Yesterday, Feb 17th, 2014, the Washington State House voted unanimously to approve HB1888, the Hemp Freedom Act. The vote was 97-0.
Sponsored by Representative Matt Shea (R), along with Christopher Hurst (D), Cary Condotta (R), Jeff Holy (R), David Taylor (R) and Jason Overstreet (R), the Hemp Freedom Act would “permit the development in Washington of an industrial hemp industry,” effectively nullifying the de facto federal prohibition on the farming and production of hemp crops within the United States.
House Bill 1888 received unanimous support in the House and now heads to the Senate. The measure authorizes the director of the Department of Agriculture to issue licenses to grow industrial hemp. The department would be designated as the sole source and supplier of seeds used for industrial-hemp production. Hemp is used to make a variety of different products, including clothing, food, beauty products and biofuels.
Introduced in February 2013, HB1888 was first passed by a House committee nearly a year ago. Reintroduced by resolution for the short 2014 regular legislative session, it was sent to the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government & Information Technology for additional approval, where it passed 9-0 earlier this month.
Since the enactment of the unconstitutional federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.
Experts count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.
Last week, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.
Three states – Colorado, Oregon and Vermont – have already passed similar measures. Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities.
Industrial hemp is used for a wide variety of purposes including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, durable clothing and nutritional products. During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”
Even though soil, climate and agricultural capabilities could make the United States a massive producer of industrial hemp, today no hemp is grown for public sale, use and consumption within the United States. China is the world’s greatest producer and the United States is the #1 importer of hemp and hemp products in the world.
HB1888 now moves on to the full Washington state senate where it will first be assigned to a committee for consideration before the full senate has an opportunity to send the bill to Gov. Jay Inslee for a signature.by MaryJanesGirl™
The recreational marijuana use now legal in Washington, state legislators are eyeing whether the state should also allow an industrial hemp industry.
Hemp, like marijuana, comes from the cannabis plant but has much less THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that makes people high. The hemp plant has thousands of industrial uses and could provide a new cash crop for farmers.
The state Senate is considering a bill that would authorize Washington State University to study the feasibility and possible value of an industrial hemp industry in Washington.
“We have a long tradition of hemp usage on our country,” said State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, a sponsor of the bill. “The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.”
The federal government outlawed hemp decades ago as part of its efforts to stop marijuana production and use, Kohl-Welles said.
Several people spoke in support of the bill at a recent hearing by the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development committee.
Aimee Warner, a member of the Washington Hemp Industry Association, said the crop would grow well in the state’s climate.
“Our farmers are ready to, and need to, start putting industrial hemp seeds into the ground immediately,” Warner said. “There is an irrational fear of this historically persecuted crop.”
Chris Mulick, a lobbyist for Washington State University, said the college is “eager to help the state understand the viability and profitability of growing industrial hemp.”
But he warned the university must comply with U.S. laws in order to keep receiving federal research funds and student aid dollars.
Mark Streuli of the state Department of Agriculture said that agency also supports hemp cultivation.
“We think if there’s a prospect of a crop out there that enhances the viability of agriculture in Washington state, we support that,” Streuli said.
There is no organized opposition to the hemp study bill, which passed the committee and was sent to the Ways and Means Committee.
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
The Associated Press
For centuries, industrial hemp (plant species Cannabis Sativa) has been a source of fiber and
oilseed used worldwide to produce a variety of industrial and consumer products. Currently, more
than 30 nations grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, which is sold on the world
market. In the United States, however, production is strictly controlled under existing drug
enforcement laws. There is no known commercial domestic production and the U.S. market
depends on imports.
Industrial hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa and is of the same plant species as marijuana.
However, hemp is genetically different and distinguished by its use and chemical makeup. Hemp
has long been cultivated for non-drug use in the production of industrial and other goods. Some
estimate that the global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products. It can be grown
as a fiber, seed, or other dual-purpose crop. Hemp fibers are used in a wide range of products,
including fabrics and textiles, yarns and raw or processed spun fibers, paper, carpeting, home
furnishings, construction and insulation materials, auto parts, and composites. The interior stalk
(hurd) is used in various applications such as animal bedding, raw material inputs, low-quality
papers, and composites. Hemp seed and oilcake are used in a range of foods and beverages, and
can be an alternative food protein source. Oil from the crushed hemp seed is an ingredient in a
range of body-care products and also nutritional supplements. Hemp seed is also used for
industrial oils, cosmetics and personal care, and pharmaceuticals, among other composites.
