Archive for the ‘hemp’ category

Tennessee: Lawmakers Approve Measures Reclassifying Hemp As An Agricultural Commodity

April 10th, 2014

State lawmakers have signed off on legislation, Senate Bill 2495/House Bill 2445, to reclassify and regulate industrial hemp.

The legislation now goes to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam for his signature.

The measures reclassify cannabis possessing less than 0.3 percent THC as an industrial crop rather than a controlled substance. The legislation calls on the state Department of Agriculture to develop rules and regulations governing the licensed production of industrial hemp by Tennessee farmers. Regulators have up to 120 days following the bill’s passage to enact these licensing guidelines.

Lawmakers in Indiana and Utah previously enacted legislation earlier this year authorizing state regulators to oversee the cultivation of industrial hemp for commercial and/or research purposes.

According to the Congressional Resource Service, the US is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop. However, in February, members of Congress for the first time approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill allowing for the cultivation of industrial hemp in agricultural pilot programs in states that already permit the growth and cultivation of the plant. Ten additional states — California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia — have enacted legislation allowing for industrial hemp research and/or reclassifying the plant as an agricultural commodity under state law.

Indiana: Lawmakers Approve Legislation Reclassifying Hemp As An Agricultural Commodity

March 19th, 2014

House and Senate lawmakers have signed off on legislation, Senate Bill 357, to reclassify and regulate industrial hemp.

Members of the Senate had initially approved the legislation by a vote of 48 to zero. House members then voted 93 to 4 in favor of a slightly amended version of the measure. Lawmakers in both chambers agreed last week on a final version of the bill — sending it to Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who must either sign the measure into law or veto it.

As passed, the measure reclassifies cannabis possessing less than 0.3 percent THC as an industrial crop. It also seeks to establish licensing requirements and regulations governing the production of and commerce in hemp, as well as for the scientific study of the crop. The proposal mandates state regulators to seek federal waivers by no later than January 1, 2015 so that officials can begin the process of licensing applicants to cultivate the crop.

According to the U.S. Congressional Resource Service, the United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop. However, in February, members of Congress for the first time approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill allowing for the cultivation industrial hemp in agricultural pilot programs in states that already permit the growth and cultivation of the plant. Ten states — California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia — have enacted legislation reclassifying hemp as an agricultural commodity under state law.

US House of Representatives Approves Hemp Research Provisions

February 3rd, 2014

Congressional lawmakers last week approved language authorizing state universities and agriculture departments to move forward with programs to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes.

The language, included in the final version of the omnibus federal Farm Bill, was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The Senate is expected to sign off on the measure imminently.

The provisions allow for the cultivation industrial hemp in agricultural pilot programs in states that already permit the growth and cultivation of the plant. Ten states — California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia — have enacted legislation reclassifying hemp as an agricultural commodity under state law.

Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food. However, US federal law makes no distinction between hemp and marijuana.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) — who advocated on behalf of the language to the 2014 Farm Bill conference, the group federal of lawmakers charged with finalizing the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill – called the bill’s expected passage “an important victory for … farmers.”

A 2013 white paper published by the Congressional Research Service concludes: “[T]he US market for hemp-based products has a highly dedicated and growing demand base, as indicated by recent US market and import data for hemp products and ingredients, as well as market trends for some natural foods and body care products. Given the existence of these small-scale, but profitable, niche markets for a wide array of industrial and consumer products, commercial hemp industry in the United States could provide opportunities as an economically viable alternative crop for some US growers.”

The agency notes that the United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop.

Also last week, the American Farm Bureau Federation at its annual meeting approved a new policy resolution urging for the repeal of the classification of industrial hemp as a controlled substance under federal law stating, “At a time when small farms are innovating and diversifying to remain competitive, we should provide every opportunity to increase farm incomes and allow the next generation the ability to continue living off the land as their families have for generations.”

Federal legislation to reclassify industrial hemp and to allow for its commercial cultivation remains pending in both the United States House and Senate.

