Washington, DC—Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are working together to support and pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011.
Hemp is a non-drug oilseed and fiber variety of Cannabis, and is illegal to grow in the United States without a special Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) permit because of its close relationship with marijuana. If passed, this bill will remove federal restrictions on the cultivation of industrial hemp by bringing forth a distinction between industrial hemp and its cousin drug.
“We are very pleased to see action being taken in the Senate on the 75th anniversary of the Marihuana Tax Act, which put unreasonable restrictions on hemp farming,” says Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra. “American farmers have been denied the right to grow a crop that our Founding Fathers considered essential to our nation’s wellbeing.”
Presently, 17 states passed pro-hemp legislations and 10 states have removed hindering barriers for research and production. However, the cultivation of hemp is restricted by Federal Law, and despite state sanctions, growers can still risk being raided and, if caught, severely punished. Penalties can range from prison time to property forfeiture.
“Introducing this bill is the first step toward a common sense policy on hemp that helps create American jobs,” says Wyden. “It is vital that all advocates for industrial hemp redouble their efforts tow in support in Congress if we are going to reestablish this economically important crop.”
According to Steenstra, allowing the cultivation and production of hemp, a industry that is valued at over $400 million, can stimulate instant job creation among other various economic and environmental benefits.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2012 (online 8/10/12)