Legalizing Weed: 4 Facts About the Industrial Hemp Farming Act
By Andrea Miller | Tuesday, 17 Nov 2015 05:53 PM
Though it’s often confused with the movement for legalizing weed, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 is actually a separate movement specifically for cannabis sativa plants cultivated for development and production of hemp products. The bill seeks to amend the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act so that it will not include industrial hemp.
Here are four facts about the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015.
1. The bill has a long history.
While it was reintroduced in 2015, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act has gone through several iterations. It was first introduced in 2005 by Ron Paul, Pete Stark, Jim McDermott, and Raul Grijalva, but stalled after it was referred to the Subcommittee on Health.
With some changes, the bill was introduced again in both 2007 and 2009, both times failing to get past this committee despite changes in the bill that seek to separate legalizing weed from legalizing industrial hemp. A 2013 version stalled with the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
2. The bill has bipartisan support.
Unlike legalizing weed, which has traditionally been a Democrat-supported movement, both Republicans and Democrats have shown support for the new version of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act. This is a nod to the economic impact that cultivation of industrial hemp could have on the nation’s agricultural landscape and on manufacturing. Sponsors of the bill include Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-California)
3. The United States is currently the only industrialized nation where hemp production is illegal.
However, the U.S. is also the world’s largest consumer of hemp-related products. This means that a bill allowing cultivation of industrial hemp would bolster domestic trade and allow access to more affordable and fresher industrial hemp for manufacturing purposes.
4. Twenty states have already legalized industrial hemp production.
However, farmers who grow the crop in those states still risk targeting by federal authorities unless the Industrial Hemp Act is passed. In an earlier win for industrial hemp production, President Barack Obama signed a bill in early 2014 allowing colleges and universities to grow the crop for research purposes in these 20 states.
With legalizing weed a reality in 20 states and Washington, D.C., this new reintroduction of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act has a real chance at becoming law for the first time since its inception.
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