New Jersey Assembly Committee Approves Industrial Hemp Legislation

November 25th, 2013

njnormThe New Jersey Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted 4-1 in favor of Assembly Bill 2415. This legislation would legalize the licensed cultivation of industrial hemp. Members of NORML New Jersey were present to testify in favor of this legislation.

“We commend the Committee for taking a common sense approach to allow the growth of industrial hemp in New Jersey,” stated NORML New Jersey Executive Director Evan Nison, “Our cannabis laws are nonsensical, and few issues embody this more obviously and plainly than the prohibition of industrial hemp. We hope the absurdity of these laws will encourage members of the legislature and the public to reevaluate marijuana laws across the board.”

“The passage of this bill will help pressure the Federal Government to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, much like nearly all other industrialize counties do, to help our environment and provide another crop for farmers.” Nison continued, “Many members of Congress are already supportive of such reforms, and states showing an eagerness to allow this crop will encourage Congress to get it done. ”

The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to a 2005 Congressional Resource Service (CRS) report. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing. Assembly Bill 2415 would allow New Jersey to authorize a licensed, statewide hemp industry. A2415 now awaits action on the floor of the New Jersey Assembly.

For more information contact Evan Nison, Executive Director of NORML New Jersey at Evan@normlnj.org

NJ: You can quickly and easily contact your elected officials in support of this legislation using NORML’s Take Action Center here.

Legal or Not, Industrial Hemp Harvested in Colo.

October 14th, 2013

Southeast Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin tried an illegal crop this year. He didn’t hide it from neighbors, and he never feared law enforcement would come asking about it.

Loflin is among about two dozen Colorado farmers who raised industrial hemp, marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin that can’t be grown under federal drug law, and bringing in the nation’s first acknowledged crop in more than five decades.

Emboldened by voters in Colorado and Washington last year giving the green light to both marijuana and industrial hemp production, Loflin planted 55 acres of several varieties of hemp alongside his typical alfalfa and wheat crops. The hemp came in sparse and scraggly this month, but Loflin said but he’s still turning away buyers.

“Phone’s been ringing off the hook,” said Loflin, who plans to press the seeds into oil and sell the fibrous remainder to buyers who’ll use it in building materials, fabric and rope. “People want to buy more than I can grow.”

But hemp’s economic prospects are far from certain. Finished hemp is legal in the U.S., but growing it remains off-limits under federal law. The Congressional Research Service recently noted wildly differing projections about hemp’s economic potential.

However, America is one of hemp’s fastest-growing markets, with imports largely coming from China and Canada. In 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products, up from $1.4 million in 2000. Most of that is hemp seed and hemp oil, which finds its way into granola bars, soaps, lotions and even cooking oil. Whole Foods Market now sells hemp milk, hemp tortilla chips and hemp seeds coated in dark chocolate.

Colorado won’t start granting hemp-cultivation licenses until 2014, but Loflin didn’t wait.

His confidence got a boost in August when the U.S. Department of Justice said the federal government would generally defer to state marijuana laws as long as states keep marijuana away from children and drug cartels. The memo didn’t even mention hemp as an enforcement priority for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“I figured they have more important things to worry about than, you know, rope,” a smiling Loflin said as he hand-harvested 4-foot-tall plants on his Baca County land.

Colorado’s hemp experiment may not be unique for long. Ten states now have industrial hemp laws that conflict with federal drug policy, including one signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown last month. And it’s not just the typical marijuana-friendly suspects: Kentucky, North Dakota and West Virginia have industrial hemp laws on the books.

Hemp production was never banned outright, but it dropped to zero in the late 1950s because of competition from synthetic fibers and increasing anti-drug sentiment.

Hemp and marijuana are the same species, Cannabis sativa, just cultivated differently to enhance or reduce marijuana’s psychoactive chemical, THC. The 1970 Controlled Substances Act required hemp growers to get a permit from the DEA, the last of which was issued in 1999 for a quarter-acre experimental plot in Hawaii. That permit expired in 2003.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last recorded an industrial hemp crop in the late 1950s, down from a 1943 peak of more than 150 million pounds on 146,200 harvested acres.

