Cultivating and distributing recreational marijuana is legal in four states, but cultivating hemp is a different story. Hemp is a species of cannabis and remains legal in the United States because it is considered to be a drug among heroin and ecstasy on the federally controlled substance list. A petition called Vote Hemp has arisen whose sole goal is to remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substance Act through the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, Senate Bill 134 & H.R. 525. Although farmers cannot grow hemp, its products, most of which – 90% – are imported
from Canada and China, can be sold legally in the United States.
“Why is it that these incredibly valuable products — natural, sustainable products — are lining our shelves, but U.S. farmers can’t grow it Oregon, Washington and Nebraska,” Joy Beckerman Maher, who works with the Washington State Chapter of the Hemp Industries Association, said.
Maher is the leader of the petition to omit hemp from the federal list of controlled substances. Those who support the petition say that the law is from the past and should be changed now that industrial hemp is clearly a safe and non-addictive drug. The bill is gaining popularity among the House of Representatives as Rep. Suzan DelBene and Rep. Jim McDermott support the bill. In the Senate, though, not so much; there are only nine prime and co-sponsors, none which include Sen. Patty Murray, or Sen. Maria Cantwell, Sen. Ron Wyden, is trying to lift the ban.
“The federal ban on hemp amounts, in my view, to a restriction on free enterprise and it doesn’t accomplish anything but stifle job creation and economic growth. We are the world’s largest consumers of hemp products, but we are the only major industrialized nation to ban hemp farming,” stated Wyden.
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