United States: States Leading Way on Industrial Hemp
by sfnoggin, Daily Kos
Last week, Maine's Senate passed LD 1159 on a vote of 25-10. The bill would establish a licensing regime for farming industrial hemp. The State of Oregon is also on the verge of passing industrial hemp legislation. If the bills succeed, these states would join fifteen others that have passed hemp bills.
There's no doubt, it's our federalist system that is enabling this long stigmatized agricultural crop to rise from the ashes.
Follow me over the bump.
As many of you know, since 1937, this highly versatile crop (uses include food, fuel, building material, textile, and energy to name a few) has been linked - via the Marijuana Tax Act - to the recreational and medicinal strains of the same species: Cannabis sativa L. But make no mistake, they are genetically distinct and nothing like the other.
The battle has been long. The last legal hemp crop grown in the U.S. was harvested 50 years ago. In 1970, with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act, farming hemp in the U.S. was effectively outlawed. And since then, the courts have offered no relief claiming only Congress can change the status quo.
Nonetheless, with the hemp renaissance's onset in the 80s - and the 90s when states began introducing hemp legislation - grassroots efforts have led to a growing hemp ground swell headed straight towards D.C.
As farmers find themselves mired in the effects of the Great Recession, common sense dictates legal barriers be removed to allow U.S. farmers to add this cash crop to their increasingly limited options as have virtually all other industrialized nations.
Earlier this month, our new drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, told the Wall Street Journal that the War on Drugs was on its way out. Using this logic, the end of the ludicrous U.S. ban on hemp farming is a no brainer.
Sadly, most electeds inside the beltway have bought into the "hemp is marijuana" paradigm and have become afraid of their own shadows on this issue. Ron Paul repeatedly introduces hemp legislation only to be denied a committee hearing in the House.
Gratefully, state legislatures have been willing to step in and lead the way. The tipping point appears near. All that's needed now is for the Obama Administration to take simple measures leaving it to the states to determine their own fate regarding industrial hemp. Yes, the end of the ban on U.S. hemp farming draws near - thanks in no small part to federalism.