But Loflin and other legalization advocates say hemp is back in style and that federal obstacles need to go.

Loflin didn’t even have to hire help to bring in his crop, instead posting on Facebook that he needed volunteer harvesters. More than two dozen people showed up — from as far as Texas and Idaho.

Volunteers pulled the plants up from the root and piled them whole on two flatbed trucks. The mood was celebratory, people whooping at the sight of it and joking they thought they’d never see the day.

But there are reasons to doubt hemp’s viability. Even if law enforcement doesn’t interfere, the market might.

“It is not possible,” Congressional Research Service researchers wrote in a July report, “to predict the potential market and employment effects of relaxing current restrictions on U.S. hemp production.”

The most recent federal study came 13 years ago, when the USDA concluded the nation’s hemp markets “are, and will likely remain, small” and “thin.” And a 2004 study by the University of Wisconsin warned hemp “is not likely to generate sizeable profits” and highlighted “uncertainty about long-run demand for hemp products.”

Still, there are seeds of hope. Global hemp production has increased from 250 million pounds in 1999 to more than 380 million pounds in 2011, according to United Nations agricultural surveys, which attributed the boost to increased demand for hemp seeds and hemp oil.

Congress is paying attention to the country’s increasing acceptance of hemp. The House version of the stalled farm bill includes an amendment, sponsored by lawmakers in Colorado, Oregon and Kentucky, allowing industrial hemp cultivation nationwide. The amendment’s prospects, like the farm bill’s timely passage, are far from certain.

Ron Carleton, a Colorado deputy agricultural commissioner who is heading up the state’s looming hemp licensure, said he has no idea what hemp’s commercial potential is. He’s not even sure how many farmers will sign up for Colorado’s licensure program next year, though he’s fielded a “fair number of inquiries.”

“What’s going to happen, we’ll just have to see,” Carleton said.

Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Author: Kristen Wyatt, The Associated Press
Published: October 12, 2013
Copyright: 2013 The Associated Press

Colorado Sees First Hemp Crop in 56 Years

October 8th, 2013
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Ryan Loflin (Image: 303 Magazine)

This past weekend, volunteers gathered in Colorado’s Baca County to harvest the U.S.’s first commercial hemp crop since 1957. The crop was grown by Ryan Loflin, a Colorado resident. Hemp, a plant similar to marijuana but with only trace amounts of THC, is used to make cloth, rope, paper, oils, wax, and other products.  According to Hemp Industries Association, the U.S. market sold $500 million of hemp products last year alone, but because of U.S. drug policy, all of that hemp was imported.

Hemp is illegal to grow in the U.S. because of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the same legislation that categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I drug along with heroin and PCP.  Thanks to Colorado and Washington, growing hemp is back on the table and could be a profitable crop for farmers.

Farm Bill Passes House, Hemp Amendment Stays Intact

July 12th, 2013

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a revised version of the highly contested Farm Bill yesterday. Although representatives re-crafted the bill to remove provisions for food stamp funding, they left a hemp amendment in tact.

The amendment would change federal law to allow for colleges and universities to grow hemp for research purposes in states where hemp cultivation and production is permitted by state law. The bill must still pass the Senate before final approval.

James Comer

James Comer

Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Kentucky expressed their support for the amendment. Comer said, “Without a doubt, this was an historic day for industrial hemp in America.”

The bill narrowly passed on a 216-208 vote.

Flying High on The Fourth

July 5th, 2013

The flag flying over the Capitol on the Fourth of July might look like your typical Old Glory. But you probably won’t notice the fibers that make it special. It’s believed to be the first hemp flag to flutter over the dome since the government began outlawing marijuana’s less-recreational cousin back in the 1930s.

