Industrial Hemp Gains Support With New Bill

Legislation will Remove Hemp From Controlled Substances Act

By Pat Myers

     On July 28, 2017, bipartisan federal legislation was introduced that would bring an end to the unnecessary and outdated regulations on industrial hemp.The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017 will open the door to the legal farming of hemp after the many years of classification as the controlled substance marijuana. The proposed law will exempt it from being defined as marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. It will also create a new category for hemp for research and allow for further commercialization of industrial hemp crops.
     The bill was brought to the floor by US Representatives Comer ( R-KY), Polis (D-CO), Massie (R-KY) and Goodlatte (R-VA). Congressman Goodlatte had the following to say:   “Industrial hemp isn’t a new crop to the United States, but most Americans aren’t aware of the wide range of legitimate uses for it. Last year, I had the opportunity to visit the Rockingham County farm of a participant in Virginia’s industrial hemp research program to see firsthand how this crop is grown and harvested. “I’ve met many Virginia farmers who are ready to commercially produce and create a market for industrial hemp in the US, but outdated, though well-intentioned, federal restrictions on the cultivation and commercialization of this crop stand in the way. By removing industrial hemp from the definition of a controlled substance, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act will finally allow for responsible, commercial production of industrial hemp without fear of violating federal law. This bipartisan bill is the product of many months of robust discussion with both lawmakers and stakeholders. I am pleased to see it introduced today, and I look forward to moving this legislation through the House.”
     “Hemp has boundless potential as a sustainable alternative to plastics and other environmentally harmful products. It can be used in everything from construction materials to paper to lotions and even ice cream. It’s past time that we eliminate absurd barriers and allow hemp farmers to get to work, create jobs and grow this promising and historically important crop!” said congressman Polis.
     “Industrial hemp is a sustainable crop and could be a great economic opportunity for Kentucky farmers,” said Rep. Massie. He added, “I’m optimistic that we can get the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to the President’s desk this Congress. In 2014, for the first time in over half a century, hemp was grown and harvested in Kentucky under the pilot programs allowed by the Polis-Massie-Blumenauer amendment to the 2014 Farm Bill. I look forward to working with Congressman Comer to build on that momentum to give our nation’s farmers and manufacturers more opportunities to compete and succeed in the global economy. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of this bill introduced by Congressman Comer, who was instrumental in bringing the hemp industry to Kentucky as Agricultural Commissioner,”.
     The short history of hemp: Hemp, Cannabis sativa L., is one of the oldest plants that has been in continuous use by human civilization. A piece of hemp fabric is one of the oldest artifacts found on the planet. It is amazing that it has endured for over 8000 years. Around 600 BC, hemp rope appears in southern Russia. Around 500 BC, hemp seeds and leaves of the cannabis plant are included in burial sites. China, around 100 BC, and the Arabs, around 900 BC, discover ways to make hemp paper. Hemp rope shows up in England around 100 BC and for the next 700 years, most paper is made with hemp.
     America could not have waged its revolution without hemp. For the next 150 years, hemp was the top cash crop in America. In 1776, Kentucky begins to grow hemp. The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper. Hemp plantations flourished in the Eastern and Southern states. More medicinal preparations are developed and are available. Abraham Lincoln uses hemp seed oil to fuel his household lamps.
     After 1906, laws began to be passed that prohibited the use of marijuana. The Harrison Act of 1914 in the US defined the use of marijuana, among other drugs, as a crime.