Industrial Hemp Bills Gain Ground in U.S. House & Senate

February 15, 2013 – The two-page ‘‘Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013’’ has been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate with strong bi-partisan support. The bills have a simple objective: legalize what once was a valuable U.S. crop by establishing that “The term ‘marihuana’ does not include industrial hemp” and amending the 1970 federal Controlled Substances Act “to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marihuana.”

The current U.S. drug policy ruling is that all cannabis varieties, including industrial hemp, are treated as Schedule I controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act.

The Senate bill’s sponsors include Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). The House bill’s 30 co-sponsors are equally bipartisan.

Read the text of the bills here: Senate Bill 359 and House Bill 525. One sign of the growing support for legalizing industrial hemp as a U.S. crop once again is that the non-partisan Congressional Research Service issued a positive report on industrial hemp in December.

Along with supporting national legislation to legalize growing industrial hemp, Sen. Mitch McConnell has also endorsed Kentucky legislation to support industrial hemp. He has explained that “I am convinced that allowing [hemp] production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy. The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real, and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times, that sounds like a good thing to me.”

In explaining his support for industrial hemp legislation, Sen. Wyden said that “Unfortunately, there are some dumb regulations that are hurting economic growth and job creation, and the ban on growing industrial hemp is certainly among them. The opportunities for American farmers and businesses are obvious here. It’s time to boost revenues for farmers and reduce the costs for the businesses around the country that use hemp.”

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