Texas Republican Ron Paul and a coalition of 25 co-sponsors are once again seeking to allow for the commercial farming of industrial hemp.
House Bill 1831, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011, would exclude low potency varieties of marijuana from federal prohibition. If approved, this measure will grant state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity.
Several states — including North Dakota, Montana, and Vermont– have enacted regulations to allow for the cultivation of hemp under state law. However, none of these laws can be implemented without federal approval. Passage of HR 1831 would remove existing federal barriers and allow states that wish to regulate commercial hemp production the authority to do so.
“We are pleased to see the re-introduction of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in Congress. Vote Hemp is currently working with a Democratic Senator who is preparing to introduce companion legislation in the Senate in support of industrial hemp farming,” says Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra. “It is due time for the Senate as well as President Obama and the Attorney General to prioritize the crop’s benefits to farmers and to take action like Rep. Paul and the cosponsors of H.R. 1831 have done. With the U.S. hemp industry valued at over $400 million in annual retail sales and growing, a change in federal policy to allow hemp farming would mean instant job creation, among many other economic and environmental benefits,” adds Steenstra.
According to a 2005 Congressional Resource Service report, the United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop. As a result, U.S. companies that specialize in hempen goods — such as Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Patagonia, Nature’s Path, and Nutiva — have no choice but to import hemp material. These added production costs are then passed on to the consumer who must pay artificially high retail prices for hemp products.
Previous versions of The Industrial Hemp Farming Act were introduced, but failed to receive a public hearing or a committee vote. Please write your members of Congress today and tell them to end the federal prohibition of industrial hemp production. For your convenience, a prewritten letter will be e-mailed to your member of Congress when you enter your contact information below.
For more information about industrial hemp, please visit:http://www.votehemp.org.
Thank you for assisting NORML’s federal law reform efforts.
Paul Armentano is co-author of the book