With a 225 to 200 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives has taken a historic first step in allowing hemp cultivation to take place across the U.S. The House approved the move as an amendment to a national farms bill. Under the proposed amendment, the cultivation of hemp for research purposes would no long be a federal crime; in states which have legalized hemp research (such as Colorado) those attempting to partake in such research – colleges, for example – would no longer need to fear federal prosecution.
If the farms bill is approved, it will head to the Senate – if the hemp amendment isn’t removed, and is also approved by the Senate, the proposal will head to President Obama for final consideration.
“Industrial hemp is used for hundreds of products including paper, clothing, rope, and can be converted into renewable bio-fuels more efficiently than corn or switch grass,” stated Representative Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky who’s one of the sponsors of the proposal; “It’s our goal that the research this amendment enables would further broadcast the economic benefits of the sustainable and job-creating crop.”
Representative Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado who’s one of the amendment’s other prime sponsors, stated that; “This is a no-brainer. Industrial hemp is an important product.. It’s perfectly legal, but currently we require that it be imported from other countries. Basically it’s taking jobs away from American producers.”
Despite the sensibility of this approach, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lobbied congress heavily over the past couple days, urging them to oppose the move, even circulating an opposition letter. Luckily, the majority of representatives weren’t buying it; “I saw that ridiculous, inaccurate letter. I’m glad my colleagues in the Congress saw through the bogus attempts to discredit [the hemp amendment]”, stated Polis.
Those in the U.S. should be looking up and contacting their senators, as well as President Obama, urging them to support this common-sense amendment.
[ Update: Unfortunately the farms bill that the amendment was included in failed in the House with a 195 to 234 vote, indicating that there’s more support for legalizing hemp research than there is support for the actual farms bill itself – this is an excellent sign that the amendment will be included in a reworked farms bill, or may even be introduced as a solo bill, one which obviously has enough support in Congress to pass. ]