers to grow industrial hemp again," said Rep. Massie. "It's our goal that the research this amendment enables would further broadcast the economic benefits of the sustainable and job-creating crop. I look forward to working with Rep. Polis and Rep. Blumenauer on this issue."

So far in the 2013 legislative season, industrial hemp legislation has been introduced in twenty states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. The full text of these states' hemp bills may also be found at http://VoteHemp.com/legislation.

"With the U.S. hemp industry estimated at over $500 million in annual retail sales and growing, a change in federal law to allow for colleges and universities to grow hemp for research would mean that we will finally begin to regain the knowledge that unfortunately has been lost over the past fifty years," says Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra.

In addition to the Farm Bill amendment, two standalone industrial hemp bills have been introduced in the 113th Congress so far. H.R. 525, the "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013," was introduced in the U.S. House on February 6, 2013. The companion bill, S. 359, was introduced in the U.S. Senate soon thereafter on February 14, 2013. The bills define industrial hemp, exclude it from the definition of "marihuana" in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and give states the exclusive authority to regulate the growing and processing of the crop under state law. If passed, the bills would remove federal restrictions on the domestic cultivation of industrial hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis. The full text of the bills, as well as their status and co-sponsors, can also be found at http://VoteHemp.com/legislation.

To date, thirty-one states have introduced pro-hemp legislation and nineteen have passed pro-hemp legislation. Nine states (Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia) have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. Three states (Hawaii, Kentucky and Maryland) have passed bills creating commissions or authorizing research. Nine states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont and Virginia) have passed resolutions. And eight states (Arkansas, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota and Vermont) have passed study bills. However, despite state authorization to grow hemp, farmers in those states still risk raids by federal agents, prison time, and property and civil asset forfeiture if they plant the crop, due to the failure of federal policy to distinguish non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis (i.e., industrial hemp) from psychoactive drug varieties (i.e., "marihuana").

Ron Paul and Barney Frank Introduce Hemp Farming Legislation HR 1866 By tmartin April 3, 2009 from the ronpaul.com website:

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 hemps 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 Acts 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 crops 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 Acts 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 plants 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.