Bipartisan Industrial Hemp Bill Filed in US Congress

WASHINGTON, DC — A bill seeking to exempt industrial hemp from the Controlled Substance Act’s definition of marijuana has been filed in Congress with bipartisan support.

Representatives James Comer (R-KY), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced H.R. 3530, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017, on Friday.

The proposed bill seeks to “end unnecessary and outdated regulations on industrial hemp,” according to a statement issued by Comer.  If passed, it would exempt industrial hemp from the Controlled Substance Act’s definition of marijuana.

The bill would create a new category for hemp research at universities and state departments of agriculture, and allow for further commercialization of industrial hemp crops.

The ultimate goal of the bill, Comer says, is to take industrial hemp to the next level and begin to treat hemp like corn, soybeans, wheat, and other traditional farm crops.

“I am honored to sponsor the Industrial Hemp Farming Act because I know firsthand the economic viability of industrial hemp.  Hemp has created new opportunities for family farmers and good paying jobs for American workers, especially in Kentucky,” said Rep. Comer who led the successful industrial hemp efforts in Kentucky as the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture.

Hemp can be used in thousands of products, including fabrics, textiles, paper, auto parts, home furnishings, carpet, construction materials, hemp seed and oil, plant-based beverages, nutritional supplements, and cosmetics.

“Industrial hemp isn’t a new crop to the United States, but most Americans aren’t aware of the wide range of legitimate uses for it,” said Rep. Goodlatte. “I’ve met many Virginia farmers who are ready to commercially produce and create a market for industrial hemp in the U.S., but outdated, though well-intentioned, federal restrictions on the cultivation and commercialization of this crop stand in the way.”

“By removing industrial hemp from the definition of a controlled substance, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act will finally allow for responsible, commercial production of industrial hemp without fear of violating federal law.” added Goodlatte.

“Hemp has boundless potential as a sustainable alternative to plastics and other environmentally harmful products,” Polis said.  “It can be used in everything from construction materials to paper to lotions and even ice cream.  It’s past time that we eliminate absurd barriers and allow hemp farmers to get to work, create jobs, and grow this promising and historically important crop!”

Sponsors are optimistic about the Industrial Hemp Farming Act’s future in the 115th Congress.

“I’m optimistic that we can get the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to the President’s desk this Congress,” said Rep. Massie. “In 2014, for the first time in over half a century, hemp was grown and harvested in Kentucky under the pilot programs allowed by the Polis-Massie-Blumenauer amendment to the 2014 Farm Bill. I look forward to working with Congressman Comer to build on that momentum to give our nation’s farmers and manufacturers more opportunities to compete and succeed in the global economy. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of this bill introduced by Congressman Comer, who was instrumental in bringing the hemp industry to Kentucky as Agricultural Commissioner,” Massie added.

Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.

Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing.

During World War II, the U.S. government created a “Hemp for Victory” campaign to encourage hemp cultivation so that hemp products could be utilized by the war effort, but otherwise the crop has been largely prohibited from large scale industrial cultivation in the United States.

The United States imports an estimated $500 million worth of hemp annually from other countries.  The world’s leader in hemp production is China.

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