Colorado hemp advocate Michael Bowman is the man responsible for getting the flag, made from Colorado-raised hemp and screen-printed with the Stars and Stripes, up there.

He cooked up the idea while lobbying Congress this year to include pro-hemp measures in the massive farm bill. That legislation failed last month, of course, but the seed of the hemp flag had been planted.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) gave Bowman an assist with the details, which included working with the Capitol’s flag office. (The flag program allows people to buy flags flown over the Capitol, so they rotate in new Old Glories nearly every day.)

“It’s a powerful symbol,” Bowman says, adding that the red, white and blue flying over the Capitol is a reminder of the role that hemp played in the founding and early days of the country. Betsy Ross’s flag was made of hemp, he notes, and Colonial settlers even paid their taxes in the crop, which was used for all kinds of goods, from rope to fabric to paper. Those Conestoga wagons heading west were covered in canvas fashioned from hemp fibers.

So, he thought having it fly on America’s birthday seemed pretty appropriate.

After its Capitol flight, the flag will make its way back to Colorado, where it will fly over the state capitol building in Denver. After that, Bowman is sending it on a tour of statehouses in states where legislation is pending that would legalize hemp. One of the first up: Vermont.

And while advocates are quick to point out that hemp lacks the THC content beloved by stoners, this will still be one high-flying flag.

Source: Washington Post (DC)
Author: Al Kamen
Published: July 3, 2013
Copyright: 2013 Washington Post Company
Contact: letters@washpost.com
Website: http://www.washingtonpost.com/

U.S. House Approves Hemp Research Amendment

June 21st, 2013

Yesterday, we told you about an amendment to H.R. 1947, “the farm bill,” that would allow universities and colleges to cultivate industrial hemp. We asked you to call your representatives and help pass this amendment, and you came through! Earlier today, by a vote of 225-200, the House adopted the amendment. Despite the full bill being voted down because of partisan differences, this is a big victory.

Why is it so important? First, the DEA lobbied hard against us and lost. This is perhaps the first time that Congress has listened to arguments from the DEA and advocates for marijuana policy reform, then sided with us. Second, even though this bill won’t pass, there’s a good chance the amendment will get inserted into other legislation now that the full House has approved it.

Here’s the bottom line: the tide is turning. No longer do members of Congress blindly listen to the DEA and ignore advocates. We’re making real progress, and with your help, we can continue building support for further reforms.

House Approves Amendment to Allow Hemp Cultivation for Research

June 20th, 2013

UPDATE: For unrelated reasons, the final House version of the FARRM bill was voted down this afternoon, we’ll keep you updated as this situation evolves.

This morning, the United States House of Representatives approved an amendment to H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (The FARRM Bill), that will allow for the cultivation of hemp for academic research at universities and colleges. This would only apply to states that have already passed legislation allowing for industrial hemp production.

The amendment, sponsored by Representatives Polis (D-CO), Blumenauer (D-OR) and Tom Massie (R-KY), was approved by a 225-200 vote, with over 60 Republicans supporting it.

“Industrial hemp is an important agricultural commodity, not a drug,” said Rep. Polis. “My bipartisan, common-sense amendment, which I’ve introduced with Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp for academic and agricultural research purposes in states where industrial hemp growth and cultivation is already legal. Many states, including Colorado, have demonstrated that they are fully capable of regulating industrial hemp. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. The first American flag was made of hemp. And today, U.S. retailers sell over $300 million worth of goods containing hemp—but all of that hemp is imported, since farmers can’t grow it here. The federal government should clarify that states should have the ability to regulate academic and agriculture research of industrial hemp without fear of federal interference. Hemp is not marijuana, and at the very least, we should allow our universities—the greatest in the world—to research the potential benefits and downsides of this important agricultural commodity.”

The House and the Senate must now conference to reconcile differences between the two versions of the bill. Please take a moment of your time to call your Senators and urge them to support this important amendment and keep it in the final version of the legislation. You can click here to easily find the email and phone number for your Senators.

NORML will keep you updated as this proposal moves forward.