United States: Hemp Bill Supported by Barney Frank, Ron Paul
By Kathryn Glass, FOXBusiness
Hemp could be coming to a farm near you, and some legislators argue that that is a very good thing.
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced Friday by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). The bill would make it legal for U.S. farmers to raise "non-psychotative industrial hemp," a product which is used in soap, rope, clothing and even food.
Nine other U.S. House members, both Republicans and Democrats, gave their support to the bill. It is legal to import industrial hemp, but current drug policy prohibits it from being grown by American farmers.
"Indeed, the founders of our nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited, restrained federal government,” said Rep. Ron Paul during his introduction of the bill.
Proponents of the bill say industrial hemp is significantly different from marijuana -- that there’s no detectable THC and that hemp seed has a multitude of nutritional benefits. Arjan Stephens, vice president of marketing for Nature’s Path, a Canadian-based organic food maker, said his company, which uses hemp seed in its granola, oatmeal and waffle products, would benefit greatly from this legislation, because it would open up a greater supply and change perceptions of hemp.
“Our hope is that it passes, and it starts to change the stigma that hemp has received in the United States,” Stephens said. “Some mainstream retailers are still hesitant to carry products containing hemp because of its association with marijuana.”
Nature’s Path is one of several companies that are either based or have operations in the U.S. that support industrial hemp farming. California-based Bronner's Magic Soaps and Indiana-based FlexForm Technologies, as well as food companies such as French Meadow Bakery, Hempzels and Living Harvest, all use Canadian-grown hemp for their products.
"It is unfortunate that the federal government has stood in the way of American farmers, including many who are struggling to make ends meet, from competing in the global industrial hemp market," said Rep. Paul.
Tom Murphy, the national outreach coordinator for Vote Hemp, an lobbying organization, agrees that cultivating industrial hemp could provide a new source of revenue for American farmers. Murphy is hopeful the Obama administration will not come out against the legislation.
“We have not seen anything from this White House yet -- we did see from the Clinton and Bush administrations them equate it to the legalization of marijuana,” Murphy said. “We see industrial hemp as an agricultural and economic development issue and think that people, given time, would see it as such.”
A spokesperson from the Office of National Drug Control Policy said Gil Kerlikowske, the Obama administration’s appointee to Direct the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has not yet been confirmed and therefore has not clarified the administration’s position on the legislation.