Precise data are not available on the size of the U.S. market for hemp-based products. Current
industry estimates report that U.S. retail sales of all hemp-based products may be nearly $500
million per year. Because there is no commercial industrial hemp production in the United States,
the U.S. market is largely dependent on imports, both as finished hemp-containing products and
as ingredients for use in further processing. Under the current U.S. drug policy, all cannabis
varieties, including hemp, are considered Schedule I controlled substances under the Controlled
Substances Act (CSA, 21 U.S.C. §§801 et seq.; Title 21 CFR Part 1308.11). As such, while there
are legitimate industrial uses, these are controlled and regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA). Strictly speaking, the CSA does not make growing hemp illegal; rather, it
places strict controls on its production and enforces standards governing the security conditions
under which the crop must be grown, making it illegal to grow without a DEA permit. Currently,
cannabis varieties may be legitimately grown for research purposes only. Among the concerns
over changing current policies is how to allow for hemp production without undermining the
agency’s drug enforcement efforts and regulation of the production and distribution of marijuana.
In the early 1990s a sustained resurgence of interest in allowing commercial cultivation of
industrial hemp began in the United States. Several states have conducted economic or market
studies, and have initiated or passed legislation to expand state-level resources and production.
Several states have legalized the cultivation and research of industrial hemp, including Colorado,
Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington,
and West Virginia. However, because federal law still prohibits cultivation, a grower still must get
permission from the DEA in order to grow hemp, or face the possibility of federal charges or
property confiscation, despite having a state-issued permit.
The 113thCongress considered certain changes to U.S. policies regarding industrial hemp during
the 2013 farm bill debate. The House-passed version of the farm bill (H.R. 2642, Section 6605)
would allow certain research institutions to grow industrial hemp, if allowed under state laws
where the institution is located. Similar provisions were not included in the Senate-passed farm
bill (S. 947). Other introduced legislation, such as the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 (H.R.
525; S. 359), could allow for possible commercial cultivation of industrial hemp in the United
States. Those bills would amend the CSA to specify that the term “marijuana” does not include
industrial hemp, which the bill would define based on its content of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC), marijuana’s primary psychoactive chemical. Such a change could remove low-THC hemp
from being covered by the CSA as a controlled substance and subject to DEA regulation.
Source and further reading: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32725.pdfby MaryJanesGirl™
Wednesday February 6, 2013
“Industrial hemp is a sustainable crop and could be a great economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers”
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced federal legislation that requires the federal government to respect state laws allowing the growing of industrial hemp. H.R. 525, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013, amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) is a co-sponsor of the bill in the U.S. House. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) are supporting a similar bill in the U.S. Senate.
“Industrial hemp is a sustainable crop and could be a great economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers,” said Rep. Massie. “My wife and I are raising our children on the tobacco and cattle farm where my wife grew up. Tobacco is no longer a viable crop for many of us in Kentucky and we understand how hard it is for a family farm to turn a profit. Industrial hemp will give small farmers another opportunity to succeed.”
On the federal level, Rep. Massie is taking the lead in Congress as the original sponsor of industrial hemp legislation. Also, this week Massie will testify before the Kentucky legislature along with other members of Kentucky’s federal delegation and Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer in support of a related state bill.
Kentucky was a leading producer of the world’s industrial hemp supply during America’s early years as a nation. It is used in hundreds of products including paper, lotions, clothing, canvas, rope, and can be converted into renewable bio-fuels more efficiently than corn or switch grass. Critics of industrial hemp mistakenly equate it to marijuana. The plants are cousins in the cannabis family but industrial hemp contains very small amounts of the intoxicant (THC) found in marijuana, making it ineffective as a drug. Hemp is grown in over 30 western nations including Canada, England and France.
H.R. 525 has 28 original co-sponsors in the House, including House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-MN). Massie co-sponsored a similar bill in the 112th Congress.