To highlight the vast economic potential of industrial hemp for America’s agricultural industry, the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution designating June 5-11, “Hemp History Week.”
Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced the bipartisan resolution Wednesday. The Hemp History Week resolution passed the Senate unanimously last night.
The United States is the world’s largest consumer of industrial hemp, but current federal law prohibits American farmers from growing hemp on U.S. soil. The federal ban forces American businesses to import about $76 million in hemp to make retail products like food, clothing, toiletries like soap, lotion and lip balm, as well as paper products and construction materials sold in the United States.
“The unjustifiable ban on growing hemp in the United States is locking American farmers and innovators out of good-paying jobs and countless ways to profit from this versatile plant,” Wyden said. “We are going to stay at this. It’s simple: American farmers should be able to grow hemp legally once again in the United States.”
“I am proud to once again join with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to recognize Hemp History Week,” McConnell said. “With the Commonwealth’s rich history of hemp and the efforts being done today, I believe that industrial hemp can be a viable commodity for the future of Kentucky and the nation.”
“Industrial hemp has had a long and productive history in the U.S., and it’s time to revive that history now for the 21st Century,” Merkley said. “Outdated policies should not stand in the way of our American farmers growing a crop that is already used to make products sold all across the U.S.”
“I am thrilled by the passing of this resolution,” Paul said. “Allowing farmers in Kentucky and throughout our nation to cultivate industrial hemp and benefit from its many uses will grow our economy and bring new jobs to the agriculture industry.”
The senators introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in 2015 to lift federal restrictions on growing industrial hemp in the United States. The bill would remove hemp from the Schedule I controlled substance list under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, lifting the current legal restrictions on the plant as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
They are working to reintroduce the bill this year.
Oregon and Kentucky are among thirty-one states that have removed barriers to growing industrial hemp. However, the federal ban on growing hemp still forces farmers in states that allow industrial hemp research and pilot programs to get waivers from the Drug Enforcement Administration.